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016/2015: York Exhibits and Records Store – 22 December 2015

Executive Summary and Recommendation:

The effective, efficient and appropriate management of North Yorkshire Police’s exhibits, held property and operational records plays a fundamental role in securing successful prosecutions and positive outcomes for victims of crime.  It is vital to ensure that the service provided is robust, efficient and that the integrity of any exhibit or associated file is maintained from the point of seizure/creation, throughout the investigation and through to any resultant prosecution.

We are seeking to minimise any potential risk to the successful prosecution of offenders and to ensure we have appropriate facilities to maintain the integrity, security and condition of exhibits, property and records in our care by providing modern, fit for purpose exhibits and records storage facilities.

The provision of exhibits storage facilities will be aligned to, and informed by, the proposed ‘Storage: Modernising the Management of Information’ project and the agreed Estates Strategy and will be built around the network of police stations and custody facilities that will form the foundations of North Yorkshire Police’s estate.  There are clear interdependencies between the provision of a central records and exhibits storage facility and the successful implementation of both the phased Estates Strategy and the proposed Information Management Records Storage project.  There are notable risks to the organisation in not having adequate storage facilities in place to support the long-term storage of property and records as the proposed amendments to the NYP estate progress.  Should alternative storage facilities not be identified or developed then it may impact on NYP’s ability to achieve the plans contained within the Estates Strategy.

The provision of improved facilities will support the organisation in meeting the policing and corporate priorities committed to in the Police and Crime Plan; releasing officer time back into operational policing and reducing the risks associated with exhibits and file handling, thereby supporting successful prosecutions and positive outcomes for victims.

York & Selby Districts generate in excess of 60% of the exhibits managed across the North Yorkshire Police area.  These exhibits are currently held in facilities which are no longer fit for purpose and which offer little potential for development due to the location of the stores, the infrastructure of the buildings and the planning restrictions on developing the current facilities.

The organisation’s operational paper records are currently stored in a myriad of locations, few of which are fit for purpose for the long-term storage of paper files.  The proposed ‘Storage: Modernising the Management of Information’ project will significantly reduce the volume of paper records that the organisation is required to retain in hard copy.  There will, nonetheless, be a residual storage requirement for hard copy files that are not appropriate for electronic conversion.  The potential to centralise these records would not only yield benefits in providing modern storage facilities it would also provide the opportunity to centralise the co-ordination and recording of those files and enhance the records management service for the organisation.

This report provides the Executive Board with information and costs in respect of a proposal to develop NYP’s exhibits, found property and records storage facilities.  There are additional opportunities linked to the development of the site which would improve the management, security and storage of certain high risk exhibits and these opportunities are detailed within the proposal.  The report also details a proposal to provide fit-for-the-future facilities to store Major Crime exhibits and hard copy operational records.


  • To approve the proposed development to provide a fit for purpose storage facility as outlined in the full report at Part 2 of this Decision Notice
  • To approve the centralisation of the storage of the specified types of high-risk exhibits as detailed in the full report at Part 2 of this Decision Notice
  • To approve the budget estimate shown in Appendix C of Part 2 of this Decision Notice


Police and Crime Commissioner decision: Approved

Signature: signature
Date: 22 December 2015
Title: Police and Crime Commissioner

1. Introduction and Background

An exhibit is an item of property which has been seized:

  • When necessary for evidential purposes or where known to be or suspected to be the proceeds of crime
  • When required for forensic examination
  • For safekeeping – on limited occasions i.e. following a sudden death
  • If items are offensive weapons or items used to facilitate crime

Currently once an exhibit is seized it is submitted to a designated exhibit store for retention during investigations, and subsequently then returned to the owner or disposed of.  These stores are managed by Business Administration Services (BAS) managers and staff.

Exhibits relating to Major Crime investigations are managed principally via the Major Crime Unit and access is restricted to relevant personnel.  Live Major Crime exhibits are stored close to the investigation team and, on conclusion of the investigation, where they need to be retained they are moved to either the primary Major Crime exhibits store or to one of the subsidiary stores.

Operational and corporate records are stored in a myriad of storage locations, few of which are fit for purpose for the long-term storage of paper files, tapes or CDs.  In addition we are also using an external storage company (Iron Mountain) to store both operational and corporate records at a cost of approximately £15,000/yr.

North Yorkshire Police currently have:

  • Twelve permanent designated general exhibits stores
  • Fifteen 24/7 transit (temporary) stores
  • Four designated drugs stores
  • One primary and various subsidiary Major Crime exhibits stores
  • Sixteen paper records stores

North Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Police Internal Audit colleagues undertook a joint audit of exhibits management.  As part of this review a number of issues were identified with the suitability of the current infrastructure of our exhibits and found property storage environments.  The following recommendation was made:

“That an overall adequacy assessment is required for all locations and recommendations for physical improvements should be submitted to Property & Facilities for consideration.  This should take into account security, storage provision (shelving, fridges/freezers, labelling, bulk storage) and should include temporary and sensitive property storage and an access and security assessment.”

A minimum specification was developed covering all aspects of the infrastructure of Exhibits stores, this was then utilised to conduct an adequacy assessment across all stores.

The recommended works emanating from that assessment were considered alongside a proposal which was being evaluated for a Centralised Exhibits and Paper Records storage facility for the organisation.  The centralised storage proposal would have removed the need for significant expenditure to develop the current estate and would have resulted in the closure of all current main storage facilities leaving only temporary stores in operation.

As a result of the work being done to evaluate a centralised store the recommended store developments were prioritised, with a focus on meeting our immediate Health and Safety obligations, addressing significant security requirements and ensuring the welfare of our staff.  The prioritised schedule of works was submitted to the Executive Board for consideration in July 2013 with approval being given for expenditure of £70,000 to address the immediate storage concerns identified through the assessments.  The list of works has now been completed which has resulted in improved storage facilities in the specified locations.


As the evaluation of the centralised storage facility progressed and the detailed cost / benefit analysis was undertaken it became clear that the proposal to centralise all exhibits and paper records storage for the organisation was neither affordable, nor did it present overwhelming operational benefits given the limitations presented by the expansive geography of the North Yorkshire Police area.

Despite the recommendation not to progress further with the evaluation, a number of elements of the proposal made considerable operational sense.  There is significant operational, procedural and risk-management advantage to be gained by further considering the centralisation of some types of sensitive property.  This proposal seeks to explore those opportunities and to recommend a way in which those benefits can be realised.

A corporate approach to exhibits management has now been established across the force.  This has ensured that inconsistencies against the minimum specification (now in place) can be identified early and addressed.  Training and communications are also underway to improve colleagues’ knowledge of the processes, procedure and standards to mitigate the risk of issues re-occurring.

In addition, internal control mechanisms are being adopted to ensure that ‘triggers’ are in place to identify potential areas of concern.  This is being managed through departmental governance and through the Exhibits Working Group under the leadership of the Deputy Chief Constable.  Monthly audits and performance reports are undertaken and published by Business Administration Services (BAS).  Should issues be identified then these are escalated through the appropriate governance arrangements including the Exhibits Working Group, operational departments, Property and Facilities department and Health and Safety colleagues as necessary.

Having evaluated and discounted the wholly centralised storage option it was necessary to revisit the original store adequacy assessments to identify areas for improvement given the longer-term utilisation of the stores.  The exhibits store which currently presents the greatest area of risk to the organisation, both in terms of the facilities it provides, the ease of use and access to those facilities, the state of repair of those facilities and the limitations the facilities place on the future development potential for the store, is in York.

This proposal makes recommendations for developing the existing infrastructure at the York site and supporting the continued development of the exhibits management process across all sites both to safeguard exhibits and release officer time back into operational policing.

Through the development of the existing storage infrastructure there are clearly opportunities to provide additional services and to reduce costs associated with the storage and disposal of exhibits.  It is expected that there will be demonstrable and measurable benefits to the organisation which will ensure that the capital investment provides value for money.  These benefits include:-

  • Enhanced exhibits management services through a team of dedicated staff who can provide:
  • A holistic exhibits handling service, releasing operational officers from undertaking administrative tasks and contributing to the re-profiling and reduction in workforce numbers that will need to be created over time to respond to the future financial situation
  • Expertise in exhibit seizure and retention procedures
  • Reduction in the number of exhibits held through the effective turnover and repatriation of exhibits
  • Supporting officers to ensure every opportunity is taken to deprive offenders of the proceeds of crime whilst providing advice and guidance to limit the amount of exhibits seized unnecessarily
  • Eliminating the requirement for additional storage facilities (storage containers) to accommodate large exhibits seizures
  • Increasing customer confidence in exhibits handling
  • Removing the requirements to re-provision some exhibits storage facilities as a result of the planned closure of the Newby Wiske, HQ site
  • Co-location of Major Crime exhibits and files, centralised drugs store, centralised armoury enhancing the integrity and security of the storage of high risk exhibits
  • Freeing up time from administrative tasks for Drugs Liaison Officers
  • Reducing risk and complaints with misplaced exhibits
  • Improved forensic/frozen exhibit courier service with all forensic exhibits being recorded, tracked and managed via Exhibits Stores
  • Reducing costs of exhibit disposal by:
  • Reducing the volume of exhibits held
  • Limiting the number of sites from which exhibits need to be collected for analysis or disposal
  • Consistent approach to the disposal of sensitive property providing restricted access and ‘closed loop’ handling
  • Freeing up space for re-utilisation back into the estates portfolio
  • Addressing Internal Audit recommendations

There is the potential for additional benefits to be realised from the co-location of an operational and corporate paper records storage facility:

  • Supports the recommendations from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) Audit 2012
  • Supports and complements the plans of the ‘Storage: Modernising the Management of Information’ project
  • Improved file management, information security and record keeping (responding to ICO audit requirements and supporting successful prosecutions)
  • Ensure compliance with MOPI regarding the review, retention and disposal of records
  • Reduction in time spent locating files and interview recordings
  • Increased customer confidence in file management
  • Reduction in storage costs (internal and external)

The works identified in developing a modern, fit for purpose exhibits and records store will address the infrastructure concerns highlighted through the West Yorkshire Police Authority, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s Internal Audit Team, North Yorkshire Police and Information Commissioner’s Office audits, ensuring compliance.

It is the intention, should approval be given, that the works will be undertaken by the contractor successfully awarded the Major Works contract.

2. Other Options Considered

Do nothing – this option is not recommended as the risks identified within the audits and highlighted within this decision notice would not be addressed.  This is not deemed acceptable as the consequence of ‘doing nothing’ would ultimately impact the customer (public).  This would not support the priorities outlined within the Police and Crime Plan.

Decrease scope of the works and develop current exhibits storage facilities – this option is not recommended as to decrease the scope of identified works to be delivered would result in North Yorkshire Police not meeting the obligations against the audit recommendations and would not support the development of the service that is required and expected by our customers (public).  The option to reconfigure the current exhibits store has been discounted as there are space allocation, layout and development restrictions which do not support the provision of a modern, fit for purpose exhibits store.

Consideration has been given to exploring options for a regional Major Crime exhibits store as part of the Evolve Programme with Durham, Cleveland and North Yorkshire Police.  As there will be an ongoing requirement to manage exhibits relating to cases led by North Yorkshire within the North Yorkshire area it is not operationally viable to store those exhibits remotely.

Increase scope of the works – this option is not recommended.  A fully costed evaluation of a wholly centralised exhibits and paper records store was undertaken in 2013/14 as part of the proposed development of a Northern Base.  Whilst the proposal identified some opportunities to make revenue savings on the resources needed to manage exhibits and there were further opportunities to release additional space back to the estate from existing stores, all of that came at a significant cost.

The proposed build cost for a purpose-built centralised store of approximately £2.3m would have attracted annual borrowing costs of approximately £160,000.  This is significantly more than the £1.29m cost of developing the York store.

In addition, it was recognised that the expansive geography of North Yorkshire would make the practical day-to-day management of exhibits from a centralised location very difficult.  Exhibits often need to be accessed throughout the course of an investigation.  Holding the exhibits centrally could restrict the timeliness of their accessibility which could impact on the effective conduct of an investigation.  It would also lead to exhibits being regularly transferred across the estate which could pose risks to maintaining the integrity of the exhibit.

It is recommended that the York store development is supported and that further work is undertaken to identify development requirements at the Scarborough and Harrogate sites as there is significant future potential to develop hub stores at these three key sites.

3. Contribution to Police and Crime Plan Priorities

Policing Priorities

  • Protect Vulnerable People
  • Cut Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour
  • Focus on Prevention and Early Intervention
  • Improve Victim Care

Corporate Priorities 

  • Transforming the Organisation
  • People First
  • Partnerships and Commissioning

Changing the way services are delivered by building on the dedicated Exhibits Management role and further supporting this through the identification and implementation of modern, fit for purpose facilities, will safeguard the integrity of evidence to support successful prosecutions and positive outcomes for victims and will reduce bureaucracy and increase productivity.

The proposal supports the Corporate Priority of putting People First by providing our teams with the right resource make-up, development infrastructure and facilities to allow them the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and abilities and contribute to the continued development of our service.  The proposed redesign of services and facilities will ensure that our staff are working in the right environment, with the right tools and support to provide the right level of service to our customers.

4. Implementation and Resourcing Implications

The high level proposed implementation timescales are:

High Level Proposed Implementation Timescales

  • Proposal to Executive Board – 22nd December 2015
  • Development and Submission of Planning Application – Jan 2016
  • Build to Commence (following approval of planning app) – Est. April 2016
  • Completion of Build – November 2016

The budget investment appraisal is attached in the full evaluation report at Appendix C of Part 2 of the Decision Notice.

Indicative development and equipment costs of £1.29m have been provided by Property and Facilities – this includes associated on costs (design, partner fees and contractors), all equipment for the York Store and a 10% contingency.  It should be noted that these are high level estimates and that a more accurate budget will be provided by Atkins Ltd on completion of a full site survey and detailed plans should approval be given to proceed.

In addition, the York development would attract additional annual revenue costs of £3,500 (building running costs over and above that which is currently allocated for running the existing facilities) and a one-off resource cost of £11,087 to support a full store audit prior to the move (Part 2, ref. 2.8).  This is substantially less than the £2.3m costs identified in developing a purpose-built wholly centralised exhibits and paper records store.

 5. Consultations Carried Out

Name (Collar Number) Department Comments
Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner

Joanna Carter, Chief Executive Officer (3594)

Office of the PCC Initial proposals to develop the York exhibits store were submitted to, and approved by, the Executive Board in 2015.

This paper enhances those initial proposals to incorporate and future-proof Major Crime and paper records storage requirements and has been widely discussed at the Estates and ICT Board.

Jane Palmer (4364) Financial Services Financial Services have reviewed the financial implications section.
ACC Paul Kennedy (1614)

Andrea Kell (0048)

Local Policing Discussions have taken place regarding the proposed options and consideration has been given to the provision of a regional Major Crime exhibits storage solution (ultimately not progressed).

Consultation has also taken place with Drugs Liaison Officers through their command structure and with Regional Forensics, all of whom support the proposed development of facilities, security and processes.

T/Ch Supt Lisa Winward (1992) Beyond Local Policing Direct feedback on the organisational storage requirements and the impact on the exhibits management process and the protection of evidence.  Further feedback to ensure alignment with the Estates Strategy, the Evolve Programme and the Information Management Records project.
Wayne Gill (4975)





Rosemarie Holmes (4647) Head of HR and Training


Human Resources Discussed implications of BAS Review and resource implications of proposed development and audit.  Will work to minimise impact on staff and cost to the organisation.
Jane Wintermeyer (3840) Joint Corporate Legal Services Feedback provided via Estates and ICT Board regular updates.
  Corporate Communications N/A
Jonathan Garrett (5782)

Richard Ayre (5813)

Property and Facilities Proposals developed in full consultation with Property and Facilities to ensure alignment with Estates Strategy.  Budget breakdown provided by P&F.
Sudeep Chatterjee (6655)

Stuart Mackleston (4016)

Information and Communications Technology ICT have provided the financial summary for IT-related developments contained within the proposal.
Bob Brigginshaw (6229) Transport Ian Dyer (exhibits manager) has discussed the impact of reducing the number of exhibits stores and the resultant requirement for an enhanced courier service from the orderly pool.
  Joint Corporate Commissioning and Partnership Services N/A
  Procurement N/A
Maria Earles (6825) Organisation and Development Feedback provided via Estates and ICT Board regular updates.
Sarah Wintringham (4809) Information Management Proposals have been developed in full consultation with the Head of Information Management to ensure alignment with the Storage project (priorities and timescales) and key Information Compliance drivers.

6. Compliance Checks

Financial Implications/Value for money: 

Chief Constables Chief Finance Officer Comments: 

The total expected costs of this proposal as set out in Part 2 can be summarised as follows:


The current version of the MTFP includes provision of £400k for the project costs for this proposal.  If this proposal is approved, the balance of £902k will require funding.  It will be possible to fund this from current reserves.  However, although it is unlikely to be necessary to borrow to fund this project, use of reserves for this purpose will mean that borrowing will be necessary for a future project.  The estimated costs of borrowing £1.3m over 25 years are an average of £83k pa (for interest plus Minimum Revenue Provision against the capital element).

Provision will be made in the MTFP for future recurring revenue costs of £1k pa from 2017/18 onwards.

PCC CFO Comments

£1.3m is a significant investment in the infrastructure of the organisation to provide better storage facilities for Exhibits and Records. However a better facility will not, in itself, result in the better management of property within the organisation and therefore it is vital that the other changes outlined within the Decision Note are also delivered. It is also vital that once built that this facility is maximised and that other storage facilities are no longer used, this will help to release savings. It is also important that having both a dedicated space, which is bigger than the current facilities, does not lead to less robust processes around property management, storage and disposal.

Overall whilst this is a significant financial investment, it would appear that the current facilities would benefit from modernising and it should help mitigate some of the risks that currently exist around property and exhibits storage and management and while the investment is unlikely to deliver any significant cashable savings, if the new facility aligns with better management processes and procedures then officer time should be freed up, less time should be spent in searching for property and better outcomes in court could be possible.

If the proposal delivers the benefits outlined within the Decision Note then it will be a worthwhile investment for the PCC to commit to.

Legal Implications: 

Having read this report and having considered such information as has been provided at the time of being asked to express this view, the Acting Force Solicitor and Head of Legal Services is satisfied that this report does not ask the PCC for North Yorkshire to make a decision which would (or would be likely to) give rise to a contravention of the law.

Human Resources Implications:           

I note the content of this proposal which seeks to ensure the organisation is best placed to respond to audit requirement whilst maintaining and developing a professional and efficient exhibits management service.  I understand that any resource implications or adjustments will be managed in the usual manner in accordance with normal practice surrounding change management and the requirements to consult and engage appropriately.

Public Access to information

As a general principle, the Commissioner expects to be able to publish all decisions taken and all matters taken into account when reaching the decision.  This Notice will detail all information which the Commissioner will disclose into the public domain.  The decision and information will be made available on the Commissioner’s website.

Only where material is properly classified as Restricted under the Government Protective Marking Scheme or if that material falls within the description at 2(2) of The Elected Local Policing Bodies (Specified Information) Order 2011 will the Commissioner not disclose decisions and/or information provided to enable that decision to be made.  In these instances, Part 2 will be used to detail those matters considered to be restricted.  Information in Part 2 will not be published.

All decisions taken by the Commissioner will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

Part two

Is there a Part 2 to this Notice – YES

If Yes, what is the reason for restriction –

The Chief Constable is of the opinion that the information included in part 2 falls under Section 2(2) of The Elected Local Policing Bodies (Specified Information) Order 2011, i.e. it

(c) might prejudice the prevention or detection of crime, the apprehension or prosecution of offenders, or the administration of justice;

Executive Group Sponsor(s) : ACC Paul Kennedy
Date created: 9th December 2015

Background documents:

I confirm that all the above advice has been sought and received against this and any associated Part 2 information and I am satisfied that this is an appropriate request to be submitted for a decision

Signature: Kate Williams

Date: 9th December 2015

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