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062/2013 – National eCommerce Programme for Policing – 13 August 2013

Executive Summary and recommendation:

eCommerce is a national solution which provides an end-to-end electronic process for any public facing transaction. The programme is split into two phases. Phase 1 is purely Firearms and Explosives Licensing, and phase 2 is considering additional transactional services (locally branded, but with a consistent look and feel). The solution will have a web-based front end. A key component of the eCommerce solution will be the Government’s ePay online payments engine, which enables police forces to receive payment from the public, for any service for which a fee is required.

North Yorkshire Police Firearms Licensing Department have lead on the design of the eCommerce solution and the new business processes map very closely onto our existing and desired working practices, there is an opportunity for North Yorkshire Police to be one of the 5 ‘pilot’ force for the Firearms and Explosives Licensing project, with an estimated ‘go-live’ date of February 2014.

Alternatively, we could adopt the solution at a later date in line with a ‘national roll-out’ scheduled for August 2014. Care would need to be taken to ensure that the roll out in North Yorkshire Police did not go beyond December 2014 as we would then be moving into the peak firearm and shotgun renewal period (3 years). 25 forces have signed a letter of intent to ‘take up’ the national solution.

Following consultation with forces the eCommerce Programme Board have now agreed that eCommerce Phase 2 will come on line during 2014/15. Whilst dates are yet to be finalised the next 4 applications will be; ePay for all policing services for which a payment is made, crime updates to victims and witnesses, freedom of information requests, including subject access and traffic speed awareness courses.

It is anticipated that the wider opportunities if realised have the potential to transform the way we deliver transactional services to the public, affecting a channel shift from traditional methods of transaction (such as over the phone, postal) to digital channels (online, through mobile applications).
It is recommended that:

The Commissioner signs a Collaboration Agreement pursuant to Sections 22 and 23 of the Police Act 1996 (already sent to Simon Dennis, Force Solicitor and Director of Legal and Compliance Services)
The capital (£50,000) and revenue (£55,000 over 5 years) funding required to implement eCommerce is allocated within the force budget, the projected staff saving is confirmed and identified wef 1 April 2014 and the income budgets for 2014/15 are uplifted to revised projections. That approval is given to start the project.

That information technology and project management resources are identified and allocated to implement eCommerce in NYP

That NYP adopt the role as one of the pilot forces for the implementation of eCommerce – for Firearms and Explosive Licensing.

Commission a scoping exercise which will enable the PCC and Command Team to make informed decisions regarding the ‘uptake’ of digitalised transactional services which are offered as part of the national eCommerce programme.

Police and Crime Commissioner decision:

Approved

Signature Date 13 August 2013
Title Police & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire
jm-signature

Part 1 – Unrestricted facts and advice to the PCC

Introduction and background

eCommerce is a national solution which provides an end-to-end electronic process for any public facing transaction. The programme is split into two phases. Phase 1 is purely Firearms and Explosives Licensing, and phase 2 is considering additional transactional services (locally branded, but with a consistent look and feel). The solution will have a web-based front end. A key component of the eCommerce solution will be the Government’s ePay online payments engine, which enables police forces to receive payment from the public, for any service for which a fee is required.

North Yorkshire Police Firearms Licensing Department have lead on the design of the eCommerce solution and the new business processes map very closely onto our existing and desired working practices, there is an opportunity for North Yorkshire Police to be one of the 5 ‘pilot’ force for the Firearms and Explosives Licensing project, with an estimated ‘go-live’ date of February 2014.

Alternatively, we could adopt the solution at a later date in line with a ‘national roll-out’ scheduled for August 2014. Care would need to be taken to ensure that the roll out in North Yorkshire Police did not go beyond December 2014 as we would then be moving into the peak firearm and shotgun renewal period (3 years). 25 forces have signed a letter of intent to ‘take up’ the national solution.

Following consultation with forces the eCommerce Programme Board have now agreed that eCommerce Phase 2 will come on line during 2014/15. Whilst dates are yet to be finalised the next 4 applications will be; ePay for all policing services for which a payment is made, crime updates to victims and witnesses, freedom of information requests, including subject access and traffic speed awareness courses.

It is anticipated that the wider opportunities, if realised, have the potential to transform the way we deliver transactional services to the public, affecting a channel shift from traditional methods of transaction (such as over the phone, postal) to digital channels (online, through mobile applications).

Matters for consideration

In particular reference to Firearms and Explosives Licensing, there have been significant revisions to working practices over the last 3 years in order to manage risk and to ensure public safety, this has increased the overall workload within the department by some 12% (a paper is to be submitted to the Executive Board regarding this in the near future), additionally the number of license and grant applications fluctuate year on year. The fluctuations in the volume of applications have been accommodated in previous years by flexing licensing staff numbers, including additional training requirements for new staff entering the unit (estimated 6 month lead in). It is anticipated there may be some savings as a result of having to recruit less additional staff at times of peak demand as implementing the solution will free up capacity in existing resources.

Costs are not currently factored into the Medium Term Financial Plan and without producing a business case, we cannot at this time quantify the level of financial savings. It is currently assumed that further savings resulting from reductions in budgeted full-time equivalent (FTE) posts will be minimal (potentially a reduction of 1 FTE) as the unit has previously reduced staff numbers.

A proposal to increase the fees associated with the firearms grant and renewal and variation has been agreed by the Treasury and awaits Ministerial signature (by the end of July 2013). This increase will be phased. Phase 1 will be an increase in grant fees by 70% and renewals by 55% in October 2013. Phase 2 will be whole cost recovery for the firearm and explosive licensing function by October 2015 based on the new eCommerce business processes. It is anticipated that any costs associated with the implementation of the eCommerce system will be more than offset by the increase in fees.

Table 1 shows the types of resources required to implement the eCommerce solution for Firearms and Explosives Licensing only. The pilot is due to run for 6 months with effect from September 2013 (timescales are subject to confirmation). Should the Executive Board wish to progress with this, there would be a requirement to develop a business case and/or decision notice immediately.

Table 1: High Level Resource Requirements for Firearms and Explosives Licensing Pilot

Function Activities Role
ISD Input will be required from ISD to help the software supplier (Software AG) design and implement the integration to our back office systems. The exact duration and help required will depend on our back office systems and whether the interfaces have already developed. Software AG will inspect our local environment for readiness, then manage and test integration in conjunction with ISD. Analytical Capability
Systems Engineers
Firearms Licensing Our firearms licensing department will need to prepare for the new ways of working and undertake User Acceptance Testing (UAT) of the solution. The project will create and refine UAT scripts during the pilot phase; however it will be our responsibility ensure that the solution works correctly. Software AG will provide approximately 1 day of training to our Firearms Licensing manager (or appropriate resource appointed as the Single Point of Contact), with the aim of them cascading that training to the rest of the firearms licensing team thereafter. Head of Firearms and Explosives Licensing
Firearms administrators to undertake UAT and training; process reengineering
Futures Project management/support for co-ordination of the rollout: It is anticipated that a project manager will be required to work closely with our Single Point of Contact from project mobilisation, so they can benefit from user group outputs and other knowledge sharing as the project progresses. Project Manager
Futures There will be a requirement to develop the business case/decision notice, identify the project benefits and redesign business processes. The process design would also need the input of the Firearms Licensing team. Business Analyst
Human Resources Depending on what we choose to do with the efficiency savings, we may require an HR resource to support change activities and manage people impacts. HR Manager
Communications Communications may be required to assist HR with the management of change activities and people impacts. In addition, there would be a requirement to manage internal and external communications regarding how these services have changed. Communications planning coordinator

It is anticipated that the same types of resources would be required for each business area identified as part of Phase 2 of the national programme and it would therefore amount to a programme of work. The timescales for this would be defined by the national programme plan which is yet to be confirmed.

The Head of Workforce Support Services has identified that there may be resource constraints in terms of capacity to undertake the technical design and configuration required locally, particularly should a programme approach be adopted. There may also be ongoing resource implications to maintain the e-commerce developments in the longer term. Should resource be required to support this in line with a February 2014 implementation, current activities which are being undertaken to address critical issues with the infrastructure will need to be re-prioritised or alternative resource options considered.

Other options considered, if any

NYP could decide not to adopt the eCommerce solution.

Contribution to Police and Crime Plan outcomes

A high level benefits and outcomes map is shown below

In order to fully understand how a wider programme of transformation may contribute to the delivery of the Police and Crime Plan outcomes, it would be necessary to undertake a more detailed scoping activity to determine:

  • what our transactional services are and the volumes of these transactions
  • the current business processes and where there is opportunity to automate them
  • the current cost of those transactions and the current level of customer satisfaction with these services
  • customer demand for the digitalisation of these transactions
  • a detailed understanding of the exact resource requirements to deliver a complete solution through a programme of work

This study would need to determine where the greatest benefit to customers and North Yorkshire Police could be derived from digitalising services. This information could then be used to inform future decisions regarding the uptake of additional processes which are offered as part of phase 2 of the national programme.

Consultations carried out

Informal discussions regarding firearms and explosives licensing with local special interest groups such as the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Countryside Alliance, National Gamekeeping Organisation and Clay Pigeon Shooting Association suggest that they are very supportive of the introduction of an eCommerce solution for Firearms and Explosives Licensing.

A stakeholder survey of 100 NYP certificate holders who have recently renewed or had granted certificates granted indicates a strong support for eCommerce, 92% had internet access, 75% indicated that they would use an ‘on-line’ application process, 86% wanted to be able to pay for services ‘on-line, 80% wanted to be able to user other firearms licensing services and 62% wanted to be kept regularly updated.

Financial Implications/Value for money

The eCommerce solution requires a one off capital payment £50,000 consisting of £38,000 joining fee and for Firearms Licensing £12,000 for IT (if we went forward as a pilot force we would only pay this on signing off our User Acceptance Testing). There would be no additional joining fee regardless of whether or not we implemented other transactional services. The only additional costs incurred would be for the purchase of the transactions and any other IT support required for that particular service.

The revenue costs for Firearms and Explosives Licensing have been confirmed and the only chargeable transactions are those that will result in the production of a certificate or permit. Transactions can only be purchased in ‘blocks’ of 1,000. The cost for Firearms and Explosives Licensing is £1.98 per transaction.

Assuming year 1 is 2013/14, and based on data held within the Firearms and Explosive Licensing Department costs can be forecast as per the Table 2. The combined capital and revenue costs would be £105,000 over 5 years.

Table 2: Revenue Costs for Firearms and Explosive Licensing eCommerce solution over 5 years

Year Certificates/permits Transactions Max Revenue Cost
2013/14 000 7000 £13.8k
2014/15 4200 5000 £7.9k
2015/16 5800 6000 £11.8k
2016/17 9100 9000 £17.8k
2017/18 7700 8000 £15.8k
Total 33800 35000 £67.10k

The costs for further processes which will be introduced as part of phase 2 of the national programme are estimated at being no more than £0.99 per transaction (this includes design, development support and maintenance costs).

Chief Constables CFO Comments as follows:

There is no specific provision in the MTFP for the capital costs, and the ongoing revenue costs are not budgeted. However, the anticipated fee increase in 2014/15 looks as if it is under budgeted (ie we now expect to get further income over and above that already budgeted in 2014/15 onwards). If the proposal is approved, it is recommended that the 1 FTE staff saving mentioned in the report is confirmed and removed from the budget from 2014/15 onwards, and the income budget for 2014/15 onwards is uplifted.

Legal Implications

Currently, firearms and shotgun licence applications must be made to the Chief Constable of the area in which the applicant lives. The Firearms Acts (1968 – 1997) govern the licensing process, including the information and fees – any proposed solution for Firearms and Explosives Licensing must comply with these Acts

For the project to progress with our involvement, the Commissioner must sign a Collaboration Agreement pursuant to Sections 22 and 23 of the Police Act 1996. This will see the Police & Crime Commissioner for Dorset act as lead authority for the project and, as owner of the contracts, bear the main risk and responsibilities in respect of the contracts.

Otherwise, having read this report and having considered such information as has been provided at the time of being asked to express this view, the Deputy Force Solicitor 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.

Equality Implications

There are no equal opportunities implications.

Public Access to Information

The Police and Crime Commissioner wishes to be as open and transparent as possible about the decisions he/she takes or are taken in his/her name. All decisions taken by the Commissioner will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

As a general principle, the Commissioner expects to be able to publish all decisions taken and all matters taken into account and all advice received when reaching the decision. Part 1 of this Notice will detail all information which the Commissioner will disclose into the public domain. The decision and information in Part 1 will be made available on the NYPCC web site within 2 working days of approval.

Only where material is properly classified as restricted under the GPMS 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 of the Form will be used to detail those matters considered to be restricted. Information in Part 2 will not be published.

Is there a Part 2 to this Notice – NO

Originating Officer Declaration – Author name: Dave Coutts, Head of Firearms and Explosive Licensing Collar number: 6016

Tick to confirm statement √
Director/Chief Officer Joanna Carter has reviewed the request and is satisfied that it is correct and consistent with the NYPCC’s plans and priorities. 3652 Leanne McConnell, Head of Criminal Justice 25/07/13
Legal Advice Legal advice has been sought on this proposal and is considered not to expose the PCC to risk of legal challenge. Jane Wintermeyer 3840 08/08/13
Financial Advice The CC CFO has both been consulted on this proposal, for which budgetary provision already exists or is to be made in accordance with Part 1 or Part 2 of this Notice Jane Palmer 004364 25/7/13
Equalities Advice An assessment has been made of the equality impact of this proposal. Either there is considered to be minimal impact or the impact is outlined in Part1 or Part2 of this Notice. Dave Coutts 6016 25/07/2013
I confirm that all the above advice has been sought and received and I am satisfied that this is an appropriate request to be submitted for a decision Dave Coutts Date 25/07/2013
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