Jo Coles - York and North Yorkshire Deputy Mayor for Policing, Fire and Crime

Jo Coles - North Yorkshire Deputy Mayor for Policing, Fire and Crime

Assurance Framework

The aim of this assurance framework is to set out how the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire and York will hold North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service to account.

Why is it important for the Commissioner to hold the services to account?

To ensure that we make a positive difference to the public, every day it is important to continually monitor and assess delivery of outcomes against the Commissioner’s priorities which are set out in the Police and Crime Plan, and the Fire and Rescue Plan. 

To help the communities of North Yorkshire and York be safe and feel safe, the Commissioner’s priorities for North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire, Fire and Rescue service are; 

  • Actively engage with all communities to identify need and risk and to reassure. 
  • Work jointly as a trusted partner to prevent harm and damage, intervene early and solve problems. 
  • Deliver the ‘right people, right support, every time’. 
  • Maximise efficiency to make the most effective use of all available resources. 
  • Enhance positive culture, openness, integrity, and public trust. 

What is scrutiny?

There is a distinct difference between assurance and scrutiny. Assurance is ‘a positive declaration that a thing is true’. Assurances are therefore the information and evidence provided or presented which are intended to induce confidence that a thing is true amongst those who have not witnessed it for themselves. Scrutiny can bring a ‘reality check’ to assurance.

Whilst the Office of The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (OPFCC) regularly seek assurance from the services, we will also scrutinise them to ensure that we can effectively and formally evidence that positive progress and outcomes are being achieved. 

The Commissioner supports the four principles outlined by the Centre for Public Scrutiny which state that effective overview and scrutiny should;

  • Provide constructive “critical friend” challenge 
  • Amplify the voices and concerns of the public 
  • Be led by independent people who take responsibility for their role
  • Drive improvement in public services. 

Scrutiny carried out by the OPFCC will be inline with the principles above and will be at the heart of what we do.  

How will the Commissioner and the OPFCC measure progress against the plans?

We will monitor the police and fire service in a range of ways which are detailed below. 

Online Public Meeting

  • Bi-monthly, Five per year for each service (Break in August and December). Online Public Meeting
  • At this meeting the Chief Constable is held to account in their delivery of the Police, and Crime Plan and the Chief Fire Officer is held to account in their delivery of the Fire and Rescue Plan.
  • Police complaints are monitored, and lessons learnt.
  • Fire and Rescue complaints are monitored, and lessons learnt.

The meeting consists of several specific parts;

  1. Data is presented by the services and scrutinised by the Commissioner. This includes regular “static” data (the same data every month) and additional data which the OPFCC request based on information received or topical issues at the time.
  2. Specific areas of service (thematic topics) are identified in line with the Police and Crime Plan and Fire and Rescue Plan. The Chief Officers will report on these to ensure that the services are delivering against the priorities set by the Commissioner.
  3. Issues arising in between meetings which are identified by or brought to the attention of the OPFCC are discussed with Chief Officer’s in public.
  4. Third party reports, for example those produced by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), are closely scrutinised and necessary actions identified and monitored to support improvements.
  5. Public questions, submitted in advance and during the meeting are answered.

Public questions are sought as the Commissioner wants to make sure they are asking the questions the public want answers to, which is why these Online Public Meetings are so important. They allow the Commissioner to find out more about the work of the police and the fire and rescue service, and put the focus on topics which are important to residents and businesses across York and North Yorkshire.

We will publish, in advance, thematic areas on our website and in the lead up to these meetings we will use social media to encourage the public to participate and ask questions.

Executive Board (Monthly)

Monthly formal governance meeting between the commissioner, Chief Constable/Chief Fire Officer to ensure proper governance of the services and the OPFCC. This takes place through open, constructive debate of their respective statutory duties and the efficiency and effectiveness of their delivery against the Police and Crime Plan and Fire and Rescue Plan.

Chief Catch-ups

Closed informal briefing’s which enable dialogue and discussion on a weekly basis. This is an opportunity for the commissioner to discuss elements of the Police and Crime Plan delivery, and the Fire and Rescue Plan delivery based on weekly themes and receive updates on current issues and operational matters. 

Independent audit committee

The Audit Committee provides independent scrutiny on the adequacy of the corporate governance and risk management arrangements in place.  It advises the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Fire and Rescue Authority, according to good governance principles and proper practices.

Joint independent audit committee

The Joint Independent Audit Committee (JIAC) provides independent scrutiny on the adequacy of the corporate governance and risk management arrangements in place. It jointly advises the Commissioner and Chief Constable, according to good governance principles and proper practices.

Scrutiny Panels

Scrutiny Panels allow members of the public to hold North Yorkshire Police to account via review of incidents, policing powers and tactics. Panel observations, feedback and recommendations facilitate continuous learning, improvement of police services and identification of best practice.

Community Review Group

The community review groups will assess and provide feedback on areas which the scrutiny panels review. This includes, identifying good practice and areas for learning, making referrals and recommendations.

Independent Ethics advisory board

Under development with an independent chair. The Panel will provide independent and effective challenge and assurance around integrity, standards and ethics of decision-making in policing and fire.

Independent custody visitors

Independent Custody Visitors are members of the local community who visit police stations unannounced to check on the welfare of people in police custody.

Find out more about Independent Custody Visitors and get involved.

Violence against women and girls’ strategic governance board.

Six monthly Joint Violence Against Women and Girls Strategic Governance Board meetings, chaired by the Commissioner to monitor overall progress against our joint violence against women and girls strategic objectives and provide greater transparency and accountability to increase public confidence in how we are improving the overall safety of women and girls.

Frequent interactions

Informal interactions between the services and OPFCC staff. This enables and encourages spontaneous face-to-face discussions between Chief Officers, Senior OPFCC staff, who may receive:

  • Updates on significant issues
  • Notification of significant/critical incidents

OPFCC staff will also conduct site visits across North Yorkshire and York.

Complemented by:

Bespoke briefings from Chief Constable/Chief Fire Officer on significant or sensitive issues.

  • Senior OPFCC staff attending key meetings within the services (e.g. HMICFRS* Governance Board, Gold Groups, Risk and Assurance Boards, Performance boards, etc.)
  • OPFCC staff conducting further checks and audits.
  • Routine liaison between Senior OPFCC staff Senior Staff/Officers.
  • Feedback from Independent Custody Visitors and Appropriate Adults.
  • Regular meetings with public bodies and Inspectorates (e.g., HMICFRS).
  • Independent review of complaints.

The role of the Police, Fire and Crime Panel

The Police, Fire and Crime Panel is in place to support and scrutinise the decisions the Commissioner makes in between elections. The role of the police, fire and crime panel is to maintain a regular check and balance on the performance of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

More information about the Police, fire and Crime Panel can be found here North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel 

How do we scrutinise? 

To underpin improvements in the services, so that they can be the best they can at protecting us and keeping us safe and feeling safe, we will utilise the frameworks set out by HMICFRS to support our scrutiny. For example, we will use questions that HMICFRS use to establish how the services are performing and improving outcomes. 

We will also ensure that our plans and assurance incorporate the requirements set out in the Strategic Policing Requirement and any changes made to this by the Home Secretary.

Written submissions from the services

 When we ask the services to provide a written response to a scrutiny topic. For example, at an Online Public Meeting, we will ask them to provide an overview of the topic which will include an assessment of:

  • Current performance
    An assessment of current performance in the topic identified in terms of outcomes for the public of North Yorkshire and York. This will include the highlighting of both strengths and weaknesses.
  • What is working well?
    How do they know it is working well?
  • What are their plans to deliver improvements in this area?
    With clear targets, owners and timescales identified. In addition, any obstacles to delivery and how they plan to overcome them.
  • How will they know they have succeeded?
    A description of how they will evaluate the effectiveness of this plan.
    What is the benchmark for success and what targets have been set?
    With a description of the criteria or metrics which will be used to ensure they are heading in the right direction?
    What are the timescales?
    What will be seen and by when? 

How do we pick topics for scrutiny?

The Commissioner chooses what areas to scrutinise. An annual work programme sets out what areas will be scrutinised, and this is based upon both the Police and Crime Plan and the Fire and Rescue Plan. In addition, the programme is flexible to enable additional scrutiny to emerging issues.  

Topics, which are selected are based on evidence and the criteria for selection, are; 

  • Does this issue matter to the public?
    Is there significant public interest in this topic? Both at national and local level.
    Has this topic featured in a lot of complaints?
  • Will a review have impact?
    Will the review support and deliver improvements?
    Is there a need to support and influence change?
  • How are the services doing? What is their performance in this area?
    Are the services performing well in this area?
    Is performance good, but use of resources high?
    Does this area currently present a high level of risk to achieving the priorities set out in the Commissioner’s plans.
  • Are any other agencies looking at this issue?
    Will this topic be covered soon by HMICFRS?
    Has this topic recently been reviewed or inspected?
    Could scrutiny make a positive contribution by focussing areas of interest and making recommendations? What have scrutiny panels said about this area (if they have looked at it)
    Are there current or imminent major changes which would affect the value of this review.
  • Do we need to look again at this?
    Were improvements made and is there a need to ensure that the focus has remained?
    Is there evidence that performance has lapsed?

How will we know that our scrutiny is improving outcomes?

  • We will evaluate what the public tell us in our trust and confidence surveys and through information we receive into our office.
  • At our Delivery and Assurance Board we will regularly assess our performance against the OPFCC Delivery Plan.  
  • Additionally, the Commissioner carries out several consultations with the public and partners throughout the year 
  • We will review reports from external inspections such as HMICFRS and monitor the services delivery against any action plans developed because of these inspections. 
  • The Commissioner will publish an Annual Report, setting out how the Service has delivered against the Plan over the previous 12 months 
  • The public can contact the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner’s office to give feedback or ask questions about North Yorkshire Police Service and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service. Contact us.
  • The Commissioner holds regular appointment, confidential advice surgeries and drop-in surgeries at community locations. Meet the Commissioner.