06 March 2015 – 785.2014-15 – Freedom of information request – Staffing and costs of the OPCC
I write in connection with your request received by the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire on the 31st December 2014. Please accept our apologies for the delay in providing you with a response. I note you seek access to the following information:
- How many staff and officers are working for your post as PCC for North Yorkshire?
- What are the costings for this service and the expenses incurred?
- How many staff have been appointed since your position commenced and were these posts advertised?
- What is your office true budget for 2015 and do you have an actual underspend of £.5m?
- How can you justify your post after 2015?
Extent and Result of Searches
Searches were carried out within the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC). I can confirm that the information you have requested in questions 1-4 is held by the OPCC. There is no recorded information held specifically in answer to question 5, but an answer has been provided for you below, albeit outside of the Freedom of Information Act.
I have today decided to disclose the located information to you.
The information you have requested is published on the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) website and is available via the following link:
I am not obliged to provide you with a separate copy of this information as I am exempt from doing so pursuant to S21 of the FOI Act. Please see the exemption explanations below for further detail.
The information you have requested is published on the Police and Crime Commissioner’s website and is available via the following link:
The Office of Police and Crime Commissioner has 8 full time posts (3 are currently vacant), excluding statutory officers and the PCC herself (the Commissioner has chosen not to appoint a Deputy). There are two statutory officers, the first being the Chief Executive Officer, who is not based at the OPCC, rather at North Yorkshire Police HQ as she also has responsibility for approximately 17% of non-operational police staff (c200 FTE). The second statutory role is filled by a part-time Chief Finance Officer, shared with the PCC for Cleveland.
Due to staff changes and moves, since the appointment of the Commissioner, there has been a total of 9 appointments made (offers of employment) for the 8 FTE roles (excluding the statutory posts) within the immediate office of the OPCC. As you will see on the OPCC structure chart below, there are currently 3 posts still vacant. All posts were advertised, except one which was filled internally through redeployment.
The cost of the Police Authority in 2011/12 was £1,015,332. In 2012/13 the budget for the Police Authority was £1,080,000. This compares to the £911,898 budget for the Officer of Police and Crime Commissioner in the last financial year. That means that over the 4 year term of office of the Commissioner, she will save over £500,000 compared to the former Police Authority.
In direct response to your question, I have interpreted this request as relating to the budget for 2015/16. This information has not yet been published. In accordance with statutory publication requirements and the Commissioner’s publication scheme, this information will be published prior to the start of the new financial year. You can access the publication scheme via the following link:
As this information is already due to be published, I am exempt from providing you with a separate copy of it in response to your request pursuant to S22 of the FOI Act. I have explained this in further detail below.
The Commissioner’s Chief of Staff has provided the following response in answer to your question:
There are many reasons why the role of Police and Crime Commissioner is working much better that the former Police Authority. They can be summarised as follows, Public voice, Accountability, Cheaper and Transparency. Further detail on each aspect is provided.
Public voice: For the first time the general public of North Yorkshire have a say in local policing. The Commissioner channels the thoughts, concerns and complaints from the public and sets the Police and Crime Plan accordingly. This is via one-to-one meetings with the public, Town Hall style meetings, surveys, consultations, web chats, social media etc. As an example, following feedback from the public there are is now a renewed focus on road safety and rural crime. For a practical example, the Commissioner now employs a caseworker whose full time job is to liaise with public and support them in getting what they need from the police, whatever their concern or issue. This was not the case with the old Police Authority.
Accountability: There is now one individual who is firmly accountable to the public, both throughout their term of office as well as via the ballot box. This was not the case with a closed-shop, committee style Police Authority whose decisions were made slowly, behind closed doors and without specific individuals to hold to account. Taking direct democracy away from the general public would be a step in the wrong direction.
Cheaper: The OPCC is significantly cheaper than the former Police Authority. As explained earlier in this response, the Commissioner is due to save over £500,000 compared to the costs of Police Authority. This doesn’t even take into account the much greater focus on the public which comes from an OPCC as compared to a Police Authority.
Transparency: The level of transparency under the new system far outweighs the old. Not only does this come in the form of publishing every cost incurred by the OPCC, from stationery to high value contracts, but also in terms of publishing police performance information. For the first time, in the near future the performance meetings, chaired jointly by the Commissioner and Chief Constable, will be streamed online so members of the public can watch. Transparency is now the assumed position rather than not publishing information until asked. This can be seen by the publication of the review into former Chief Officers allowances and the recent Child Sexual Exploitation ‘health check’, and the report into Chief Officer allowances contained information which was not previously released by the old Police Authority.
I would like to point out, however, that this information is provided to you outside of the FOI Act as it is not a question for specific recorded information in accordance with the Act.
Section 17 of the Act requires North Yorkshire Police, when refusing to provide such information (because the information is exempt) to provide you the applicant with a notice which: (a) states that fact, (b) specifies the exemption in question and (c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.
Section 21 – Information Reasonably Accessible by Other Means
Section 21 is an absolute class based exemption and I am not required to consider the harm or public interest when applying this exemption.
Section 22 – Information Intended for Future Publication
Section 22 is a qualified class based exemption and I am required to carry out a public interest test when applying this exemption.
Under Section 10 there is a duty to publish financial budgets by the next financial year. Therefore in accordance with statutory publication requirements and the Commissioner’s publication scheme, this information will be published prior to the start of the new financial year.
Public Interest Test
Factors favouring disclosure
- Predicated spend for 2015/16 would enhance public knowledge.
Factors favouring non disclosure
- The information requested is already due to be published by the next financial year.
- Preparing the budget forecast before this time will involve a disproportionate use of force resources at this time.
After weighing up the competing interests I have determined that the disclosure of the requested information outside of the planned publication by the force would not be in the public interest. I consider that the benefit that would result from the information being disclosed at this stage does not outweigh the benefit of not disclosing the information prior to the planned publication date.
Pursuant to Section 17(1) Freedom of Information Act 2000, this letter acts as a refusal notice in relation to these parts of your request.