Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40-59)|
4 DECEMBER 2007
Q40 Ms Buck: What would be the characteristics
of those areas? Does that tell you anything about demographics
Sir David Normington: There is
the nature of those areas, but often it is very effective working
between the police and other agencies. It is people getting in
there early and nipping things in the bud; listening very hard
to what local people are saying and reacting to that and really
dealing with their concerns. It is having community support. When
local people stand up alongside the law enforcement and other
agencies then you can stop it.
Q41 Gwyn Prosser: Sir David, in his
interim report on policing, Sir Ronnie Flanagan says there was
a perception that officers needed "to engage in bureaucracy
at an unnecessary level". He singled out what he described
as "the marked increase in performance management requirements
from central government". Do you think that police officers
have been engaging in bureaucracy at an unnecessary level?
Sir David Normington: I think
we believe that there is a need to cut and tackle this issue of
police bureaucracy. This is a very interesting report. We have
already responded to some of it. We have decided to reduce the
number of national targets which impact on a local level. We are
also doing some very practical things about case management with
the CPS which will have a real early impact on the police. I think
there really is a need to tackle this issue. What is very interesting
about his report, and I am familiar with this from my previous
job in education, is what sometimes happens in public services
is that everybody adds a layer of requirements at every level
in their operation; and they do it partly because of their anxieties
about what if they step out of line, what if they do something
wrong. You often get not only a national framework but you get
things added to that national framework. Ronnie Flanagan is talking
a bit about that in his report, about the sort of culture that
develops where everybody is anxious about stepping out of line
if they do not record this and they do not record that. Getting
at that I think is the real key to making a very big step forward
on this; which of course by definition is much more difficult
than sorting out a particular issue. We are on both of those agendas
and it is really important to me.
Q42 Gwyn Prosser: A lot of figures
are bandied about, about the percentage of time that a police
officer has to devote to bureaucracy or administration. Are you
in position to estimate how that might be reduced by the introduction
of the new PSAs?
Sir David Normington: I cannot
relate at this moment the new PSAs to that. I think it is the
case that the latest figures show about 64% of a police officer's
time is spent on frontline duties and that is up by a small amount,
by just over 2%, over the last four years. I think it will not
just be by the way we change the national targets. I think there
are some very detailed things Sir Ronnie Flanagan has discovered
which I think we can fix as well. If we put them altogether I
hope we will see some significant saving in hours, not on frontline
duties. I would not like to make a prediction as to what that
Q43 Martin Salter: Sir David, I want
to ask you a couple of questions about the National Offender Management
Service, which I know has moved across to the Ministry of Justice
but this is on the Home Office Annual Report so I do not think
you can escape, and the whole issue of youth re-offending. Like
a number of people in this Place I was highly critical of the
NOMS legislationthe National Offender Management Service
bill in particular. I am reading in various press reports, and
hearing rumours, that NOMS may be about to be dismantled. Is this
Sir David Normington: Because
I am not responsible for it, I think I need to be a bit careful
about what I say about it.
Q44 Martin Salter: Just expand on
Sir David Normington: I am afraid
I do not know precisely what the Ministry of Justice's plans are
for NOMS. I do not think they are moving away from the principles
in the NOMS bill.
Q45 Martin Salter: Have you been
involved in discussions with the Ministry of Justice on the future
Sir David Normington: Not on this
Q46 Martin Salter: What do you think
NOMS has actually achieved so far?
Sir David Normington: I am sorry
I have to remember about NOMS, which I have not dealt with for
a few months. I think it had begun to set out a means of getting
much better end-to-end provision for offenders; in other words,
actually managing them through the whole system, rather than there
being dislocations as they pass between different agencies and
so on. I personally think most of what was promised had not yet
been delivered. Most of it was lying in the future. The bill had
just been got through, as you will remember it was very controversial;
and we have not yet implemented most of the things that were promised
in the bill.
Q47 Martin Salter: If it has a future,
and it was going to deliver more joined-up management of offenders,
what possible reason could there be for dismantling it, other
than to give justification to the Prison Governors' Association
comments that this was no more than a wasteful additional tier
of bureaucracy? It is either one or the other, is it not?
Sir David Normington: I do not
know. Forgive me, I do not know that it is going to be dismantled,
I really do not. Please do not put those words in my mouth. It
really must be asked of the Ministry of Justice. On the issue
of, can we manage offenders better through the courts, into community
sentences, or into custodial sentences and then into community
sentences, I do not think that issue has gone away. Improving
the effectiveness of all the things we do in probation and prisons
continues to be the objective. You can argue about the way of
achieving that. I still think (which is one of the important things
in the NOMS bill) that we will have a mixed economy in those things.
I do not know whether NOMS itself will survive, I really do not.
I do not think the principles underlying it are being withdrawn
Q48 Martin Salter: One can only hope
that the £2.6 billion spent on NOMS will actually pass scrutiny
in the final analysis.
Sir David Normington: So much
of that is on Probation Services and Prison Services.
Q49 Martin Salter: I understand that.
Sir David, the Home Office Annual Report makes reference to the
NOMS standard on the issue of the reconviction rate and re-offending
for young offenders, and that has now reduced to a slippage status;
in other words, we are going backwards. We have a situation in
our prisons, and our young offenders' institutions in particular,
where re-offending rates amongst young offenders, 16-18 year-olds,
are now over 70%. What are you trying to do to address this situation,
because whatever we are doing it is not working?
Sir David Normington: I think
it is one of the most intractable problems I deal with in the
Home Office. I think the work that was going on, not in NOMS as
such but to provide much better support for young people going
through the Criminal Justice System and better and more-up-to-date
interventions and so on, was aimed at reducing re-offending; trying
to improve the work of the youth offending teams; trying to improve
the Probation Service. There is some improvement but it is very
small against the scale of the problem, and it is certainly not
meeting the target. I think it remains one of the most intractable
issues we have in the Criminal Justice System.
Q50 Martin Salter: Sir David, did
you ever give any consideration to the argument that short sentences
for first-time young offenders are a complete and utter waste
of time, given that many of these young offenders can barely read
or write, have no prospect of gaining gainful employment outside
the prison; and, unless the prison estate has them for a considerable
period of time, there is no chance of getting them on proper rehabilitation
programmes, proper literacy programmes or preparing them for the
world of work, which seems to be the one thing which actually
cuts re-offending rates?
Sir David Normington: It depends
what they have done really as to whether they need a custodial
sentence. What I do agree with is that the things which prevent
people coming off crime are often to do with family support; they
are often to do with drugs treatment; they are often to do with
whether they have somewhere to live that provides a stable environment;
it is particularly to do with whether they can get into training
and get a job. Those things are the most important things you
can do to reduce re-offending. Some of those things are done in
custody, but most of them have to be done after people come out
or during them being on probation or in a community sentence.
The more effort that can go into those things the more we will
Q51 David Davies: Sir David, how
many people have officially left the employ of the Home Office
as a result of the decision to move prisons into the Justice Department?
How many people have transferred over?
Sir David Normington: It is just
over 51,000. Most of those are in the Prison Service itself.
Q52 David Davies: Actually I was
talking about Home Office Headquarters?
Sir David Normington: It is between
1,500 and 2,000 from recollection.
Q53 David Davies: Between now and
2010 you are committed to a 10% reduction in costs and you have
talked about reducing staff members by 2,700. Can you give us
an assurance that the 1,500-2,000 people who have already left
as a result of prisons coming under the Justice Department are
not going to be counted in this figure in any way whatsoever?
Sir David Normington: I can give
you an assurancethere is no fiddle going on here, I can
assure you of that.
Q54 David Davies: I am sorry, we
would never have thought so at all!
Sir David Normington: Just to
be completely clear, by the end of this financial year we have
to reduce our original target by 2,700. Just about 400 of that
target transfers to the Ministry of Justice, with the transfer
of those 50,000 staff. The target I have to hit this year is just
over 2,300 and we are within 70 posts of that.
Q55 David Davies: The rise in what
I suspect are consultancy fees, professional fees, is 359%. Is
that because of the reduction in staff at all? Are they simply
being replaced by more expensive consultants?
Sir David Normington: No. I think
you are referring to what shows up in our resource accounts. I
am really sorry to say this but these two figures year-on-year
are not comparable figures. What happened was the consultancy
fees used to be shown in different lines of the Home Office accounts;
they have now all been moved into the professional fees line and
that is why it is showing such a big increase. Because I think
it is right and essential, we are bearing down on the use of consultancies.
In the last financial year on a like-by-like basis we reduced
our spending on consultants by £8 million; this year it is
running at 14% of that sum, which will be around £20 million
when it comes out at the end of the year. I believe we need to
be much tighter on our use of consultants and, therefore, we are
trying to bear down on that. We are doing that while we are also
reducing our staff. We are not replacing one with the other.
Q56 David Davies: Finally, there
has been an under-spend in the Home Office Department. What do
you say to police officers who want the pay rise that has been
suggested by the independent board and are particularly aggrieved
that they appear to be being offered a lower pay rise than civilian
support staff, who I think are getting 3%?
Sir David Normington: There is
a small under-spend in the Home Office, but it is only a small
one. It is partly the result of both some technical things but
also on bearing down year-on-year on our admin costs, which means
we are actually cutting admin costs. The aim of that is to transfer
that money to the frontline. We will be announcing the settlement
on police I hope this week. I hope that will show we really are
trying to focus our resources on frontline policing. On police
pay, I have to be a little careful because we have not responded
yet to the arbitration panel's recommendations, and we will be
doing that shortly. Can I just say, we have to remain within the
Government's overall guidelines on pay.
Q57 Patrick Mercer: Good morning,
Sir David. You talk about your administrative budget, correct
me if I am wrong, but it seems from these figures that the under-spend
over the last three years respectively was 6%, 21% and 16%. It
does not sound like a small under-spend to me. The 5% target over
the CSR periodhow challenging is this target, particularly
in light of the under-spend administrative budget?
Sir David Normington: I can, but
I will not now, explain to you why those shortfalls are not as
great as they seem; it is something to do with receipts; it is
something to do with a draw-down from the Treasury which we then
did not spend so it is not real. The thing about the 5% is that
it falls particularly on what you might call the overheads in
the Home Office's budget, in the things that are not about frontline
spending; it is particularly about that. That is quite challenging
because you have to focus that on a proportion of our expenditure.
It is 3% overall but it is 5% on our admin budgets. I personally
think most organisations ought to be able to find year-on-year
reductions of that sort; but I do not think in an organisation
which is properly run you can do that easily. I think there is
the possibility of doing it through a variety of means. Some of
it will be through better procurement; some of it will be through
setting up a shared services centre; some of it will be through
actually bearing down on efficiencies in each of our main areas.
We have not got those plans in detail yet, because we have only
just agreed that figure with the Treasury, or rather been given
Patrick Mercer: Good luck!
Q58 Mr Streeter: You have asked for
an extra £52.2 million in the Winter Supplementary Estimate
to help with your drugs-related PSA targets. How are you going
to spend that money to help people get off drugs, and help reduce
Sir David Normington: Can I just
be clear about the Winter Supplementaries, what we have done we
have not got any extra money for drugs, we have allocated our
budgets on drugs later and therefore we were not able to show
them in the main estimates. What we are doing in the Winter Supplementaries
is aligning the estimates and the budgets. Nobody out there, I
am afraid, thinks they have got £52 million extra; it is
actually money that is in the budget. That is going on some of
the things we were talking aboutimproving the action locally
to tackle drugs, giving more support to the police so there is
drug treatment when they do drug testing and so on. The Drug Improvement
Programme is a big programme which is all about the things we
were talking about earlier.
Q59 Patrick Mercer: Your Annual Report
states that the audit of your efficiency savings were "broadly
favourable and raised no significant concerns". Did you measure
the impact of the efficiency savings on service quality? If so,
Sir David Normington: It is built
into our plans, as it must be, that value for money is about trying
to deliver the existing level of service or even better if possible
at less cost. Those two things go together. If you take the policing
area, I think the NAO actually were a little bit critical of this
and said, "Can we be sure that the police really saved this
billion pounds that you claim?" What we do is, HM Inspectorate
of Constabulary do inspect the quality of police service, and
if the police are claiming a saving in any area, in an area where
there has also been a decline in service, we do not allow them
to count that to the billion pound saving. There is a measure
which is trying to ensure there is a protection of service alongside
a real saving in costs. We try to apply that in other areas through
our audits and audits by the National Audit Office and so on.
As an act of policy you can decide you want to deliver a lower
quality of service if you want, but you cannot count that as a