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New Landscape of Policing - Home Affairs Committee Contents


Written evidence submitted by Police National Legal Database (PNLD) (NLP05)

PNLD (Police National Legal Database) is a not for profit organisation which is owned by and sits within the West Yorkshire Police estate. It must be stressed that the views expressed within this submission are not attributable to either that force or the authority.

This submission only addresses the first two questions in relation to procurement and the taking up of functions of the NPIA.

ABOUT PNLD

As stated above PNLD is a not for profit organisation which provides managed services in conjunction with its technology partners PDMS to the police services of England and Wales and other sectors of the criminal justice service (CJS). These services include:

—  Legal Information database and website for practitioners within the CJS.

—  Creation and dissemination of Standard Offence Wordings and Codes used within the CJS.

—  Police based Information FAQ database and website for the public and also for practitioners within the call handling arena of England and Wales and more recently Scotland.

—  National statistics database for use by police analysts and performance managers.

These services involve close working relationships with all police forces, ACPO, NPIA and other agencies within the CJS.

PNLD currently receive no central or external funding. As a not for profit organisation, all monies received through subscriptions are fed back into development of the current products, or the creation of new ones to assist with improving efficiency and contributing to police savings.

As an organisation we feel well placed to make comment on items 1 and 2 of the requested submission. PNLD and our technology partners have dealt with and deal with procurement departments across the police service and other government departments on a regular basis. We also work with departments within the NPIA particularly in the area of Case and Custody provision.

1.  What progress has the Government made so far, and what further steps should it take, in driving:
(a)  More effective procurement in the police service

1.1  Even though current procurement procedures are moving ahead within the police forces of England and Wales - specifically from a regional perspective, we at PNLD feel that the different structures across the country will continue to get in the way of potential collaborative projects as evidenced by PNLD's efforts to introduce a national recruitment advertising web site in 2009-10.

1.2  PNLD had for some time worked within a cost free collaborative agreement with such a site - "All Police Jobs". One force agreed to pilot the use of the site and the usage and savings were presented to ACPO and Chief's Council, APA, APACE, NPIA and the idea, in essence, was sanctioned together with the potential to take on responsibility of the "could you" site which was costing the Home Office £75k per year. However, when it came to attempting to both attract forces to the idea and move towards a procurement exercise, existing contracts and agreements, processes and procedures got in the way of moving things forward - and it is still held in abeyance.

1.3  A different experience was encountered in Scotland with the Scottish Forces where life was a lot simpler when we attracted interest in our Frequently Asked Questions database. All eight forces were engaged through a national group the process was assisted by ACPOS and the SPSA became involved at an IT level when dealing with our technology partners. The site was launched successfully, a lead force was selected different arms of the project and procurement was managed through SPSA - a lot simpler.

(b)  The removal of unnecessary bureaucracy in the police service

1.4  Bureaucracy and record keeping will always need to exist within public service in general and the police service in particular for the following reasons:

Evidence
Fairness
Transparency
Prevention of Corruption

1.5  Strides have been taken to minimise the unnecessary face of bureaucracy through legislation (such as requirement to complete forms for stop and account etc… and I am sure this will continue in the years and months ahead. We have also seen calls for a reduction in the need for as many statistics to be collected and disseminated.

1.6  However this was countered by the recent publication at www.police.uk of the crime maps. It would seem there is always an appetite for statistics and their interpretation.

1.7  The police service continues to have an obsession with audit trails and conform slavishly to processes which are there to protect the organisation(s). Evidence has been provided above re the procurement issues where common sense and an element of risk taking provided a more swift solution to a similar problem.

1.8  An element of "risk averse" procedures would assist in this regard.

(c)  Greater collaboration between forces and other partners, from both the private and the public sectors?

1.9  Having recently attended a National Collaboration Conference held at the NPIA centre, Ryton it is apparent there is a lot of work is proceeding which embraces the concept of collaboration. Operation Athena is a perfect example to hold up to the rest of the police service.

1.10  With the advent of the dissolution of NPIA as an entity within the police service, there will be a greater need to collaborate at both a private and public level.

1.11  PNLD are a perfect example of how collaboration with other public and private bodies in providing managed services does work and could work in the future.

1.12  We work with public services such as Ministry of Justice, the Crown Prosecuting Service and other law enforcement agencies to ensure the correct use of offence wordings and codes to ensure consistency at the beginning of the criminal justice process

1.13  We work with our technical partners to ensure a delivery of service to all our differing customers within the criminal justice arena which takes the responsibility of that area of business ie ensuring information is precise, correct and what the customer needs.

1.14  Within a mutually beneficial collaborative partnership, where a not for profit organisation such as PNLD is involved it can be ensured that product development and creation will always be at the forefront of any negotiations.

1.15  Any incentives from central government or private partners will always prove beneficial and may provide further motivation.

2.  Which bodies should take on the functions of the National Policing Improvement Agency when it is phased out?

2.1  Since its inception the NPIA has taken on responsibility for a wide variety of functions, all of which go a long way to support the police service.

2.2  It provides 20 or so what it terms "critical services" ranging from the national fingerprint database, the police national computer and the specialist operations centre together with another 200 or so support services which predominantly involve training support and some delivery.

2.3  Most of the critical services cannot be dissolved completely. The ones that require police oversight need to be identified and then moved to one of three options, the National Crime Agency (once governance is decided), ACPO or a lead force (collaboration)which has the resilience, constitution and stability to be able to support such an asset transfer - including IT infrastructure.

2.4  There are going to be some critical services which could be spun out of the public service such as DORS (Driver Training Scheme) and follow the social enterprise model.

2.5  The support services which mostly revolve around training provision need to be split into those which can be stopped completely (ie no requirement any more), those which can be delivered locally and those which can be delivered at other educational establishments.

2.6  There needs to be an overarching umbrella organisation which continues to set standards of training etc.. and devises curriculum.

2.7  There are smaller organisations in the policing/IT/Educational world which have connections within all forces (and with other agencies within law enforcement and the criminal justice arena), who are established in the world of public/private partnership and with some assistance could provide support to such an umbrella organisation.

2.8  PNLD are one such body who as has been previously explained operate as a not for profit organisation, are ideally positioned within the policing arena and already provide a variety of products for the benefit of the policing world and their partners.

2.9  They and their IT partners PDMS are well versed in the areas of collaborative and partnership working within the information handling arena and are a perfect example of where some of the smaller support services of NPIA could be taken on.

March 2011


 
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Prepared 23 September 2011