Public Accounts - Minutes of EvidenceHC 1863

HOUSE OF COMMONS

ORAL EVIDENCE

TAKEN BEFORE THE

PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE

MOBILE TECHNOLOGY IN POLICING

WEDNESDAY 29 FEBRUARY 2012

ALEX MARSHALL, AILSA BEATON and BILL MALLOY

DAME HELEN GHOSH, NICK GARGAN and STEPHEN RIMMER

Evidence heard in Public

Questions 1 - 192

USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT

1.    

This is a corrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee, and copies have been made available by the Vote Office for the use of Members and others.

2.

The transcript is an approved formal record of these proceedings. It will be printed in due course.

Oral Evidence

Taken before the Public Accounts Committee

on Wednesday 29 February 2012

Members present:

Margaret Hodge (Chair)

Mr Richard Bacon

Stephen Barclay

Jackie Doyle-Price

Matthew Hancock

Meg Hillier

Mr Stewart Jackson

Fiona Mactaggart

Austin Mitchell

Ian Swales

Amyas Morse, Comptroller and Auditor General, Gabrielle Cohen, Assistant Auditor General, Aileen Murphie, Director, National Audit Office, and Marius Gallaher, Alternative Treasury Officer of Accounts, were in attendance.

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Alex Marshall, Chief Constable, Hampshire Police, Ailsa Beaton, Director of Information and Chief Information Officer, Metropolitan Police, and Bill Malloy, Head of Business Strategy & Improvement, Wiltshire Police, gave evidence.

Q1 Chair: Welcome, everybody. I am sorry that we are running a little late. May I first welcome Stewart Jackson as a new member of the Public Accounts Committee? I formally put on the record his entry in the register of interests.

Let us make a start. I particularly thank the three of you for agreeing to attend. You have probably understood, but I will explain in case you have not, what this session is about. It is to help us develop an understanding for when we question the accounting officers on issues arising out of the programme. It is really your opportunity to comment, as much as you like, on the experience of this particular programme.

We are also quite interested in seeing how it would impact on future developments, particularly given that, as we understand it, quite a lot of the financial cuts that you are trying to make will come out of this. I must say that I was a bit surprised to see that 10% of your expenditure goes on IT. That is obviously a rich seam for trying to achieve savings, if you can, while maintaining front-line services.

Over to you. Ms Beaton, do you want to start, talking us through what went wrong with this one-as it obviously did, from the NAO Report-what we can learn from it and how you think things will work in the future, particularly with the new organisation and the new structure?

Ailsa Beaton: I am happy to start off. The issue with this particular piece of work and this particular initiative was the way that it started, as opposed to its results, in that the objective for the project was to hand out a number of mobile devices to the police service as opposed to some business benefit that came from handing out devices. Secondly, because of the tight time scale that was put to the roll-out of those devices, there was not the opportunity to derive business benefits from them, in the way that there would have been had a more business benefits approach been taken.

If I look at, for example, the project that we had in the Metropolitan Police Service, there is a business benefit which doesn’t come from simply giving officers a PDA device benefits they arise because of what is on that device and the way that that device is tied to back-end systems. The Metropolitan police has saved about £1 million year rolling out its 3,700 devices, because instead of someone writing out a ticket for a member of the public-whether that is for a stop and search or a fixed penalty notice-and then someone having to key that in at the office, what goes into the PDA device automatically goes into the back-end computer systems.

To derive the business benefit that comes from not having the re-keying, you need to tie the devices into those back-end systems and you need to know that you can do that. When the first invitation to bid came out, it was largely forces that already had some mobile device project in hand that were best able to say, "Yes, we can roll out a device, give it to an officer and achieve some kind of benefit by the deadline that you are giving us."

Q2 Chair: I can understand the issue around the deadline: there was this tight timetable, and you had never done it so fast because, as I saw it from the trial period, it had taken you 30 months. What I do not understand is that there had been trials going on before this particular package. I can see what happened-it was presumably a sudden annual Budget or autumn statement package of capital money that was released. You had had your trials, and one assumes that lessons had been learned from the trials. There were some clear and not complex objectives: getting police officers out more, better efficiency and so on. I cannot quite get why you could not build the experience of the trials into the management of the project.

Ailsa Beaton: You could build the principles that came from the trials into the management of the project. They showed you needed for example some integration with back-end systems and access to the police national computer. The difficulty is that the 43 forces do not all have the same back-end systems, so it is not as if when you have put a mobile device into one police force and you simply take what you have done there to make it work in another force, because that other force would have a different set of back-end systems that need integration.

Q3 Chair: I do not know if Bill Malloy or Mr Marshall wants to comment, but it takes us neatly into what the hell is the point of NewCo. Perhaps one of you wants to pick that up. If there are 43 separate police authorities and they will be even more independent, with their own elected police commissioners, what is the point of taking the current organisation and pushing it into a limited company? Do you want to take that or do you want to comment elsewhere?

Alex Marshall: I will take it and, in doing so, will comment elsewhere, if that is okay. The point of the centre is to ensure that there are a set of rules and that the forces using IT make the best-value decisions, bearing in mind the 20% budget reductions that everyone is facing, and they can talk to each other and do police business across the whole country regardless of which particular system they happen to have purchased. I am not sure that it is the role of the centre to prescribe which system to go with. It is the job of the centre to prescribe how it must work and how it must be able to join to other forces.

An example for us with mobile data is that we have a records management system so most of our systems are linked together anyway. Several other forces have the same make of system. We did not go into the mobile data phase 1, the first roll-out of money, because my force was not ready at that time to change its business processes to make the best use of the mobile data. We did come in at phase 2, and the mobile data was very much part of changing the way that we worked, changing the rules, changing the culture, changing the supervision and, therefore, making sure that it enabled all the changes we needed to make to save £54 million in the case of Hampshire Constabulary, and transform the way in which we operate at the front end. From that, we have made genuine cashable savings. We have also met the original objectives of visibility and being more effective.

Q4 Chair: Only five police authorities chose to go with the acceleration package-whatever that was-which might have saved you a lot of money. As for the monitoring suggested at the same time, they seemed to spend £9 million on, one, a dubious contract for what I understand was called an acceleration package, and, two, establishing a way of monitoring whether you were getting value for money out of the investment. They both completely flopped, so it looks to me as though it is £9 million down the drain. Is that true, and why should things be different? You chose not to use the centre last time; why will you choose to use the centre in the future? Does Bill Malloy or any of you wish to comment on that? I want to give you all a chance to have a go.

Bill Malloy: The situation that Wiltshire was in was different from the experience of the Met. We did go in early, and we were already looking at mobility solutions. We have to bear in mind that different forces have different geographical areas. In Wiltshire, we have a large geographical area that covers the likes of Salisbury plain and the 1,000 or so officers we have are quite spread out, so that the job of actually managing those officers across that geographical area is quite a challenge. That is why we were looking quite early on at mobility, so obviously, when this opportunity came up, we grabbed it. We started the work quite early. We invested about £1.7 million in mobility and that has come back to us now. We make about half a million pounds a year savings on that. Our time out of station has increased and our new operational policing model revolves around the mobility solution. There have been significant advantages to us.

Chair: I am trying to see where you come on the various diagrams.

Q5 Meg Hillier: Can I ask what technology you plumped for? Can you give us a feel of how you use it?

Bill Malloy: Yes. We use PDAs across the force. We have 95%-

Q6 Meg Hillier: BlackBerrys?

Bill Malloy: No, they are HTC PDAs. They are a couple of years old now, but at that point in time we worked quite closely with the supplier, and that was the route that we chose to go down.

Q7 Meg Hillier: Are they bespoke to Wiltshire?

Bill Malloy: They are-not the PDAs, but the back-end system is bespoke to Wiltshire. We managed to integrate some of our software at the back end of the systems that we have talked about, but we have a different flavour from most other forces, so it has to be fairly unique to fit our requirements.

Q8 Mr Bacon: In what way are your requirements different from most other forces’?

Bill Malloy: We referred to it earlier with respect to the number of back-end systems that we have. We integrate with PNC, which all forces have, but at the back end, our records management system is slightly different. We have 15 forces in the UK-ourselves and Hampshire-who have the same records management system. There are also other systems that we integrate with-our task-in system, our duty system and so on. It is that combination, that footprint among forces. You do have elements of overlap from one force to another, but you tend to find that not all forces have the same footprint.

Q9 Mr Bacon: I was not referring to how you do what you do, although that is the answer that you have given; I was referring to what it is that you have to do in order to be the police force in Wiltshire. How does that differ from all the other forces? Is it really that different?

Bill Malloy: It can be quite different, because Wiltshire is a very rural area. The main conurbation we have is Swindon. Some of the other, larger forces-the Met, for example, and Hampshire-have a much different requirement. That is why some of our requirements are quite-

Q10 Mr Bacon: I am still agog that 43 police forces can come up with 2,000 different systems, which is 46.5 systems per force. Norfolk is a very rural area, too. I am glad the ISIS project is now in train and appears to be aiming towards rationalising this, but how did it ever get to be such a spaghetti-like mess in the first place?

Bill Malloy: I would not like to offer an answer-

Chair: I think Mr Marshall is going to comment on that.

Mr Bacon: Anybody.

Alex Marshall: I would not particularly like to, either, because the truth is that there is a history, going back to the invention of the computer. The 43 forces at that time chose various ways of doing their business as computers were introduced. Unpicking that starting point is very much within the realm of our-

Q11 Chair: So why on earth have we got NewCo? What is NewCo going to do?

Alex Marshall: I don’t think it is for me to answer that question.

Q12 Mr Bacon: From your position as a chief constable, what do you want it to do? What are you looking for?

Matthew Hancock: The purpose of this hearing is to give us some context in which to put questions to those who have a responsibility, as well as an interest in answering.

Alex Marshall: As I said, I think it is for the centre to say what the business rules are and how we must be able to connect to each other to make sure that we can share intelligence and information-if you report a crime in Thames Valley, it does not matter, because the information can be passed to other forces. It is the centre’s role to set those parameters and those business rules. Actually, experience has shown us that, sometimes, negotiating and understanding how you operate locally means you can strike a very good deal and come to a good conclusion, but it must not be to the hindrance of working with your neighbours.

Q13 Matthew Hancock: I understand that. It is reflected across a lot of the work we do, so I recognise that. In the Report’s conclusion on value for money, which is on page 10, paragraph 20, I was surprised to read that "only a minority of forces, around one in five, have used mobile technology…to improve…efficiency of their…processes"-redesigning how you do the job as opposed to just doing the old processes with new technology. We have three different forces here, if only one in five is improving its processes, and therefore getting the best cash savings it can-are you? Have you changed the way that you are doing your job to make the most of this technology?

Alex Marshall: Absolutely. I said that we did not go into phase 1 because we wanted to be more ready to change our business processes to make sure that mobile data was a part of transforming the organisation, and not just a way of computerising existing bureaucracy. I find it hard to believe that any of the 43 forces are sticking to their original way of doing business, when they are facing 20% cuts.

Q14 Chair: But they are. Why are you not sharing? We are going round the houses a bit, because they are. That is what our report tells us and therefore, we are trying to identify what is wrong. The centre appears to have failed to deliver, from what I have read in the report. Therefore, have we got any confidence that the new central organisation-NewCo-will do any better?

Ailsa Beaton: I am not sure that it is my place to comment on NewCo, but it may be worth me talking a little about some work that ACPO is doing with the NPIA at the moment, around something called a Police Activities Glossary. It looks at all the different activities there are in policing-whether that is reporting a crime, or booking someone into custody, and the like-and aims to come up with a common business process model. You are right to say that these processes are the same-although things may be done in a slightly different order in different forces, booking someone into custody is booking someone into custody. It is governed by PACE legislation and therefore, we are working very closely to make sure that we come up with this common model of business process across the police service.

Q15 Chair: But you cannot impose it.

Ailsa Beaton: No, it could not be imposed, but as Mr Marshall says, because of the cuts that everyone is facing, if the work is being done, why would you go and do something different yourself? Why would you not work with the group that is trying to develop that? We are running workshops to ensure that that Activities Glossary is pulled together across the police service.

Q16 Chair: But why didn’t they on this one?

Ailsa Beaton: Because this predates the development of that work. The other thing to say is that I do not expect that Policing Activities Glossary to lead to a single system for the police service overnight, because different forces will need to renew their systems at different times. I suggest that it is not necessarily a bad thing-although you would not want to have 43 different versions-to have two or three different generations available at a point in time, which is probably much better for performance and competition than all 43 having exactly the same system at the same time. What the Policing Activities Glossary does is give a baseline, so people are not reinventing what policing is all about.

Q17 Austin Mitchell: It was sold at the time as a way of making police forces more efficient and getting more police out on the beat; people would have mobile devices to report in and record. In Hampshire, are you one of the one in five?

Alex Marshall: We have changed the way we operate. It has kept officers out on the streets who would have been in the station, or popping back to the station. They are out more often and we have more people out. Equally, it has allowed us to employ fewer people in back-office functions. For example, officers now can make a crime report from the scene of a crime straight on to their mobile data terminal, on to their Toughbook. The crime is therefore recorded and no one else is involved in the process. A recent development is electronic witness statements. We can go to the house of a victim or witness-not drag them into a police station-where we take a statement from them on a mobile data terminal and put an electronic signature on the bottom of it. That is then sent straight into the custody suite at the police station, and straight into the electronic court file.

Q18 Austin Mitchell: Sounds good, but do all your officers have a mobile device? If some do not, you still have to retain the paperwork to cover the overlap.

Alex Marshall: All the patrolling police cars have a mobile data terminal fitted into the car, and they can take it out of the car and into the house of the victim or witness. So, the patrolling officers have that device. Some of the officers who are on foot or on bicycle have BlackBerrys, and we will roll out more of those in the future. Detectives will have a type of laptop, similar to the Toughbook-

Q19 Austin Mitchell: They will have, but don’t now.

Alex Marshall: No, we are in various stages of rolling it out. We have completed two stages. Our police authority has just agreed to invest another £2.5 million in the final stage of rolling it out to all the people who will need it. We are about 50% of the way there at the moment.

Q20 Austin Mitchell: How about Wiltshire? Has it increased your efficiency and got more people out on the beat?

Bill Malloy: Yes, it has. Our response rates have gone up since we rolled out the mobile technologies. Our time out of station has improved significantly as well, so we have got a similar story to tell.

Q21 Austin Mitchell: Do all officers have a mobile device?

Bill Malloy: We have 95% of our officers who have PDAs, so they do have them in our force. The 5% who do not have one have other roles that do not require a PDA.

Q22 Austin Mitchell: You both sound to be model forces, in that sense. Are you going to be able to afford the continuous spending that is necessary to update and keep up with the technology?

Alex Marshall: I do not think we can afford not to, if we are going to change how we do business. It is an investment made by the Home Office and the NPIA-

Q23 Austin Mitchell: It is going to be a substantial drain, though, isn’t it, paid for by you? There is going to be a substantial expense.

Alex Marshall: The initial payment came from the Home Office and the National Policing Improvement Agency, which got us going down here. Since then, the police authority has invested another £4 million in mobile data to ensure we can work in a very different way and employ far fewer people across the organisation.

Chair: It is interesting that you are sounding much more positive than the report says.

Stephen Barclay: Can we have a breakdown-I appreciate that it will not be for Wiltshire-of all the forces that did not work more efficiently? We are saying that only one in five did. I do not think we went down the other forces, but Mr Marshall said that your force was in the 20% that did. Could we have a breakdown from the Home Office of all the forces that did not do that so that we can see who was the accountable person?

Q24 Fiona Mactaggart: I think you are the A* candidates, which is why you have been let loose on us to start with. You are the models of how to do this, and you suggested you have much better savings than the report suggests. I am interested in the impact on collaboration, in a system where different things have happened. Hampshire collaborates with Thames Valley, for example. What have been the kind of boundary issues-obviously, there are boundary issues between the Met and the many forces around the Met-and the collaboration issues?

Alex Marshall: Are you happy for me to answer that question, Chair?

Chair: You choose between you.

Ailsa Beaton: In the Met, only a small number of officers have these devices. We have got 3,700 devices.

Q25 Chair: What is that? One in what?

Ailsa Beaton: I suppose it must be one in six, or something like that.

Q26 Fiona Mactaggart: How many of your officers are using their own private mobile phones to do police business?

Ailsa Beaton: I do not think any of them is using a private mobile for data type of work.

Q27 Fiona Mactaggart: I have watched them send photographs of suspects back to the office and from the office on their private mobile phones in the Met.

Ailsa Beaton: I meant in terms of filling in forms. There is no form-filling, using private phones I am not aware of any boundary issues that have come from our issuing these mobile devices.

Alex Marshall: The Thames Valley and Hampshire example has been helped because we have got one IT department across the two forces. That starting point is quite good, but we have still got the legacy systems. Over a period of time, with the chief constable of Thames Valley, we are converging our systems to make it more straightforward. I cannot pretend there are not still barriers, because each of the forces has a separate history.

Bill Malloy: In the south-west, we collaborate well on a number of projects-covert and various other projects like that. On the IT side of it, we are moving into a more collaborative working model across the south-west, certainly between ourselves and Dorset and Gloucestershire. We are starting to have a look at more collaborative ventures across IT in general. That will obviously include mobility as an example.

Q28 Fiona Mactaggart: The other issue as well as collaboration is resilience-the resilience of devices, the ability to hear devices in difficult situations, and interconnectivity with other services such as British Transport police, the underground and so on. What is that like at present?

Bill Malloy: There are probably two answers to this: first, where we are now and, secondly, where we are going-the direction of travel. The market at the moment is dominated by the consumers and there has been a bit of a change in that respect, so that is going to be our challenge. When we start talking about resilience, it really does depend on the consumer market, the turnover of devices, the availability of network, network coverage, and so on. Those are the sorts of issues we are facing at the moment. However, we do have multiple devices. We have the Airwave radios as well, and they have some 98% coverage in the UK and are fairly robust and resilient, so it is belt and braces quite often.

Q29 Fiona Mactaggart: So your model is Airwave-plus?

All witnesses: Yes.

Q30 Ian Swales: I remember reading a while ago that the way to get away with a crime is to live in one force area, commit the crime in a second, and leave the evidence in a third, because the chances are that you will never get caught. That is perhaps somewhat cynical, and I am delighted to hear these stories of collaboration, but I would like to return to something that Mr Marshall said a few minutes ago about the need for central guidance on data standards. You made that comment without giving any value judgment on how it is going and what needs to be done. It is an important point, so could you say a bit more about that?

Alex Marshall: The Airwave radio gives us connectivity across all forces and to other agencies, so that is great across the whole country. The police national computer-the PNC-gives everyone access to criminal record data. More recently, the police national database gives us access to intelligence, which, going back to the Soham case, clearly is very important to share across borders. The next step is towards making sure that all forces can communicate effectively with each other on crime reporting and other systems. Forces are actually beginning to coalesce around a much smaller number of systems, because it is market driven.

Q31 Ian Swales: You say "making sure", and my real question is: to what extent does the Home Office need to prescribe data standards and so on? I do not know how the costs of such changes are met. To what extent do you think there is a need for central guidance, or are you satisfied that, over time, the 43 forces will just get there by osmosis?

Alex Marshall: No, I think there is a need for central guidance on the business rules and standards that we all must operate to.

Q32 Ian Swales: Are you getting that? That is the core of the question. Are you getting the kind of direction that you think you should get from the Home Office on these matters?

Alex Marshall: Largely, yes, but there needs to be more and it needs to be clearer and stricter on the rules and the data requirements.

Q33 Ian Swales: A figure in the Report says that, on average, only 3% of the budget for this is spent on business change. All the rest is spent on help desks and buying devices and so on. To all three of you, what is your view on that number? I suppose, as Ms Mactaggart said, we may have the A* candidates in the room, so what do you think your figure has been on spending on business change?

Bill Malloy: The vast majority of our expenditure has actually gone on business change.

Q34 Ian Swales: The majority?

Bill Malloy: The majority of the money that we spend in this area goes on business change, either on training and development or actually implementing our new operational policing model, which has not been at zero cost.

Q35 Chair: Was that under this programme?

Bill Malloy: Not all of it was under this programme. We integrated-

Q36 Chair: When you implemented your bit of this programme, because you were an early enthusiast, did you only spend 3% on business change?

Bill Malloy: No, we did not spend 3% on business change.

Q37 Chair: Aileen, where do you get these figures from?

Aileen Murphie: These were from the forces that sent back data from the survey. We got replies from 32 forces, but 23 of them gave us data that we could analyse by category. The 3% came from those returns.

Q38 Ian Swales: The reason I am asking the question-I am already beginning to get the answer-is that the forces that are having the most success are probably spending the most money on business change, but let me not predict what the other two witnesses will say.

Ailsa Beaton: I would say that, when we put the costs against this project to understand what it costs, where there has been business change it has not been an external cost. Therefore we have not necessarily allocated it to this project. I have a team of people who have worked on putting our PDA and mobile devices out. We have worked with many front-line operational officers, but their time will not have been charged to this project, because it has not been their main job.

Q39 Ian Swales: When you say putting the devices out, I presume that you do not just mean sending them to the individuals. What kind of things got done that you would not have costed and charged to the project?

Ailsa Beaton: The team that was introducing the devices into a particular OCU would have gone there with the devices and done various presentations.

Q40 Ian Swales: Training?

Ailsa Beaton: Training, yes, being around when people were initially using the devices, collecting the requirements as to what forms should go on the devices.

Q41 Ian Swales: So if training took place in existing offices, you did not cost that activity separately?

Ailsa Beaton: Exactly.

Alex Marshall: We received about £770,000 from the NPIA and the Home Office towards mobile data, of which we spent about 10% on business change-about £70,000. However, in the same period of time, we have redesigned the entire organisation and spent between £15 million and £20 million on changing the organisation, and the mobile technology has been very important in doing our business very differently. For example, in our criminal justice department, we have saved £1.6 million a year; we employ far fewer people. One of the reasons that we can do that is much better use of mobile technology, including electronic witness statements.

Q42 Ian Swales: You have spent a lot on business change, but you would ascribe only a small part of that expenditure to the mobile technology itself. You have spent a lot on changing your business model.

Alex Marshall: Yes.

Q43 Ian Swales: That is probably the lesson out of this.

Chair: That is interesting. Jackie and Meg and then we will close this bit of the Committee session.

Q44 Jackie Doyle-Price: Just a quick question. Coming back to this issue of collaboration, I am interested in how you share best practice with other forces. Ms Beaton, from the coalface in my force, which is Essex, next door, they look with envy on the way that you rolled out your PVAs, so that is an endorsement from the police service as well. Have you shared your approach to this with Essex police or any other force?

Ailsa Beaton: As an example of how we work with each other, I chair the information management business area of ACPO, and that has representatives from each of the regions around the country. We get together four or five times a year to talk on subjects of interest to us. Certainly, mobility has been on the agenda, as has the Policing Activity Glossary, the ISIS strategy and the like. That is an opportunity for us to meet and talk. Following on from that, there are also sub-groups and workshops. We use an intranet information-sharing service called Polka that the NPIA produces that allows us to share best practice, so both electronically and in person we get a chance to talk with each other about what we are doing and talk as a group about what we want from a capability such as information technology.

Q45 Jackie Doyle-Price: ACPO is a vehicle for that rather than bilateral discussion?

Ailsa Beaton: Yes.

Alex Marshall: Essex has been speaking to Hampshire and now Essex has decided to go down the same mobile data solution as us, so they are taking exactly the same route.

Jackie Doyle-Price: That’s encouraging.

Chair: Meg and then Stuart and then I will bring this bit to an end.

Q46 Meg Hillier: You talk about changing the way that people use these things, and to follow on from Ian’s questions, is that now built into the training of a new recruit at training college? Do they start learning then how to use mobile technology? Is it so embedded now in your forces?

Bill Malloy: In Wiltshire, it certainly is. Everybody receives training on the mobile devices.

Alex Marshall: Yes, but the speed of development means that we are constantly retraining people. My deputy chief constable has recently done a video for the entire force to talk about the current ways of using mobile data. Perhaps Twitter is a very good example. We now have 60 of our neighbourhood teams tweeting to 60,000 local people. A year ago, none of them were doing that, and that has formed part of a different way of working and a different way of engaging with local people.

Q47 Meg Hillier: Is it in part of the training of the Met?

Ailsa Beaton: We only have 3,700 devices, so there are particular units that have devices rather than their being deployed to the whole force. Certainly, in the Traffic OCU, all the officers have mobile devices and would get the training. Such training is not a matter of course for recruits because they may or may not go to an OCU that has mobile devices.

Q48 Meg Hillier: Can we wind back to 2007? Were any of you using anything when the Home Office put this money up to buy devices? Were any of your forces active in mobile technology at that point?

Ailsa Beaton: Certainly, we were in the process of putting in place a new mobile platform. We had mobile data terminals for cars being rolled out, and the money allowed us to give PDAs to officers, as well as building on the platform for vehicle-borne devices.

Q49 Meg Hillier: So, basically, you bought more of what you were already beginning to buy?

Ailsa Beaton: Yes.

Alex Marshall: It pre-dates my time as chief constable. I was somewhere else, and they were doing very well on mobile data at the time. I think by 2008 Hampshire was ready to take on mobile data. We were doing less of it before that.

Bill Malloy: The first year of this funding was the year that we brought the PDAs into Wiltshire.

Q50 Meg Hillier: So, basically, it enabled you to do what you were already doing a bit quicker? There were only 10,000 across the whole country, so it is not many.

Bill Malloy: Yes.

Q51 Meg Hillier: How many did you each get from Home Office funding?

Alex Marshall: Three hundred devices.

Q52 Meg Hillier: Across how many officers?

Alex Marshall: Some 3,600.

Bill Malloy: We had 1,100 devices.

Ailsa Beaton: I think we got 3,7001. Sorry, I do not have this bit of information, so it might have been slightly smaller.

Meg Hillier: Of the 10,000, you represent a bit more than 7,000 if I can do my maths, so there wasn’t much left for everyone else. That is not a judgment.

Q53 Mr Jackson: Did you disaggregate this technology to basic command units, or was it common across the whole force, particularly in the Met?

Ailsa Beaton: It is the same device, no matter where you work in the Met.

Q54 Mr Jackson: In all the boroughs?

Ailsa Beaton: Yes.

Q55 Mr Jackson: You will be aware that your colleagues in the fire service have worked within the confines of the national fire service framework, which is a means to develop a regime of collaboration. Is there anything analogous in the police service? I am a bit puzzled that for four years you insisted that you could not force people to collaborate and co-operate on these issues, but I wonder whether the imperative to collaborate was stopped because of legislation, lack of leadership or because the police authorities had no incentive to collaborate at that stage on the technology. Why did 80% choose not to meet the optimum standard? Perhaps you could speculate on that.

Ailsa Beaton: I am not sure about this specific project, but I would say that there is increasing collaboration in the police service, whether it is forces working with other forces to share IT departments, as they have in Hampshire, or procurement frameworks being put in place that all forces could use.

Chair: But in this case only five forces went for it.

Q56 Mr Jackson: I am trying to get to the nub of the issue. Why have some availed themselves of these opportunities, such as the A-graders here, and the other 80% have not? I am trying to understand why that would be the case.

Ailsa Beaton: I am sorry, but I do not know.

Alex Marshall: I am not sure I fully understand the question. Increasingly, police forces are required to follow a procurement route. For example, for body armour and, increasingly, for police vehicles and various other things, you are very much limited to buying from one, two or three choices prescribed nationally. That is definitely the direction we have moved in recent years. I think the whole IT picture is a slightly different story because of the history I spoke about before, but even the IT picture is coming more closely together. Hampshire and Thames Valley are certainly not the only places where there is one IT department shared between forces, which is a growing way of operating.

Chair: Thank you all very much indeed. That was really helpful and gave us a slightly more positive picture than the report did, so thank you.

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Dame Helen Ghosh, Permanent Secretary, Home Office, Stephen Rimmer, Director-General, Crime and Policing Group, Home Office, and Nick Gargan, Chief Executive, National Policing Improvement Agency, gave evidence.

Q57 Chair: Welcome. The previous session was rather more positive than I was expecting. In terms of the past and going forward, Dame Helen, who is accountable for securing the efficiency savings that we obviously all want and the effectiveness in the deployment of IT in our 43 police authorities?

Dame Helen Ghosh: I will talk about the programme, and then there are some interesting themes that came out of that discussion about the position going forward. The mobile information programme had, as you said, Chairman, a very clear objective: to get mobile devices out and to catalyse activity, which was already going on in a number of forces, essentially in order to get more visible policing out there on the streets. Clearly, in that instance, we were accountable for achieving that outcome. That was our programme. There are some underlying issues that members of the Committee picked up-this is historical, as well as current and going forward-about the operational independence of the 43 forces. Obviously Parliament, over a long period of time, has considered other options over the years. Essentially it has come back to the idea that the forces you represent in your constituencies should be independent, with independent governance.

Therefore, the role of the Home Office, historically, has been one of doing the things it can do to maximise the VFM of any spend by police forces but without dictating to them what they should do. So in the case of this programme we were, as I say, in some senses riding the wave of activity that was already going on in forces, and that is why the first phase of the programme was to people who already had something going on, which the previous speakers described, and were trying to make it happen. As you said-I imagine you will want to come back to explore this-we had some element in our acceleration programme of common devices, but for various reasons to do with costs and numbers and so on, which Nick Gargan from NPIA will know more about historically, we had few people taking up that option. So broadly, they bought what they wanted to buy.

Our programme was not about how they should then do their business change. Again, Members asked a number of questions about the role of the Home Office now and going forward. We believe that, in the form of the NPIA, we have had and will continue to have a very important role in setting central standards. I thought the chief constable was interesting on this. He said something like, "Broadly speaking we do it right, but we need to do it better."

Q58 Mr Bacon: He said you needed to be stricter.

Chair: Harder.

Mr Bacon: Something I can’t imagine you having any difficulty with, Dame Helen.

Dame Helen Ghosh: I look forward to this.

In the future we will continue to set standards and in the new world those will rest with the new police body, which will be the leadership body for the police service. So we will continue to do that.

Q59 Mr Bacon: Do you mean NewCo?

Dame Helen Ghosh: No-the Police Professional Body. For a moment I could not remember what the second "P" stood for.

Q60 Fiona Mactaggart: That is the new NPIA?

Dame Helen Ghosh: Stephen will describe it.

Stephen Rimmer: I will try to do the short version as this is part of the whole architecture of the new landscape for Ministers, which is based on a considerable shift in thinking around accountability from the time when this programme was running, as Members will be aware. The two key national components are the Police Professional Body, which will set the professional standards of the service and will be owned by police chiefs and-

Q61 Fiona Mactaggart: Is that the new ACPO? I am sorry to be stupid, but we need to understand the history. Is that effectively the new ACPO?

Stephen Rimmer: The reason I am not answering yes or no is that it is a combination of existing capabilities, some of which are within NPIA, as you rightly say, and some of which are in ACPO. Ministers would say that it is not a squashing of existing functions, but that it is a new body with a different set of accountabilities from either the NPIA, which was ultimately a non-departmental public body-the professional body will not be, as it will ultimately be placed on a statutory basis-or ACPO, because it is not simply a membership body of chief officers. It will, however, set the standards, and, in terms of data and national security issues around IT, it will be the body that will, as and when required, say to the Home Office and to the Government that more mandation or consistency is needed on x or y.

Q62 Chair: The Report says: "The Department now mandates forces"-which is a bit different from setting standards-"to use central procurement for some standard ICT hardware and off-the-shelf software." Going forward, I am interested in whether you will carry on mandating, how you will decide what to mandate, and what will change.

Dame Helen Ghosh: I think it is true to say that we are in a transitional phase at the moment, and, faced with the reductions in spend and improvements in efficiency that police forces will need to achieve, we have taken a number of commodities on the procurement side-not IT systems procurement, as it happens- and mandated the use of a framework. For example, the first phase was vehicles and body armour and some off-the-shelf software. We are currently consulting on going out to some other areas such as mobile telephony-whether it is Vodafone or Orange and that kind of thing-and consultancy. By the end of the year, we will have what Mr Vaz would describe as the "Amazon catalogue" of any mainstream items that police may want to buy.

Q63 Chair: And they have to buy from your catalogue.

Dame Helen Ghosh: They will have to buy it from our framework. It is rather like the system that the Cabinet Office operates for Government Departments. This is, in a sense, transitional. I am sure that when forces see that these commodities can be bought more cheaply, they will naturally do it anyway, but we will get good data as to whether or not they do.

Going forward-the previous speakers brought this out very strongly-both the pressure of budgets and the increasing move towards joint operations and interoperability mean that more and more collaboration is already happening. In the longer term, I suspect it will drive people to aggregating purchase. As we already know, it is driving towards aggregating back-office services across a number of forces. In the future, we would see the Home Office role as having to step in to mandate what people do only in extreme circumstances. Recently, we did mandate in relation to the air support service. That happened to be an instance where one particular police authority was holding out, but all the others wanted to move to a single system. Indeed, Alex Marshall was a key driver in that. Just to get the thing going, the Home Office had to step in and say, "Right. That is what is going to happen." That is how we would expect the future to look.

Q64 Chair: I understand that. Will NewCo therefore be charged with getting some sort of convergence in systems, so that you can get all these things talking to each other, in the way that ISIS has? Am I getting this wrong?

Dame Helen Ghosh: No. On the hierarchy of stuff, there are, as Alex Marshall brought out very strongly, some systems that are bound to remain national systems in which the Home Office will continue to take a very close interest, because they are in the national interest-Airwave, PNC, PND, or the HOLMES system.

The purpose of NewCo-the IT company-is to give forces or PCCs a vehicle by which they can respond to local IT needs in an aggregated way. It is a professional company that can do collective procurement. If three or four forces decide at the same time that they want to have a particular control system, they will be able to go to this company to procure it and get the value out of that. The company will be able to advise forces on current IT developments and so on. It will be operating within the standards set by the police professional body, so those will be the standards that everybody has to buy to. Essentially, NewCo is about maximising the buying power of forces for local solutions. They may run the contracts, and indeed they may run the procurements for some of the national systems, but we as the Home Office will still take an interest in the national system.

Q65 Chair: I have got three quick questions on NewCo. The history of this shows that those sorts of organisations fail. First, why should NewCo succeed where the previous ones did not? Secondly, NewCo will be, as I understand it, a private entity. How is the accountability going to work? Are we going to have another LOCOG, whereby this Committee will not be able to see and check the accountability? Thirdly, I have seen some criticism of the way NewCo has been set up, in that there are added costs associated with it. You are just giving money to the Treasury, because, given that NewCo is in the private sector, it has to pay VAT. You can tell me whether that is wrong.

Dame Helen Ghosh: No, I can disabuse you of that.

Q66 Chair: Okay. That is what I have picked up. So there are three things: why should this work; how is it going to be accountable; and is it actually going to be more expensive?

Dame Helen Ghosh: I will hand over to Nick, because I think it is easy to get confused between the element of the acceleration package in this programme and how NewCo would operate. There are some very particular reasons why people did not take up the acceleration package. We will shortly be putting out an overview of how NewCo will operate, so we are working on that. Clearly, the fact that PCC elections have slipped from May to November means that we have now to think about interim ownership options, which we did not have to think about before when the Home Secretary announced that we would be setting up this company in spring or summer this year. We are thinking those through, and we will be coming out as soon as possible with an overview of how it will work, because we want to engage all the relevant stakeholders in that. I will come back to that point.

Q67 Chair: Before we go to Nick, can you answer the question about accountability? Will we be able to follow the taxpayer’s pound? It is my usual question.

Stephen Rimmer: Yes. On your point, Chair, about why it will work, Ministers believe it is fundamentally very different from its predecessors-the NPIA model and before that, as many of you will know, the Police Information Technology Organisation-and the key difference for Ministers is that it is not a centrally funded body. It may have a small amount of start-up, but the funding that will determine the reach and the impact of NewCo will be determined by PCCs and the resources to when they commit.

Q68 Mr Bacon: Sorry, I feel I ought to state for the record that Mr Rimmer and I have known each other since we started in the same class on the same day at the same school 42 years ago.

Chair: Is it as long ago as that?

Mr Bacon: For these purposes, however, I am going to call him Mr Rimmer. Can I just be clear that you are saying, therefore, that the success of NewCo will depend on demand from PCCs?

Stephen Rimmer: Absolutely.

Q69 Mr Bacon: That is exactly what they said about OGC buying solutions. That is exactly the problem with NHS supply. When you go the other way and mandate it-as in the national programme for IT in the health service-it turns out that the moment the foundation trusts have the autonomy not to take part, they do not. When they do, they are forced to implement things that are more expensive and out of date. How are you going to get round all those problems? They happen again and again in lots of different areas.

Stephen Rimmer: Absolutely. There is a definitely a rock-and-a-hard-place set of risks that we are aware of and that Ministers are very exercised about. They are very keen not to put too much expectation on NewCo from day one. When it is launched, it will not be "big bang" in terms of every force being expected to buy into it from the first day; it will develop with the leadership capability it has, which will clearly be critical to its success. As it develops relationships with, and services to, PCCs and forces, Ministers believe that other PCCs and forces-which will all be very strapped for cash, for obvious reasons-will get a much stronger and more tangible sense, in the way Dame Helen described, of what services they can get from NewCo by way of collaboration, without there being a "You must buy into every single product or service" approach, and on terms that make sense to local priorities..

Q70 Chair: Can we hold it to account? Can you just say yes or no to that?

Dame Helen Ghosh: They will be using the money we give them through our normal police funding and their precept. So the rules that apply to their choices-the choices that PCCs and constables make-are subject to exactly the same accountability by which you would hold me to account that we have discussed under the system statement model. It is just a vehicle through which they spend the money we will give to them as their police grant. We will be able to say to them, "Why did you choose, for example, not to use NewCo for that procurement?" or "Why did you choose to use NewCo?" The VFM challenge is exactly the same in that context. It is not different from the mainstream.

Q71 Mr Bacon: Are not suppliers rather good at working their way round this? The answer they will give is, "The supplier gave us a significantly better price on that particular aspect than we could have got through going through the central framework." We all know what happens later.

Dame Helen Ghosh: When the loss-leading contract collapses.

Q72 Mr Bacon: Who is going to be NewCo? DHL got the contract for an NHS supplier. I think that it was a 10-year contract. Are you going to let a contract in the same sort of way?

Dame Helen Ghosh: No. We will set up a company that will, in fact, technically speaking be a public corporation-if I recall correctly from the legal advice that I have-and people choose to become the owners.

Q73 Mr Bacon: It’s a mutual.

Dame Helen Ghosh: It is-a sort of mutual.

Q74 Chair: Does it pay VAT?

Dame Helen Ghosh: It is not handed over. In fact, I believe-but I do not wish to pre-announce Treasury decisions-that it has agreed that it does not pay VAT. Because of its particular status, VAT is not an issue. We are not giving it to a supplier, and then they supply services. We are not selling it to a supplier, and then they supply services. It is owned by the PCCs, and the Home Office will be one of the owners because we will clearly have an interest, for example, if they are running PNC on our behalf. We will just be one customer, among a number. It will probably start with a smaller number of owners and build up over time. As Stephen said, in a sense its success rests on its success. It should be a snowball that rolls.

Q75 Chair: I want to go to Stephen Barclay, but I am really conscious that I have not given Nick the chance. Can we do that, and then Stephen, Ian and Fiona?

Nick Gargan: The accelerator package was not as successful as it might have been, in part because too few forces opted in to it. Many of them had their own legacy systems that would have made it as difficult and as expensive to go to the accelerator package as it would have been to have something that they could arrange locally with the supplier who they knew and trusted, because you are plugging in generic PDAs and BlackBerrys into historic legacy systems in force. You start where you start, and that is where forces started. On the back of that, there were some problems with the suppliers who forces would say let a couple of forces down, and that damaged the framework reputationally. From thereon in, other propositions took over.

Q76 Chair: Do you have to pay Cable and Wireless and Airwave anything?

Nick Gargan: They will have received income, yes.

Q77 Chair: You had to pay them-penalties, in that they were not used.

Nick Gargan: No.

Q78 Chair: No penalties?

Nick Gargan: Not as far as I am aware. What they ended up doing, particularly Cable and Wireless, was renegotiating and lowering their threshold for how many devices would have made this deal viable.

Q79 Chair: But you never reached their threshold, as I read the report.

Nick Gargan: No, the threshold kept coming down to meet us. But I am sure that there were no penalties.

Q80 Chair: No penalties with Airwave?

Nick Gargan: No.

Q81 Stephen Barclay: Can I clarify your opening comment, Dame Helen? Was I understanding correctly when you said that the reason for the difference in performance with four fifths failing to identify efficiencies, was because of the operation on independence of the forces?

Dame Helen Ghosh: I was saying that what the programme set out to do was not to design a business process and to give people the mobile devices; it was to give people the mobile devices to act as the catalyst for change. A number of the forces-in fact, all the forces in the first phase-were already doing something. We made assumptions that our business case rested on the visibility of policing and the visibility of policing having an impact on crime.

Q82 Stephen Barclay: Was the business case met by simply distributing the devices?

Dame Helen Ghosh: No. The justification for the activity was that more visible policing would bring down crime. So when we thought about the value for money justification of this, which actually we believe was met, then the reduction in crime and the increase in visible policing was the business case on which it rested.

Q83 Stephen Barclay: Okay. I am slightly confused by that answer. I am trying to understand-

Dame Helen Ghosh: Mobile devices would have been a tool for achieving that.

Q84 Stephen Barclay: You have said that what you did was distribute the devices, and you hit that target-

Dame Helen Ghosh: Exactly.

Q85 Stephen Barclay: -but the forces did not deliver the efficiencies that one would expect from that. The money for this came from the Home Office, for which you are the accounting officer.

Dame Helen Ghosh: Yes.

Q86 Stephen Barclay: By what date did you become aware that the devices were not delivering efficiencies in the forces that you had distributed them to?

Dame Helen Ghosh: This comes back to the NPIA evaluation. Can I pick you up on the point that the programme has not succeeded in improving efficiency? Cashable savings of something like £500 million are quoted in the report. At the snapshot moment when the report was written, forces were on a journey of improving their efficiency and processes and, clearly, that continues. The point is that this was a catalyst. It was not supposed to be the complete answer to mobile information applied to business process; it was the thing to get the system going.

Q87 Stephen Barclay: With respect, you are not answering. My question was by what date? Did you become aware of this when the NAO produced its report or, as the accounting officer, did you say, "Well, I am aware that these devices are not delivering efficiencies, but that’s outside the business case. I have met my duties on value for money without forces delivering efficiencies"? It is unclear. If I understand correctly, you are saying that the business case was predicated not just on distribution, but on those driving efficiencies. You have not told us when you became aware that four fifths of forces were not achieving the purpose for which the devices circulated.

Dame Helen Ghosh: As the Chairman said, the NPIA carried out a number of evaluations of what use forces were making of mobile information equipment. I shall ask Nick to talk about that.

To go back, the value of the programme was £80 million, and by, I think, March 2010 we knew that forces had achieved £500 million of cashable savings. That sounds to me like quite a good return on the investment. What did our four phases of evaluation show?

Nick Gargan: First, before the device was released to a force, the NPIA needed to see evidence of commitment under a number of headings. There had to be endorsement by chief officers and police authority, a commitment to benefits realisation, a link to operational focus and the objectives of the force and we needed to have confidence that forces would deliver on time. The criteria were there, and all those were met.

We were living in the time of Ronnie Flanagan’s report on bureaucracy. We were not talking about things that we now value and discuss, like accruing slivers of time and turning them into cashable savings. The exam question has changed over a period of time. It is also worth noting that, as we have acknowledged, the findings relate to a survey to which 32 forces responded. Of those, only two thirds supplied useful data. Because of their commitment to benefits realisation, individual forces-nearly all-have produced their own accounts of their savings, which paint a rather different picture. I think that explains why the first session of this hearing has produced a more positive picture than one gets from reading the report.

Q88 Stephen Barclay: But has the exam question changed? Your 2008-09 annual report refers to this technology. It states that the NPIA is "developing a range of national support services to help forces take full advantage of the new technology and its capabilities." How have you taken full advantage of the technology when, several years later, the NAO comes back and tells the Committee that four fifths of forces have not used it to improve efficiencies or operational processes? Surely there is an inconsistency between what you said in your 2008-09 annual report and what the NAO is telling the Committee today.

Nick Gargan: My point in relation to individual forces is that if you asked 43 chief constables today, "Are you using technology as a means of transforming your business?" you would get a very different answer. At a local level, forces could each produce-

Q89 Stephen Barclay: Of course-that is motherhood and apple pie. I am saying that your annual report stated that you, the national body, were developing a range of national support services. Have those support services worked, bearing in mind that we have a report from the NAO that states that four fifths of forces have failed to identify efficiencies and operational processes as a result of the technologies? Surely there is an inconsistency between those two statements.

Nick Gargan: Part of that is that that was a prediction by the agency, and one of the things that have been a limitation to the agency is the extent to which it can pull levers and influence behaviour in forces-

Q90 Stephen Barclay: So it is a prediction that was not met. Are you accepting that the prediction in that report was not met?

Nick Gargan: I think that in part it was not met, and in parts this report provides a partial snapshot.

Q91 Chair: Did you sign off this report? Did you agree the report as a Department?

Dame Helen Ghosh: Yes.

Q92 Chair: I am very muddled on the facts.

Aileen Murphie: I want to clarify the savings point. In paragraph 3.22, we break down some of the savings that were given in the survey returns, and they amount to £600,000 from this particular programme.

Q93 Stephen Barclay: So you said £500 million, and the NAO is telling us how much?

Aileen Murphie: In paragraph 3.22 it is £600,000.

Q94 Mr Bacon: There is a difference here-

Dame Helen Ghosh: Yes, there is. It may be that I was quoting what the ultimate impact of the business change is expected to be, but I am happy to give the Committee a note.

Amyas Morse: I want to make it clear that I have listened to and welcome the police’s understanding that they need to use technology to change. We are not saying that we do not realise that, but we are saying that how this started did not strike us as a particularly happy start, to be quite frank. We need to be clear, and we set out in paragraph 2.2 what the stated aims of the programme were. The aims were not just to put machines in the hands of police officers, I am sorry to say. They are itemised there in paragraph 2.2, so it is a bit more than that. It is not incompetent for us to ask whether this actually had the effect of encouraging business change. The witnesses we had in the first round, who we put forward in a suggested list, were people we knew had made a success of applying this-you listened to them-and their prudent application is already up and running. I agree, and I think the idea of prioritising them to the extent that we have was a good idea. However, that does not invalidate our comments about the majority who did not do that.

Q95 Chair: Do you agree with that?

Dame Helen Ghosh: It does not invalidate the comment that some people did not take the right advantage of it. The question I am pondering in response to the Member’s question is, "But what was the alternative?" I think that is the interesting question in terms of learning lessons for the future. We could have asked the question, "Before we give you a mobile device, will you prove how you will use it?" I am wondering whether, under those circumstances, that was a viable thing we could have done.

Q96 Stephen Barclay: With respect, that is not the point. The point is that, as Amyas Morse, the Comptroller and Auditor General, has just highlighted, paragraph 2.2 of the report sets out the original business case objectives.

Dame Helen Ghosh: Yes.

Q97 Stephen Barclay: The implication of your opening statement to this Committee was, "We achieved our objectives through distributing devices, not through driving efficiencies. We could not drive the efficiencies because of the independence of forces." What the Comptroller and Auditor General is highlighting is that the original objectives set out in paragraph 2.2 were much broader than what you are saying today. It is that tension that is being highlighted, and, with respect, that is what you are not addressing.

Dame Helen Ghosh: What I said in my opening remarks was that the objective of distributing the mobile devices was to act as a catalyst for change. Ministers believed at the time that it would improve the visibility of police, improve efficiency and make people think about their business processes with a view to greater efficiency and a greater impact on crime. The purpose of the programme was to distribute the devices in the belief that the change would happen. I think the stories you were told by the first set of witnesses were that the change did happen and did act as a catalyst. The change may not have acted as a catalyst universally and in each force, but if you consider the counterfactual, if we had done nothing, would we be in as good a place as we are today? That is the alternative-that we would say, "Until we can be sure that they have designed their business process, we are not going to give them any money." I suspect that police forces and even this Committee might say that letting the best be the enemy of the good is not the right approach in those circumstances.

Stephen Barclay: The final thing is that the effect is not your test as an accounting officer. Your test is not, "Did the money I distribute have an effect?" One would hope that, if you distribute £80 million, it would have some effect. The test for the accounting officer, as I understand it, is "Did you achieve value for money?" That is a different test from the fact that, as you have just said, "Well, we distributed the devices, and they had an effect." Of course they had an effect-£80 million will have an effect.

I come back to the question about the date when you were first notified-I did not get a date from you. The NAO is now saying that efficiencies were not being driven. You have a responsibility, as the accounting officer, to be getting data to satisfy yourself that you are achieving value for money on the sums that you are distributing.

Dame Helen Ghosh: Let us think of the timetable. All this money had been spent by 2008-09 two or three years ago. There was not a programme for me to be testing, and therefore there is no date. Nobody came to me in the first year of my holding this office to say, "Do you know whether or not that programme, which closed two years ago, was value for money?"

Q98 Stephen Barclay: You are representing your predecessor as well. You cannot just say, "I came along more recently". You are here to answer for the Department.

Dame Helen Ghosh: No. I would be surprised if any permanent secretary comes into their Department and looks at every historical programme, to see whether a programme which is now closed had been value for money. The first that I was aware of the programme was when I heard that the NAO was doing a Report. I stand on the point that at the time and in the circumstances, it was the right thing to do.

One can, and we could argue-I am very happy to write to the Committee on this-that it catalysed action. It certainly proved that spending £71 million on these devices, and £80 million in total, was value for money in terms of acting as a catalyst and encouraging people to change business processes, which has led to significant savings. I would be very happy to write to the Committee on that basis, but there was not a point where I suddenly started worrying about this programme that had stopped. Why would I do that?

Nick Gargan: Chair, may I say one thing about the five points, which the Committee’s attention has been drawn to, in paragraph 2.2? The performance against those five points has actually been pretty good. The first point says that the agency needs to "Deliver the Government’s commitment to equip front-line police officers with…devices." It is commonly accepted that that happened. The second says that there should be "a robust framework for…forces to apply for investment", and I have described some of the criteria. There are more, but I have not heard that questioned. The third is that we should "Create a common procurement contract". That was created, albeit the take-up was low, because of the limitations that we have already discussed.

The fourth was to "Encourage business change", and quite a lot of the £9 million central cost, which was referred to earlier, went on that activity. But at the centre, "encourage" is all you can do. Because we switched off the benefits measurement shortly after the election, as cuts were being made at the centre, the business change measurement ceased but the business change activity in forces did not. It has continued ever since, and that is one of the reasons for the mismatch between what forces would claim about the savings they have made and about the efficiencies and the transformation they have achieved, and what is measured at the centre, simply because we have stopped measuring it.

The fifth one is a complete surprise to me: "a mobile device, which can use both commercial mobile networks and the…‘Tetra’ network." I have been in the agency for two years, and I have never heard of that before, so I presume-

Q99 Chair: I have to say to you guys that you sign these reports off. If there is an issue that is a mistaken fact, like that one, you have signed it off. The other thing to say to you is that Stephen makes a really important point, from the point of view of the Committee, in that you are here to answer for accountability on value for money both in your time and that of your predecessor. I am trying to think who your predecessor was.

Dame Helen Ghosh: David Normington.

Q100 Chair: We will call him back if you like, but on the whole retired permanent secretaries do not like it.

Dame Helen Ghosh: I hasten to add, Chair, that-as you know, because I have been the subject of this-I am not arguing I should not be here to answer about this programme; I am simply answering the specific question. The specific question is: was I worrying about this programme? No, I was worrying, after I arrived, about ongoing programmes, whether they were value for money and my management of those programmes.

Q101 Chair: Okay. I have a list of people, but I will greedily ask Aileen one question. If they met all those points, bar one that they do not seem to know about, why did you decide that it was not value for money?

Aileen Murphie: The value for money proposition is based on the amount of benefits that came back for the particular investment in the programme. They invested £80 million and they got devices out to everybody, but it was about visibility and extra time on the shift. There is a basic level there-18 minutes on average. You would expect that then to go on and deliver cashable savings. So that is what we went on and measured, as far as we could, through the survey of forces giving us back data we could use. So that is how that has built up. That is why we have said in the money conclusion that this programme has not maximised value for money, as yet.

Dame Helen Ghosh: Having promised a fuller reply to the Committee, we would argue that it is not just cashable savings.

Aileen Murphie: No. But references are made to-

Dame Helen Ghosh: Yes, but there are other elements lying behind this that are beyond cashable savings. But I am happy to summarise those.

Chair: Well, write to us. I really have a list: Jackie, Ian, Fiona, Richard, Austin, Meg.

Q102 Jackie Doyle-Price: There seems to be something missing in how you approach this. Recognising that you have to deal with independent police forces, and that you have said that we have this pot of money to deliver these outputs, we heard some very inspirational things from previous witnesses about they have embraced this as an opportunity to change. However, we also know that a good proportion of police services have not embraced that potential. Given that the independence of forces will be enhanced with police commissioners, don’t you think that if you were to approach a programme like this in future, you should have some additional criteria in terms of allocating against these bids for embracing that, because otherwise you are just writing cheques and dishing out the output without achieving anything?

Dame Helen Ghosh: I certainly think that is well worth considering. The one thing we would not want to do, given, as you say, the future landscape and the role of PCCs, is to prescribe processes. What we would want to do-this fits very well with the debate I have had with this Committee before about system statements-is to get complete transparency about what was the value-for-money impact and the choices that forces-PCCs-made to use the money. That is the area we would want to focus on.

Q103 Jackie Doyle-Price: But it is about outcomes rather than outputs. Would you acknowledge that this has really been very much about outputs?

Dame Helen Ghosh: Yes, because this does not talk, for example, about what was the impact of greater visibility, and of the policeman not going back to the station to fill in his forms or write up a witness statement, but sitting in his vehicle in a hot spot of crime. That very visibility may well have an impact on crime, but that is not captured in any of this material.

Q104 Jackie Doyle-Price: So would you be surprised to know that two weeks ago, when I went out on patrol with my police officers, they were using a paper A to Z to find out where they were going, and they had to go back to the station to fill in forms to record the incidents we had been to? Would that surprise you, given this programme?

Dame Helen Ghosh: I think I will turn to Nick, who is much more of an expert. Because I have seen the best-I was out with Hampshire police a couple of weeks ago-it sort of would surprise me, because I saw one of these A* police forces doing it. They had the complete kit in the car. They could identify the driver and the fact that he had no insurance. They could instantaneously check up all those things, including with the ABI, and they could get his car on the back of a pick-up truck within half an hour, saving days and days and days. That is what good looks like.

Nick Gargan: Did you mention Essex police?

Jackie Doyle-Price: Yes

Nick Gargan: They have had 3,000 devices. There is an inspector-

Q105 Jackie Doyle-Price: So where have they gone? My police officers are saying, "Why aren’t we like the Met? Why don’t we have PDAs?"

Nick Gargan: There is a guy in Essex police who tweets to me a lot and is very enthusiastic about how he uses this. He describes what officers take out with them, the great savings and efficiencies that he perceives, and the way his day-to-day life has been made easier as a result. But he is an aficionado and an enthusiast. I have also worked with officers-

Q106 Jackie Doyle-Price: Oh no. They said they wanted them.

Nick Gargan: There are, no doubt, those who want them who cannot get them. I would imagine that they are relatively few in number, particularly in a force like Essex, but they will probably have been prioritised to certain categories of officers-

Q107 Jackie Doyle-Price: Hang on. This is the patrol cars. These are the people who really do need them. They are out and about doing the night shift. They are the ones who will benefit most. What they said was, "Why can’t we be like the Met? They’ve got these PDAs."

Nick Gargan: I can’t account for that because the guy from Essex who tweets me tells me that all his team-and certainly all the neighbourhood teams, in addition-are equipped with the equipment. This is an ongoing process. There will be pockets. There will be areas that have not been reached yet.

Chair: I think you should do a written answer to this issue. If there are 3,000 of these things-

Q108 Jackie Doyle-Price: Where are they? If he is tweeting to you, they are not doing the job they are there for.

Dame Helen Ghosh: Sorry, but can I just comment on that? Why would we answer the question? Why doesn’t the Essex police authority answer the question? I don’t think that is a question for us.

Q109 Jackie Doyle-Price: My question was, "Are you surprised to hear this?" Your answer was yes.

Dame Helen Ghosh: No, I said, "Only because I have seen the best."

Chair: We would be interested in knowing that they had not been nicked-or stolen-and therefore we would ask you, on a system-wide basis, to ensure that.

Q110 Mr Bacon: Who paid for them, Dame Helen?

Dame Helen Ghosh: We have paid for some of them, but as the previous speakers have said-

Chair: It is an interesting thing. If you want to engage in correspondence, we will, but this comes out of a programme that we paid for.

Meg Hillier: Essex got 100% of the money it bid for in phase 1.

Q111 Stephen Barclay: There was a reference to 3,000 in Essex. I think an earlier witness said that, in the Met, there are 3,500. Why has Essex got 3,000, but the Met has just 3,500?

Nick Gargan: It is a combination of what people applied for and how the criteria were applied. We make no bones about the fact that at the time when the programme began, a higher priority, particularly in phase 1, was given to those forces that could give confidence that the devices could hit the streets quickly.

Q112 Stephen Barclay: So what is it as a percentage in the Met compared with Essex?

Dame Helen Ghosh: It’s 34% in the Met-sorry, this was against what they applied for. The Met got 34%.

Q113 Stephen Barclay: No, compared to officers. There are 3,000 devices in Essex. I do not know what the force number is in Essex, but I imagine it is a fraction of what it is in the Met, and there are 3,500 devices in the Met. It just seems a massive differential.

Nick Gargan: It is a differential. I was in Thames Valley at the time and I was rolling out neighbourhood policing. This windfall opportunity to do what we were doing but more quickly came along, and we were treated very well because we had a mature, existing programme that allowed us to crack on, so our percentage would have been good. I guess the same applies to Essex. I think it is a force of about 4,000 to 5,000 officers. The Met is a force where-I think Ailsa said one in six officers have the devices.

Stephen Barclay: So what are the best and worst as a percentage?

Chair: I have to go to Ian now, but we do want a letter from you.

Q114 Ian Swales: There is a theme emerging from the Committee about, perhaps, dissatisfaction with the patchiness of all this. Figure 8 captures the debate that we have just been having. I appreciate that the data are a few months old now, but it says that forces such as West Mercia, and Devon and Cornwall, have no devices, whereas Bedfordshire has a barely believable 1.5 each. I guess the basic question is: how concerned you are at just how patchy this has been? There is a comment at the foot of paragraph 3.11 that "the programme assumed that forces would have the resources and knowledge to implement business change and process improvement." Clearly, what we seem to be getting from this hearing is that there was incredible variety in whether it was correct to assume that or not.

Nick Gargan: I want to deal with Bedfordshire, because the position does look odd. It is because a combination of police officers, police community support officers and police staff such as scenes of crime officers will have been given the devices. That takes you potentially-

Q115 Ian Swales: Non-uniformed staff, you mean?

Nick Gargan: Non-police officers. Also, Bedfordshire, I think, procured on behalf of the-

Q116 Ian Swales: Nevertheless, it is a massive variation. Ironically, Hampshire, which we have been hearing good things about, is down at 22%, although I appreciate that it may have moved a long way since then. My question is: how satisfied you are, as the national agency, the Home Office and so on, with just how variable this is?

Nick Gargan: I don’t think it’s for us to be satisfied or dissatisfied with forces, but what we do acknowledge is that individual chief constables prioritise activity in different ways. They have a lot on their plate-they aren’t just mobile data chief constables.

Q117 Chair: This is becoming a really interesting accountability issue. You, Dame Helen, are responsible for ensuring that the money is spent well. There is also a 20% cut in the budget. Across this Committee, we would like you to assure us that, as far as possible, the financial cuts affect back-office services, not front-line services. From what we read in the Report and the data that we get from the National Audit Office, 10% of police expenditure goes on IT. Therefore, the more you can eke out in efficiencies, the better. For you to distance yourself from any responsibility and accountability in demonstrating to us that you have done that is just not good enough. It happened a bit in that last answer, and it happened a bit in the answer to Jackie.

Dame Helen Ghosh: I absolutely can assure you, Chairman, that I am not for one moment saying that we are not interested in the value for money that forces achieve through their spend and through their programmes. That is precisely why we commissioned, and will continue to commission, from Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary a series of reports-a very particular series-on the value for money that is achieved by each force, and that will continue to happen into the future. The issue of what they spend on IT and on staff, the balance between front, middle and back-office staff, and the impact on crime numbers will be absolutely transparent information.

HMIC has done a couple of reports specifically on how each of these forces has responded to the challenge of reduced budgets and how ready they are. If you look at this, you can see a fascinating table on which forces have or have not, for example, embraced business change-that is seriously thought about their business change-and which forces have managed to maintain police officer numbers and which have not. We are profoundly interested in that, and that is why we have asked HMIC to do it.

The only point that Nick was making was that it is not for us to say in a particular instance, "We insist that the way you get your efficiency is by using technology in this kind of way." We would not question the "I have applied for 100; I would like x." That is not the thing that we question. What we are very interested in is the end result which is satisfactory for the taxpayer and the local tax payer.

Chair: So are we.

Q118 Ian Swales: It does come back to the five original aims. I know Mr Gargan cantered quickly through them, but let’s just look at some of the words: "Create a common procurement contract, called the ‘acceleration package’, to encourage the majority of forces to achieve convergence in ICT infrastructure and deliver economies of scale." The next one states, "Encourage business change, develop a framework to realise benefits". These are much more action-oriented than the kind of evidence that says, "We’ve put it out there. Let’s see what happens." That is the sense that is coming back from the witnesses. How do you square the levels of proactivity that, to me, were implicit in that with what has actually happened?

Nick Gargan: I think things have changed. Policy has changed. To take the ISIS programme that we have discussed, the language of that has evolved over the past few years. In part, there is an acknowledgment of the difficulty of trying to get everybody to move in concert at the same time. The role of the centre as a matter of policy has been diminished, and forces have been given increasing scope. There is an increasing expectation that the service will come together without the centre forcing it to collaborate, and will collaborate of its own accord.

Q119 Ian Swales: And you think that that is a valid assumption?

Dame Helen Ghosh: Yes. I think there is an increasingly greater level of collaboration at a number of levels. Nick was telling us a story yesterday. Imagine a criminal travelling up the M1. He moves through a number of forces with a number of different control systems. Those forces collaborate in such a way that the individual can just be handed on from one to another in a perfectly successful way.

Stephen Rimmer: Can I just make a general point about this discussion? For this Government, Ministers are very clear that three things are driving the value-for-money agenda. As Nick says, that has genuinely changed since this programme. One is the radical push towards local accountability so that the primary means of holding forces to account for VFM clearly and very much more explicitly than in police authorities rests with Police and Crime Commissioners. Indeed, some of that data are going public in a way that has never happened before. VFM data being directly accessible to the public on police.uk has never happened before. Ministers feel very strongly that that is a powerful push locally.

Nationally-this is what Nick Herbert would say is the paradox Policing reforms in contrast to the previous Government. This Government are moving a lot of power locally. Equally, they recognise-this is the point about collaboration-that insufficient emphasis was given to collaboration previously, hence the strong push, as Dame Helen said, around using legislative powers for the first time to mandate specific capabilities, starting with air support, and being much more frequent in mandating frameworks for collaborative procurement. Thirdly-I appreciate that this is an obvious point, but it is part of the Minister’s thinking-there is your point about 20%, Chair. That is changing behaviour in forces in a way that was generally not around in 2008-09. Linked to that, for the Home Secretary, is a sense that value for money, in terms of where you get to outcomes with that requirement around funding, is very much about crime reduction.

Dame Helen Ghosh: Yes.

Stephen Rimmer: You simplify the outcomes, declutter the requirements-if you like you de-bureaucratise them-with a very clear accountability that plays from national all the way through to PCCs.

Q120 Ian Swales: Can I just pick up one more specific point to draw the general out of it? Paragraph 3.20 says-we hear a lot about this enabling police to be more on the streets-that there is such a large variation in what is reported. One force says, barely believably, that officers are spending nearly two hours extra in police stations as a result of doing this. Whether or not that is right, it is pretty important that the NPIA understands it. The next paragraph goes on to talk about little measurement by the NPIA of the objectives to reduce bureaucracy and improve efficiency. How is the NPIA dealing with that kind of issue and what is it doing with that kind of information?

Nick Gargan: We have looked into it. It is based on a very small sample size. That relates to five shifts of 20 PCSOs in a particular force. I cannot see how, as a consequence of handing somebody a BlackBerry, you keep them in the police station for an extra two hours per shift, unless you say, "Here’s a BlackBerry and you are not allowed to take it out in case it gets stolen." It is just not going to happen. I accept that we should have picked that up earlier.

Q121 Ian Swales: But the following paragraph goes on to make the more general point about the measurement by the agency of what is actually going on. Do you feel that you have that role in order to fulfil your role, which I think is mentioned elsewhere in the Report, of sharing best practice and so on? Should we be doing better in the agency to gather information and to drive out the benefits of this?

Nick Gargan: The role of the agency in measuring anything has been diminishing ever since it was set up. It is more properly the role of the inspectorate of constabulary to measure forces. Certainly, through acquiring data and providing analysis, we can help forces. You have already heard of POLKA, the online knowledge area, as well as the many events that the agency runs for forces and the support we provide to ACPO’s business areas. We are constantly recycling knowledge and pursuing a dialogue with policing.

Q122 Ian Swales: Does the inspectorate have a specific remit in this roll-out of technology? As you said, it is its role to measure. What specific activities does it perform in order to judge forces against this agenda?

Nick Gargan: My point is a general one. It is the role of the inspectorate-

Q123 Ian Swales: But I am making a specific one. Is the inspectorate helping to measure what is going on against this change in the way policing is done? I would have thought that it was important. Is it doing it?

Nick Gargan: Yes, the inspectorate is playing a role in measuring transformation in the way that forces are responding to the challenges of the spending review. No, I do not think that the inspectorate had a specific role to play in relation to this programme, but of course this programme is simply a contributory part of that broader response to changing times.

Q124 Chair: I am going to Fiona, but can I make it absolutely clear that this Committee will want to know and be able to track, whatever accountability the Ministers want, the money spent and where it has gone-on administration or on the front line?

Dame Helen Ghosh: Yes.

Q125 Chair: We will be looking at the extent to which you as an organisation, with your 43 police services, have achieved backroom savings as opposed to front-line savings.

Dame Helen Ghosh: Absolutely, and we understand that through the process of system statement for the new world as well as for the current one.

Chair: Right.

Q126 Fiona Mactaggart: I think I am more optimistic than some of my colleagues about the success of the programme. If you look at figure 7, it is clear that there has been a transfer from central budgets to local budgets of mobile technology costs, and it seems to me that that is a reflection that forces have chosen to invest themselves and that they recognise the value of that. My problem is that I am not convinced that this national landscape-as you worked out from my earlier questions, I am not quite sure who is what in the national landscape-has learned the lessons from this programme that is in front of us. The biggest lesson that I saw and that was reinforced by our earlier witnesses was that there was not a clear enough central requirement established-I think that the chief constable said that he wanted it to be stricter-and people chose not to use the kind of procuring opportunities that existed in it. It seems that by setting up NewCo you have duplicated that problem-as far as I can see from your description, NewCo is basically a buyer-and you have not put enough emphasis, if you look at paragraph 3.25, figure 12, on mandating outcomes processes that ought to be shared so that you can improve the quality. I do not see the energy being put into that end of it, which seems to be how you are going to save money in the future.

Stephen Rimmer: It is a very good challenge. What will be key to NewCo’s success is its relationship with its primary customer-forces, chiefs and the interaction with PCCs. The process that we envisage happening, obviously in consultation with ACPO and others, is this: where those business imperatives develop around collaboration on particular IT and other capabilities that are-from the perspective of those who are trying to deliver those services-becoming a problem, through the Police Professional Body, which is the standard setting agency, they will formally refer that, in those cases, to the Government when they need something more centrally prescribed.

That is an important process because it starts from the customer base-in relation to IT, the relationship between NewCo and its centre of expertise, and with forces. It is not being dreamt up by suppliers, but equally it is not simply a process of chiefs who are busy doing other things. It then gets interrogated, if you like, by the Professional Standards Body. It then goes to Government and the Home Office to say, "The situation on this technology or that capability is not acceptable. We need you to do something, either in terms of very directive collaboration or mandation." The relationship between the Professional Body and the Home Office is one that Ministers will look at very seriously indeed.

That process is properly driven by the realities that forces are facing. In effect, when they say, "This is not collaborative enough. This is not driving out savings across the country. There is a lack of interoperability"-for example-"as a result," Ministers will take that very seriously. What Ministers are not looking to do with these new arrangements is to have, as it were, a top-down body that simply picks and chooses what those standards should be.

Q127 Fiona Mactaggart: I am absolutely not arguing for that. I think we have learned from the NHS that that is a really bad idea. However, you know better than many, Mr Rimmer, that what will happen in this process is that well-invested sales forces of very clever mobile technology companies are going to intervene-with, I suspect, more resources than NewCo-between the purchaser and the product. It is likely that they will determine, unless there is a very assertive centre, what is asked for.

Stephen Rimmer: That is very fair. The Home Secretary’s expectation of the leadership of NewCo is absolutely about mitigating that risk. She expects NewCo to be run by people who have the ability to deal extremely powerfully and confidently with those suppliers. There is a level of expertise, even within the Home Office, that we now have in financial and commercial capabilities, and some of that is being done in a way that we have never done before. Of course, there is also support from the Cabinet Office and the Francis Maude set of functions, which is playing out across the public sector in terms of supplier management.

From my perspective, it already feels different in terms of trade, but as you rightly say, there are lots of suppliers out there who will see 43 forces-or indeed 52-and think there is a lot of hay to be made while the sun is shining. We are very alive to that risk. It is a fair challenge to say that we have not yet done that much to demonstrate that we can meet it, but that is a key part of the capability that the Home Secretary expects to see in NewCo, which we have not had in previous arrangements.

Q128 Fiona Mactaggart: You might say the Home Secretary expects-I am certain the Home Secretary hopes, and I bet every taxpayer hopes, too- but my problem is that this Report suggests that there is not a strong enough process in place that can deliver that. Are you a betting man? Would your bet be that RIM, Airwave or whoever wins, or will your guys win?

Stephen Rimmer: Airwave is a good example, because no one inside the Department would claim that the existing contract with Airwave is a model for the future. We are about to get into the process of, as the Report mentions, specifying the requirements for a successor to Airwave. The relationship with suppliers as we develop that programme, which Dame Helen chairs at programme level across a number of Departments, is a good test of that. All I can say at this stage is that we are alive to the test that you have described. There is some capability inside Government now and your Committee will see more of those people than anyone, in terms of, from my perspective, Cabinet Office and Home Office capability, which was not there when this programme was running.

Q129 Amyas Morse: On the point of weighting the extreme ranges, which are described as extreme, we said that, on average, the forces thought that there had been some more time out of a police station. We do not regard it as very significant that there was an extreme range, except that it shows the little grip there was on information and on baselining. I think that that is fair. I am not saying that you have not addressed any of it since, but there was not much grip. Let me ask you, since we are talking like this: if you were starting the programme from now, would you have put the money out as fast as that? I know that the intention was to be stimulating, but is this the best way of doing it, in your view?

Nick Gargan: A programme like this would not happen in this way now. The promise would be very different and, ironically, this programme probably represents the high-water mark of central grip on policing for the agency, albeit it was an agency that was finding its feet at the time. At that time, I was an assistant chief in Thames Valley, and this was one of the first ways in which we saw the NPIA. It was one of the first manifestations of this new agency. We were nervous that it would have us by a very tight grip. The grip was a little less tight than we expected it might be and it has become less and less tight ever since. Now that the agency is to be phased out, it is rather loose indeed.

Q130 Amyas Morse: So you would not start from there, if you were starting now. That is the point that I was asking about.

Nick Gargan: The programme is all about carrying out the will and aspiration of Ministers, and it would depend on what that aspiration was. I think it very unlikely that that aspiration would be the same now as it might have been at the time that this programme was announced.

Q131 Mr Bacon: That answer slightly worries me, because if this was the high-water mark of central control, it is, none the less, the same high-water mark where a minute ago Dame Helen was saying, "I think that if we said to people, ‘If we give you these devices, will you promise to use them in a certain way and get certain benefits out of them’, that would have been unreasonable." I paraphrase you, but I do not think I do so inaccurately.

The whole heart of this problem, in terms of value for money, is that the high-water mark of this central control was an announcement that there would be 10,000 devices and that they would get out there in a 12-month period. As one of my colleagues-I think it was Mr Swales-said about the five points in 2.2, one of the aims was to "develop a framework to realise benefits". There was no attempt to set out what the benefits would be at the beginning. To paraphrase you again, Dame Helen, if you were to say, "We are going to spend £71 million on giving you a mainframe computer to do various things, but it would be unreasonable to expect you to tell us exactly how you are going to use it before we give you the money," most people would have thought that that was crazy. That, however, is essentially what happened in what you have described as a catalytic approach to the development of technology. Hopefully, this could not happen again, because there is simply not enough money around, but it is slightly worrying that when there is, it can. In 3.18 on page 32, it states, "The Agency developed a benefits framework with a set of nine core metrics". Can you tell me, Mr Gargan, when that happened? When did this benefits framework get developed?

Nick Gargan: I would have to get back to you. It was in the course of the programme. It must have been in the first half of 2009.

Q132 Mr Bacon: So after the first 12 months from September 2007 to September 2008.

Nick Gargan: The way that it worked was that 2007 was the announcement. February 2008 was when the programme board first sat, and that was when the invitation for forces to bid was sent out. The responses came back, and the announcement of who got what was delayed because of purdah. It was made in May, and then forces embarked on this kind of race to get to-

Q133 Mr Bacon: There is a very helpful schedule in figure 3 setting that out. My point was that from September 2007, when the announcement was made, the delivery would happen of these 10,000 devices within 12 months. That happened, and your attempt to develop a benefits framework started, you said, in early 2009-six months after the delivery had been completed of the initial 10,000 devices. Is that correct?

Nick Gargan: I am not confident in 2009-I was just trying to work out when it would have been. I would need to get back to you on that.

Q134 Mr Bacon: My point is that it was after the devices had been delivered.

Nick Gargan: I do not know that. This is the point about where the benefit is measured and where the benefit is felt. At the time, I was assistant chief at Thames Valley police rolling this out. In December 2007, I had the local evaluation-the business benefits review of the trial-and it was telling me about improved visibility and engagement, improving public access to staff, accurate identification of suspects and higher quality of information, and appropriate arrest decisions. The way this was being done in policing was that as part of the criteria every force had to satisfy us that it would decide what success was going to look like; it would be responsible for measuring that benefit; and it would satisfy us that the process was going on. Although it was a high-water mark comparative to other times, it was still very much driven locally. At the centre, we were conscious of Ronnie Flanagan and everything that he was saying about bureaucracy and trying to reduce central reporting requirements. Most of the data that have gone into this are based on a survey from the forces.

Q135 Mr Bacon: Can I just return briefly to the question of the Essex force? You have said that it has got 3,000 devices. There were an initial 10,000 devices, and paragraph 2.1 says that that was upped to 20,000 and eventually 30,000. Essex has 10% of the devices, and yet in the chart on page 26-figure 8-there is no mention of Essex at all.

Aileen Murphie: That is because it did not respond.

Q136 Mr Bacon: Essex did not send in a response to the survey. Did it fail to respond to the survey because you would not have liked the answer it would have given you?

Aileen Murphie: I cannot speculate on why people do not reply.

Mr Bacon: Could we possibly find out what happened to the 3,000 devices that Essex are using? As Jackie Doyle-Price indicated, they are not all where they are needed. If we can have a letter from you, setting that out, even if it requires a bit of research-

Q137 Chair: Can I just say that it has twigged something-my obsession with accountability? Essex chose not to respond. In the new arrangements that are proposed post abolition of the Audit Commission, can you compel people to respond? Or will you be able to?

Aileen Murphie: Not under current legislation.

Q138 Chair: So how are we going to satisfy ourselves?

Mr Bacon: Are you sure you can’t?

Gabrielle Cohen: You would expect the accounting officer to be able to provide the information that you need, so it would be through that route.

Dame Helen Ghosh: We would expect HMIC to provide that information.

Q139 Chair: It is a bit crazy to have a table as you have got it.

Dame Helen Ghosh: I agree. The powers of HMIC-both the moral power and indeed the statutory power-to get that information are what we rely on.

Q140 Chair: So in the future, under the new arrangements-I know this is three or four years down the line-we will not have a table that says, "These are the only guys who agreed to respond to an NAO survey"?

Dame Helen Ghosh: Nick has more personal experience of this, but HMIC, as the formal statutory inspector, has the right to go in and get the information. As Stephen was saying, that is one element of our transparency and accountability. That information, for us, would come predominantly from HMIC.

Gabrielle Cohen: I think, Chair, there would be no difference under the new arrangements in terms of how we would get the information. What we would do in future is to go via HMIC ourselves and ask it to collect the information.

Q141 Mr Bacon: If we could have a comprehensive note specifically on Essex, that would be very kind. I have one more quick question. Paragraph 3.24 talks about how ISIS contains many of the key components that the NAO would expect to find in Government ICT services, and yet the mobile information programme is not one of the projects included in the ISIS programme. It goes on in the following paragraph, which Fiona Mactaggart referred to earlier, to say: "Opportunities to converge ICT and business processes through using mobile technology effectively, and learning from forces that use their mobile devices in different ways, are not being captured, shared or coordinated as part of ISIS." In light of the fact that your agency has been wound up, and that they are not part of ISIS, how are they going to be captured, shared and co-ordinated-through whom?

Nick Gargan: I will perhaps deal with the first part of the question and then press on. The reason this was not included in ISIS is that it predated ISIS. Subsequent to the programme and, increasingly, subsequent to the Report, with the sort of things that I have described to you about the information management business area mentioned by Ailsa, the police online knowledge area-POLKA-events that we run for forces and events that police IT directors run when they come together, there is now a broad network of idea and information sharing across forces. To an extent, we have caught up with this, and forces are working increasingly-

Q142 Mr Bacon: There is a natural interest in clustering; one would hope, anyway.

Stephen Rimmer: ISIS, as it evolves, is going to be very much owned by chiefs. It is a service-led strategy, and therefore it will naturally come within the purview of the Police Professional Body, following the NPIA. It is a really good test for that professional body, not just on IT but on other things, as to the rhetoric of sharing and acting on good practice, applying itself in a more sustained way. I do not think the police service would claim that it has ever done that in a wholly successful way, and I do not think any set of Ministers would feel that it has ever fully landed.

HMIC has a degree of role in that, in terms of its thematic reviews and the degree of stick as well as carrot. But regarding the professional drive in the Body, which, as I tried to make clear before, will be owned much more by the service as opposed to NPIA, which was a more classic tripartite arrangement, the expectation-again, it has to be an expectation, because it does not exist yet-is that the self-generation of good practice-because it will save money and improve service-is going to be a better incentive than being part of a national body that is not owned by the chiefs themselves.

Chair: We will test it.

Q143 Austin Mitchell: My mind has just wheeled off to localism. I see from figure 4 on page 20 that for funds received as a percentage of funds applied for, three authorities-posh counties, all of them; they probably include bits of a county that are particularly beset with problems-got 100%. Lancashire got 99%, but Yorkshire and Humberside, where the urbanisation and problems are much the same as in Lancashire, but where the average IQ is much higher, got only 64%. What would account for those differences?

Nick Gargan: It was about the way that the criteria were matched by those forces.

Q144 Austin Mitchell: Was it to do with the degree to which they already have technology?

Nick Gargan: We said that we would prioritise those forces where the chief officers and the police authority were right behind it, where they could show us that this kit would be deployed.

Q145 Austin Mitchell: They weren’t behind it in Yorkshire and Humberside?

Nick Gargan: I do not know how each force scored against each thing, but there is a cumulative package of scores. Was it operationally focused? Did it map to the force’s objectives? Did we think they would be able to deliver? Was there enough resource to make the programme work? Were there methodologies to show us it could be managed and controlled? Were they going to manage the risk? Were they going to accept our reporting requirements? Were they committed to a return on investment?

Q146 Austin Mitchell: So you were more impressed with those applications?

Nick Gargan: I was not around at the time, but those were the criteria that were applied. It was overseen by ACPO rather than by the agency.

Fiona Mactaggart: That gives us the reason why Thames Valley is getting 100%.

Q147 Austin Mitchell: Moving on to figure 8 on page 26, this is a percentage of devices in surveyed forces. It says that three forces have more devices than officers-good on them. Nineteen have sufficient devices available for less than half of their officers, and that includes the Met, which has 10%. I have seen from paragraph 2.11 that some forces have yet to spend the money at all. How are you going to bring that lot into line, so that the police forces in those authorities have at least as good technology as the criminals?

Nick Gargan: To deal with the forces at the top, as mentioned earlier on, it is forces where devices have gone to people who are not police officers, be they scene-of-crime officers or police community support officers.

Q148 Austin Mitchell: But you cannot mandate them or require them to spend the money, so how are you going to push them?

Nick Gargan: Those forces at the bottom that you are referring to there are those with a limited amount of change capacity. Some have decided that they need to sort out the legacy systems first. There is no point piping a brand new BlackBerry into a rubbish back-office system that needs renewing, so they have decided to prioritise their change capacity differently, get the back office right, get the legacy systems right and then buy the BlackBerrys and PDAs and other bits of kit. So it is not for me or indeed any of us at the centre to second-guess a chief constable who is wrestling with which bit of change you do first.

Q149 Austin Mitchell: But for you to get them into line so that the police are as well equipped as they can be.

Stephen Rimmer: Just to pick up on that point and develop it, West Midlands, which is right down at the bottom-where I was last week-were part of a limited pilot, but then the chief put it on hold, partly because he was not convinced of the benefits at that point, but particularly-exactly Nick’s point-there were bigger fish to fry: in their case, a major outsourcing programme, absolutely focusing on your point, Chair, on the back-office savings that West Mids, a force under significant financial pressure, needed to work through.

He is now returning, to go to your point, Mr Mitchell, precisely to the question, with his police authority, about how to roll out any particular system-frankly, piggybacking on this programme-and find what are the best systems now on offer, so that his officers get genuinely the most cost-efficient and highest-capability devices-BlackBerrys or whatever-that are around now. He is focused on that and although, as chief of the second-largest force, he has got 101 other things to worry about, he is clear that is what he wants to do.

Q150 Austin Mitchell: It is good to hear that. What part are you anticipating that elected police commissioners will play in this? Will they be a force pushing for better technology?

Stephen Rimmer: The assumption with Police and Crime Commissioners, again other than in London, where the London equivalent is now in place-this is an expectation yet to be proven-is that the mandate that they have been elected on, which will presumably be first and foremost about cutting crime and improving community safety-to go back again to the Chair’s point-will be to do anything to squeeze out resource from support services and capabilities to get on to the front line to reassure the public. They will go-whatever the right phrase is-very fast towards it and, importantly-[Interruption.] Thank you. Importantly, their decisions around funding and value for money will be published and will be directly accountable to the public, so even if they choose for whatever reason not to do that, Ministers expect their decisions on that to be far more transparent, both to the Police and Crime Panel, which is responsible for scrutinising them, and the public, because of the level of data that they are required, under the Act that came in last year, to publish on this. So, again, much greater visibility, hopefully, of the decisions that are taken or not taken in terms of value for money.

Austin Mitchell: I hope so.

Q151 Meg Hillier: We have talked quite a bit almost about letting 1,000 flowers bloom: you send the money out and see what people bid for and see what happens. But in the end, I think 40,000 devices were out there under the programme in total. The three witnesses we had before us had about 8,000 between them-okay, maybe some of them may have had them already. Essex, we understand, had about 3,000. So, actually, a quarter or more of the devices were with four different forces.

Did you ever consider just having a pilot in a couple of the forces that were near to getting it going-maybe one that was underdeveloped and one that was overdeveloped? A lot of them are spread very thinly. Was that a consideration in the early days?

Dame Helen Ghosh: I don’t know the answer to that question, because obviously I was not present, and I don’t think Stephen was, at the discussions initially. Again, the Committee will be struck by this point. Of course, part of the reason we went when we did was that we had capital available and we wanted to use it for something useful. That is just the way, as you know, that public spending controls work. Therefore, taking advantage of money that we had and that we might not have in a future year is one of the reasons you would say, "Actually, we want to do something useful with this now." Therefore that would argue against a pilot.

In all sorts of ways, that was then and this is now and resources are much tighter. The idea that you would either have a specific pilot for a programme like this in the future or work specifically-or invite bids or be more selective about the bids you responded to-might well be what you would do.

Q152 Meg Hillier: Dame Helen, even with the scale of money that was available-been there, done that; the speed of chase that you have to get that in for it to be clawed back by the Treasury-you could have had three or four forces really going for it and getting it really good, which would have then, presumably, Mr Gargan, been a catalyst. You talked a lot, Dame Helen, about the catalysing process. Would that not have been an easier way for the Home Office, if you talk about central control and monitoring and accountability, to have held them very tightly to account, rather than this "Let’s send them out there and see what happens," which is sort of how it has come across to us today?

Nick Gargan: In a sense, the announcement reflected a sense that that pilot had already happened in the places where it had gone well. For a couple of years, people like Matt Baggott, who was at the time the chief constable in Leicestershire, had done an enormous amount to equip officers with the PDAs. He had the ear of Sir Ronnie Flanagan and was saying, "Look, we need to get this out quickly. This is enormously beneficial. This is changing the lives of patrolling officers, of neighbourhood officers today." We in Thames Valley had done an evaluation, which I just referred to. That predated the launch of the bidding process, albeit the evaluation came after announcement, so forces were pretty confident with this. There were other forces who were some way behind, but the sense of needing a further pilot did not chime with the times when forces were really impatient and wanting to get cracking and crying out for this kit.

Dame Helen Ghosh: We did have a phase 1 that was more selectively focused on the people who had some essential track record or planning. In that sense, it wasn’t indiscriminate, but there was an element of choosing to spread our jam thinner than focusing it on two or three projects.

Q153 Meg Hillier: So the short answer to the question really is, how would you do it differently if you were to get that money now?

Dame Helen Ghosh: It would depend on what you were trying to achieve-back to our earlier discussion, I think.

Q154 Meg Hillier: In this case, there wasn’t a clear set of desired outcomes-well, there was the list of five, but they weren’t there at the beginning, were they? Which way round would you do it? Would you do the same again in the hope that that would catalyse, or would you set strict criteria, as we heard earlier?

Dame Helen Ghosh: Coming back to Nick’s point-Stephen may have some specific examples in mind-it would depend how novel what you were trying to do was. If you have a Leicestershire and a Thames Valley who have shown that it is working, in a sense you can be more confident and set the kind of criteria that Nick described. If it was some very novel technology, you might well say, "Let’s just see if we can get two or three people to do something like this and then roll it out fully."

Stephen Rimmer: I also think-I’m not trying to dodge your question-the Home Office would have to ask itself, with any national agency where it is coming to this view, whether whatever scheme it came up with was absolutely slam-dunk going to deliver greater value for money than simply ensuring that the resources were going appropriately to Police and Crime Commissioners to sort out locally the best way to deliver value for money out of their assets. I don’t think you can really answer that question in the world of Police and Crime Commissioners, because you either believe in that model as the best deliverer of value for money, or you don’t. If you don’t, they would not be there.

I find it very hard to visualise in reality how the Home Office, in that sort of programme around core capability for policing, would seek to differentiate between some police forces and others on the basis of some Police and Crime Commissioners being better at delivering value for money than others, because how confident would we be about that judgment? How confident would we be about the programme that we were somehow delivering outwith the normal funding arrangements?

Nick Gargan: The context at the time was a succession of announcements. You would be told you would receive x amount of cash to recruit 530 PCSOs, and then a little while later you would receive x amount of cash to procure 1,200 mobile devices. What was coming from the centre was really very prescriptive. It is unlikely that it is going to be like that.

Dame Helen Ghosh: This is speculation, but picking up on Stephen’s point, this comes back to the fact that these bodies will be owned by the forces themselves. The NewCo will be able to look out there and test new technology and work with its owners, the PCCs, to think how they could collectively test new technology. You might well want them, and they might want, to do some sort of demonstration projects in this new world, but the difference between now and then is that now it would be a Home Office driven thing and in the new world it will be a forces-owned thing. They can decide collectively, "Let’s try that technology. Will two or three of you try it?" They would decide.

Q155 Meg Hillier: That is very helpful. It drives us right to accountability: how you at the Home Office or we on this Committee will be able to benchmark the forces’ performance against each other. Will it be the inspectorate that provides that data-you will still have to collect it somehow, and they will have to provide it, presumably-or you? Will it be them or will it be you? Will you be watching it yourself?

Dame Helen Ghosh: Yes, exactly. I shall preface this by picking up a comment that a member of the Committee made earlier. We have described our structure and discussed with the Committee beforehand how the systems statement will work. As Stephen said, at a local level the fundamental building block is transparency, data and openness with local accountability, but it will be supported for my purposes as accounting officer by a set of data available to local people, whether about crime through crime maps, annual reports or the value-for-money statements that Stephen described, by the essential building blocks of the HMIC value-for-money comparators. So we will have the information that looks at comparable authorities, their outcomes in terms of value for money, crime and the number of people doing different functions in the organisation. That will enable us to know whether the outcomes they are achieving are value for money for the taxpayers’ money going in.

What we will not be doing-this picks up Mr Mitchell’s question-is defining or judging them by what they are using to achieve that. Will we instruct people to get more mobile devices or fewer mobile devices? No, we won’t, but we will be saying, "These are the crimes you are choosing to focus on," or, "These are the national, regional capabilities that we are expecting you to have," and "You are spending this much on it. The judgment of HMIC is that it is good value for money or it’s not so good." We will have comparators with a sort of family of forces. That is how we will be judging the value for money of these organisations. There will be local accountability and transparency; there will also be a role for us centrally and, ultimately, powers for the Home Secretary to intervene on value-for-money grounds, if we think any particular PCC or force is failing the taxpayer. That is the way it will work.

Q156 Meg Hillier: One final question about the type of devices. Fingerprinting has not been included in any of the specifications. Would that now be a decision for a local police and crime commissioner or would it be something that NewCo and the Home Office take on board? It would save an awful lot of time. It would eliminate someone on the street.

Dame Helen Ghosh: Yes. I would put in terms of: what is the appropriate thing for the nature of the operation? Back down in Hampshire the other day, the traffic police had and seemed to operate perfectly satisfactorily-they have, in a sense, a sort of travelling office-a separate fingerprint device. There was no problem with the fact that it was a separate fingerprinting device. They stop the car; they are suspicious about the person, so they look at the insurance on the other system and do the fingerprint, which actually fills in a bit of time while they are getting data from the ABI. There is no problem about that. It may be different from the police constable on the beat, who might want the whole thing integrated.

Nick Gargan: I can show you one. You get a finger on that and send the image off. It comes back within a minute, and you can identify the individual.

Q157 Chair: But you are not going to prescribe it? They can use it, if they want it.

Nick Gargan: Many forces have elected to procure it.

Q158 Chair: But you are not going to prescribe it.

Nick Gargan: It is not our place.

Dame Helen Ghosh: It is not our place. Why would we do so?

Q159 Chair: No, but what would be interesting is that those forces that do not want to use it-it will be difficult to judge, but people have to make those judgments-and are perhaps a bit more suspicious or old fashioned may then show up on the stats that we see or you see.

Dame Helen Ghosh: They will not be able to achieve the efficiencies they need to achieve unless they rethink their business processes and make the best use of technology to do so.

Q160 Chair: Will you intervene then? If they are cutting police officers rather than introducing fingerprinting devices-it is not that a direct relationship, but let us take it as an example-will you intervene?

Dame Helen Ghosh: As Stephen has said, the decision whether, for example, to have more police officers or more technology is ultimately one for the police and crime commissioner. We have a long-stop interest. We look at the overall outcome of that police force in terms of the crimes it is dealing with and its efficiency in supporting the strategic police requirement, and ask: does it appear to be providing the taxpayer-for our grant that we have given it-with value for money? That is our level of interest. We will not be here to dictate the balance that that police and crime commissioner chooses to have.

Q161 Chair: You haven’t answered. I understand your level of interest, but if you get really frustrated because you have a really old-fashioned police force somewhere that is refusing to do anything, will you intervene?

Stephen Rimmer: In my view, if it came to the point-obviously, it is a judgment for Ministers in each case; there would not be a formula, they would look at each case on its merits-there would be at least three tests that might drive it. One is if HMIC has come in hard to Ministers and said, "Look, this is bonkers. These five forces are not making something that is demonstrably cutting crime by x% in most of the other 37". Another is if there were a particularly cause celebre case-that can drive that sort of decision making. The third, and I think this is more likely on a more regular basis and, if you like, the most benign way, is if the service through its Professional Body, which is setting standards and will therefore be looking at whether forces are adhering to those standards, is frankly getting fed up with the lack of consistency, it will go formally to the Home Office and say, "You need to mandate this or at the very least you need to give a collaborative direction". That is the most likely, but in more dramatic cases one of other two could apply, yes.

Q162 Meg Hillier: It is not just by chance that I picked on fingerprinting. In this House alone, there is huge political disagreement-in fact, the first Act of this Government was to abolish identity cards largely because of the concern about fingerprints, but I don’t know which Act of Parliament allows police officers to carry these things. You could have a police and crime commissioner who is politically absolutely opposed to fingerprinting while all the other 42 forces over time start doing it. Would that be his or her political choice to do that in their local area, or would what Stephen Rimmer has just described kick in at some point?

Stephen Rimmer: It could do. Of course, it would be an operational judgment for the chief. It will not necessarily be the PCC saying, "You can’t do that".

Q163 Meg Hillier: But for some of those chiefs, it could be a very political not operational matter.

Stephen Rimmer: Well, yes. That is another debate around how far the protocol that defines the relationship between the two works.

Q164 Meg Hillier: The problem with straying into policy areas.

Q165 Chair: Do you want to answer that question? I know it is a tough question, but what is your answer?

Stephen Rimmer: I think it will depend on the circumstances. If the chief and the PCC in a particular area are clear as to why, in their police and crime plan and with their budget, they have better priorities and reasons why they do not believe in that capability, and it is lawful and they can account for it to the public, I don’t think Ministers would automatically interfere.

Q166 Meg Hillier: Will Mr Gargan comment?

Nick Gargan: I don’t know. That is the answer.

Q167 Stephen Barclay: Dame Helen, what percentage of police IT spend do you expect to go through NewCo in order to judge that a success, say, in two years’ time? Will you produce a breakdown of the spend per force, so we can see any outliers?

Dame Helen Ghosh: We do not have a particular figure in mind. As Stephen said, what we are creating is the opportunity-and we expect it to be a programme that more and more PCCs choose to join-for forces to get better value for money and better and more strategic advice on the uses of technology. Therefore, we would not at this stage set a particular outcome for how much of their spend we expect. We expect for those who join a high percentage of their spend on local IT systems.

Q168 Stephen Barclay: You do not have a working estimate of what "good" might look like?

Dame Helen Ghosh: When we come to produce the overview, we will give some indication of what kinds of values of contracts we expect to be managed by the organisation and what kind of return we expect them to get, so we will be putting out some kind of estimate on the basis of a range of scenarios on that, but it does depend on how many forces and how many PCCs choose to join. Then of course it also depends-this is where the Home Office will continue to have a very close interest in terms of their income and activity-on the extent to which they are procuring and then managing some of the national contracts. That will obviously be a big value in terms of their turnover. There is a range of decisions that have to be made, so I would not predict at this stage.

Q169 Stephen Barclay: Will you publish a breakdown so we can see force by force the use of NewCo?

Dame Helen Ghosh: As and when we get to having set it up, the information will be entirely public. It will be a public body-a public corporation-and we will be completely transparent.

Q170 Stephen Barclay: Well, it will be a public body, yes, but that does not necessarily ensure that it will publish a breakdown so that we can see where the outliers are. You might have a target of 30% or you may come back to the Committee in two years’ time and say, "30% is going through. 50% is going through," but that could be disproportionately from certain forces.

Dame Helen Ghosh: Indeed, it could be.

Q171 Stephen Barclay: Will you ensure that what is publicly produced allows outliers to be identified?

Dame Helen Ghosh: Yes. I am very happy to look at that.

Q172 Stephen Barclay: That is very welcome. May I come to Mr Gargan? Three years ago, your organisation was talking about how tough the economic climate was and the challenges. Why does a body have £2 million of antiques at the moment?

Nick Gargan: Most of our antiques are in Bramshill, which is a splendid but very expensive Jacobean mansion that was gifted to us by the former national police training organisation, Centrex. They are held in trust on behalf of the service and on behalf of the nation in a listed building. We do not buy antiques, and neither would I be particularly comfortable about selling them, so I feel that I am just stuck with them.

Q173 Stephen Barclay: You are satisfied with £2 million of antiques, then-[Laughter.] It just jumped out at me from the annual accounts, but as accounting officer you have looked at that.

To come on to another thing, in the annual accounts it says that someone exiting the organisation was paid over £500,000, two people were paid between £200,000 and £500,000-this was in 2009-10-and last year 15 people received between £150,000 and £200,000. I have two questions. First, could you talk us, as a Committee, through why someone was paid over £500,000, and can you quantify that? Secondly, given that the organisation, as I understand it, is being phased out by the end of 2012, what is your working estimate of the exit charges that will apply in terms of staff?

Nick Gargan: In terms of the highest figures, I am unaware of the individual cases. I know that it is no defence to this Committee to say that it was not on my watch, but I just do not know. I would need to find out.

Q174 Stephen Barclay: Were you not working for the organisation at the time?

Nick Gargan: I came in as deputy at the very beginning of 2010, and I was not involved. I have a hunch as to what the decision might be, but it was before-

Q175 Stephen Barclay: But these accounts will have been signed off while you were with the organisation.

Nick Gargan: Yes. I am undertaking to-

Q176 Stephen Barclay: Just let me clarify. You say, "I have no knowledge of this," but you were the deputy of the organisation that signed off the annual accounts at the time this payment was made. Is that correct?

Nick Gargan: Yes, but I do not remember it. It is simply a memory matter. Rather than talk and guess, I would prefer to clarify it and come back to you.

In relation to the more recent group of payments that you described, I was more directly involved there because I was chief executive at the time. As part of phasing out the agency, we have shrunk considerably and taken successive chunks of savings out. Part of that has been achieved through two separate voluntary early-release schemes, where we applied the criteria of the time. That has enabled us to bring the agency from a headcount of 2,200 people to a headcount of less than 1,600 people, and we paid people their entitlement at the time. Of course, those entitlements have changed, but we had a lot of people who were long-term public servants-people who worked initially in the Home Office or the Met police and transferred into PITO and then to the NPIA. As we have shrunk, we have had to downsize across the organisation, and we have paid the going rate.

Q177 Stephen Barclay: This may be something for the accounting officer to give us a note on, but given that a relatively finite number were paid over £100,000, have any of those gone into other policing roles?

Nick Gargan: I do not know. I could not account for that, and I am not even sure that I would have the data. What I do know is that there is a restriction on any of those people re-entering the agency or, I think, the Home Office-

Dame Helen Ghosh: The civil service. They will have left under the then prevalent, as Nick said, civil service scheme.

Q178 Stephen Barclay: But they could go to SOCA.

Dame Helen Ghosh: No; if they had transferred to SOCA, which is another NDPB, they would not be entitled to a voluntary early severance or retirement package, and we impose those conditions very strongly. To answer the second part of your question about how we will be handling this for the future, a number of NPIA staff will simply be transferring, under TUPE or the Cabinet Office equivalent, to other organisations. Some will come into the Home Office, some ultimately to NewCo and some to the PPB. Those people would not qualify for any departure money.

Q179 Stephen Barclay: What is the estimated cost for those who are departing, given these very high settlements?

Nick Gargan: I am not anticipating a substantial early release package again.

Q180 Stephen Barclay: You must have something worked into your budget. You must have some sort of estimate.

Nick Gargan: No, I don’t think we will need to. We have shrunk to a substantial extent. The agency’s successor bodies will need make their own plans for shrinking in future years, but for as long as the agency is around, I do not anticipate a need for a further redundancy or early release package. There may be some isolated individuals and cases, and we will pay the market rate, but I anticipate that being well less than £1 million, because there is no need for a big programme.

Q181 Stephen Barclay: Can we have a note, please, on the case of someone being paid more than half a million pounds to leave, and the cases of those paid between £200,000 and £500,000, so that we can understand?

Dame Helen Ghosh: Yes. That will include the point-I know this from other instances-that that is not the money they are paid to leave or the money that they take away with them; it is the cost of their leaving. It includes the ongoing cost of their pension and other things.

Q182 Stephen Barclay: Of course. Your predecessor, as CEO, has a pension pot of £2.77 million, and left your organisation to do a secondment or temporary post with the Home Office. These are already pretty sizeable pension pots, to which, it appears, large sums of money are being added.

Nick Gargan: To be fair to my predecessor, prior to his retirement, the last three months of his service with the NPIA were spent on secondment to the Home Office, producing a report for the Home Secretary. That was not in addition to the pension pot; it was simply how he spent the last three months of his service.

Q183 Mr Bacon: You are saying that he is going to have to slum it with the basic £2.7 million and nothing on top.

Nick Gargan: That is the overall pot, of course.

Q184 Mr Bacon: Can I quickly follow up one of Mr Barclay’s questions? For the sake of clarity, Dame Helen, I think you said that none of the people who have been paid to leave in the way that Mr Gargan has described will be prohibited from joining the civil service. Is that right?

Dame Helen Ghosh: If you leave under the terms of the civil service compensation scheme, there are very strict rules about re-employment in the civil service, because clearly you cannot be paid to go and then come back. You would have to repay part or all of the amount that you had left with if that were to happen. That is what I meant.

Q185 Mr Bacon: Do those rules last for a certain period of time, after which they cut out? For example, if someone did not work for the civil service for two or three years, would they be able to rejoin without making those payments?

Dame Helen Ghosh: I will let you have a note. I think there is a taper, but-

Q186 Mr Bacon: What about NewCo? Will any of these people be able to join NewCo?

Dame Helen Ghosh: Some of the people whom Nick describes as currently working for NPIA we would expect-

Q187 Mr Bacon: I am not talking about the people whom Mr Gargan referred to, who will be moved across under TUPE or whatever the equivalent is; I am talking about those whom Mr Barclay referred to, who are paid a shedload-even though it is only in the topping up of their pension-to depart. Will they pop up in NewCo? Are they able, under your rules, to pop up in NewCo?

Dame Helen Ghosh: I will let you know the rules, which will define whether they would be able to pop up in NewCo.

Q188 Mr Bacon: You don’t know whether they can pop up in NewCo. You have said that they cannot pop up in the civil service.

Dame Helen Ghosh: No, I said that a set of rules governs whether and under what circumstances people have to repay their departure payment if they are re-employed.

Q189 Mr Bacon: And if they apply to the civil service?

Dame Helen Ghosh: Were they to apply to the civil service, the rules would apply. I would have to check what the situation is in relation to a public corporation, which is what NewCo will be.

Mr Bacon: That is what particularly interests me.

Q190 Stephen Barclay: It would not apply to APCO, would it, because APCO is a private company?

Mr Bacon: Mr Rimmer is nodding, by the way, which is always a dangerous thing in this Committee.

Dame Helen Ghosh: Apply to what? [Interruption.] To ACPO. The Association of Chief Police Officers is a private company limited by guarantee.

Stephen Barclay: So there would be no restriction. If I look at your board structure, there is quite a crossover. Likewise, someone getting a large payout from here could pop up there because, as I understand it, its legal constitution-

Q191 Mr Bacon: That is my concern. Mr Rimmer, you were nodding a minute ago-I think, in answer to my question, "Could they pop up in NewCo?"

Stephen Rimmer: No-I was agreeing that it is a good prompt to check how the rules apply to a-

Dame Helen Ghosh: Because it will be owned by public bodies in the form of corporation sole-I think that is how they are described, as PCCs-it is a public body. All I was saying was, whatever the rules are under the civil service compensation scheme for the people who left NPIA, they will apply to the circumstances of a public corporation. I do not, I’m afraid, have those rules off the top of my head.

Q192 Ian Swales: When you let us know, could you also cover what happens when someone pops up as a contractor to the civil service?

Dame Helen Ghosh: Yes, because there are similar rules about that.

Mr Bacon: There is a history-particularly in the health service, but also elsewhere in local government-of people getting redundo left, right and centre and popping up again to get more redundo, to do it again on a gravy train. That is what we are concerned about.

Chair: Thank you.


[1] The MPS has delivered 3,700 devices, 2,200 of which were paid for by the Home Office grant

Prepared 13th March 2012