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West Mercia Governance Board

Notes of Meeting

Wednesday 25th January 2023 – 14:00

The Willison Room, Hindlip


  • Marc Bayliss (MB) Chair – Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner
  • Pippa Mills (PM) – Chief Constable
  • Alex Murray (AM) – Deputy Chief Constable
  • Richard Muirhead (RM) – Director of Commercial Services
  • Rachel Hartland-Lane (RHL) – Director of Business Services
  • Richard Cooper (RC) – Assistant Chief Constable
  • Gareth Boulton (GB) – Chief Executive Officer
  • Paul Benfield (PB) – Treasurer
  • Tony Morriss (TM) – Deputy Chief Executive Officer


  • John Campion (JC) – Police and Crime Commissioner
  • Rachel Jones (RJ) – Assistant Chief Constable


Ref 01/25/01/2023


As above.

Ref 02/25/01/2023

Minutes and Action Updates for meeting held on 21st December 2022 – for approval 

The minutes of the meeting held on 21st December 2022 were agreed. 

Refer to the action spreadsheet for updates

Ref 03/25/01/2023

Stop & Search Strategy / Sprint Activity (2 papers) – for information 

The papers were presented and discussed. 

Clarification was sought from the Chair around what was meant by “disproportionality”. This was clarified by PM in respect of data being examined from several angles. 

GB sought reassurance regarding public engagement / involvement, officer training and use of body worn video. 

Reassurance was provided by PM in respect of how the public would be engaged in the process, staff would be trained and how issues have been overcome to enable universal use of body worn video.  

Ref 04/25/01/2023

Review of Promotion Process (Paper) – for information 

The paper was presented and discussed. 

RHL set out that recommendations within the paper will shape a new policy which is due to be ratified at the March executive board. 

Ref 05/25/01/2023

Always there days (Paper) – For Information 

The paper was presented and discussed. 

It was raised by MB and GB that the decision to remove “Always There Days” would likely prove contentious within the police workforce and has the potential to cause some negative impact on staff morale. 

Force leadership stressed they had discussed this matter at length and could see multiple perspectives on the debate. Ultimately the decision came down to some primary considerations around costs (circa £500,000 per year), and inequality of opportunity within the existing policy. There is also the opportunity to highlight other new / improved employee benefits. 

It was clarified that the policy was proposed to be removed as of April 1st, and any staff who would have qualified for an additional day of leave, would not be entitled to one as a result. GB commented that this may be perceived as moving the goalposts. 

It was noted by PM that OPCC staff would also be affected. RHL agreed to keep GB sighted on potential timings, announcements and communications to ensure a joined up approach.

Ref 06/25/01/2023

COVID Absences (Paper) – For Information 

The paper was presented and discussed. 

There was OPCC support for the proposal. 

RHL clarified that West Mercia is now an outlier as compared to neighbouring forces who have already moved to treating Covid sickness as BAU.  

It was clarified that cases will need to be considered on an individual basis in relation to half-pay decisions etc, factoring in a range of legal and policy implications. 

Ref 07/25/01/2023

Money Matters (Joint) (Paper) – For Information 

The paper was presented and discussed. 

Action: It was agreed that in upcoming review of Corporate Governance Framework and Financial Regulations there was a need to clarify processes and requirements in respect of virements. PB/RM to progress 

RM discussed the anticipated £4.8m underspend for the current financial year and set out potential options for how this may be utilised. These included: 
– £650,000 available for the Chief Constable to utilise, as previously agreed with the PCC  

– Contributions to general reserves 
– Funding of DRIVE initiative 
– Funding of road safety grant round 
– Support to Firearms Licensing Unit 
– Contribution towards capital borrowing 
– Force budget deficit reduction 
– Force redundancy contingency reserves 
– Contingency around pay awards in 2023/24 

It was recognised that actual outturn may vary. There was confidence however that this would still be at least £3m. 

PM highlighted that the proposed investment in Firearms Licensing was not the Force’s operational recommendation in terms of prioritising resources. Chair recognised that operational advice around prioritising resources, but reiterated the PCC’s priority that this further investment would be delivering against a key issue that was relevant to a significant number of West Mercia’s communities and businesses.  As an underspend by the Force returns to the PCC, it is appropriate for it to be allocated to his priorities. 

It was proposed by RM, along with PM and AM that: 

  • Additional contributions be made to reserves, in respect of any potential redundancy payments required. Finding additional revenue savings for redundancy payments would create significant further pressure on the 23/24 budget. The use of one off funding from reserves to offset any identified redundancies would support the force in achieving the required level of recurring revenue savings.   
  • There is opportunity to utilise some of the underspend to slow the timescale of delivering savings, to enable more informed decision making and avoid the need for redundancies as much as possible. This option would result in ‘part year’ savings, rather than full year, but would enable more consideration of what changes should be made in order to balance the budget for 2023/24. 

PB clarified that a ringfenced redundancy reserve would be cash limited and should further funding be required in respect of redundancy, those costs would need to be met from within existing budgets, rather than taking from other reserves. 

RM also highlighted that there was no further revenue budget available for pay awards, and that consideration could be made of making further provision in reserves from the underspend for the risk that the pay award is higher than budgeted. Indicated that each additional 1% of pay award increase would have an in year revenue impact of circa £1m.  

PB wanted to clarify that there is currently no agreement on how the pay award will be managed and funded in 2023/24. The PCC’s position is that an increase of 2% is captured within the draft budget, and that there is further flexibility within the revenue budget proposals to respond to additional inflationary cost pressures. Anything above that would need to be found from within existing Force budgets, rather than reserves. 

ACTION – PB and RM to continue discussions around pay award planning. 

The Chair set out the PCC’s ambition to support a blended approach, in respect of supporting the Force to meet more immediate budgetary challenges, along with ensuring the affordability of the capital programme and reducing the cost of borrowing longer term. 

Decision – MB supported the following use of delivered underspend from the 2022/23 budget to fund specific proposals in the 2023/24 budget. 

  • £250,000 contribution to general reserves 
  • Funding of DRIVE initiative (£280,000) 
  • Funding of road safety grants (£250,000) 
  • £200,000 for Firearms Licensing Unit investment 
  • Existing agreement for £650,000 to be utilised by the Chief Constable, at her discretion 

In respect of other options, there was broad support from the Chair, but no firm decision made in the meeting, on the understanding that more information would be helpful to inform the Force’s position. 

It was agreed that more detail would be provided in the upcoming budget meeting on 30/01/23 to progress towards a final decision. 

Ref 08/25/01/2023

ACC/ACO Update – for information and discussion (3 x Papers) – For Information 

The papers were presented and discussed. 

Chair queried future of Problem Solving Hubs – PM confirmed under review as part of Budget Implementation but no immediate plans for changes.  

Ref 09/25/01/2023

Any Other Business 

PM – the EV employee benefit scheme paper was inadvertently not included for this meeting, concerning whether it would be extended to the OPCC. Query as to how it is considered in an OPCC context as well as WMP. 

ACTION – GB to look at and confirm outside of meeting  

Forward Plan was reviewed and agreed as being accurate, with additional papers identified in the Action tracker to be taken to the February meeting 

Ref 10/25/01/2023

Next Meeting – Date, time, location: 

Wednesday 22nd February 2023, 14:00hrs, Willison Room, Hindlip