Issue details

PCC DN - authorisation to sign the S.22 agreement of the North West Emergency Services Network (ESN)

There is a proposal to update the North West Emergency Services Network s22A Collaboration Agreement into the new template developed by APACE in collaboration with the NPCC and the Association of Police Lawyers.

The parties to the current agreement are Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester Police, Lancashire, Merseyside and the Lead Chief Officer and Policing Body are Cheshire.

The ESN project was set up by the Home Office in 2016 to replace the existing Airwave radio network. Each NW Force had a small project team with the Chief Constables from each Force agreeing to contribute towards a small regional team. A section 22 agreement was signed and has been in place since 2017.

Ordinarily there would not be an issue with transitioning to the new form of Agreement. However, recently the Home Office announced a major delay to the programme (2 to 3 years) and NPCC made a decision to stand down all regional teams. This is due to happen for the NW at the end of March 2023. In November 2022, the Chief Constable of Cheshire advised in a letter that they had recently taken the pragmatic decision to wind down the regional ESN team given the lack of progress nationally on the project.

One of the general principles of the new form Agreement is that each Party is to share fairly the benefits, risks and liabilities of the collaboration. This will involve each party making a financial contribution to cover its share of any part of the budget that is not covered by external funding. Greater Manchester general contribution ratio is 41.98%.

A Force may withdraw from the collaboration by giving twelve months’ notice or the agreement may be terminated at any time by the unanimous agreement of the parties.

Given the national position, and the wish to disband the current arrangements, Cheshire would be amenable to reducing the required notice period and ending the Collaboration by mutual consent. However, it should be noted that the cost sharing provisions contained within the new iteration of the S22 agreement are different. In the new form, the cost of any redundancies of staff who are members of the Centrally Funded Team are a liability of the NORTH WEST EMERGENCY SERVICES NETWORK and the parties agree to proportionately reimburse the cost of any redundancy in accordance with the Apportionment Ratio. The potential implications of this are set out in the Financial Comments section of this decision.

Reasons why the updates decision should be signed:

S22A Collaborations should be on the most up to date template, as part of good governance. HMICFRS have a particular interest in collaborations. GMCA were not named on the previous S22a (it referred instead to PCC for GM) and the new form is updated for GDPR.

GMP/GMCA are still a party to the collaboration even though we haven’t signed the updated version, but every other regional CC and Policing body has. We will need to work together to agree the position as to how the Agreement will come to an end by way of mutual consent in March 2023.

If the parties cannot reach agreement, then mutual termination will not be possible and will trigger each party serving a 12 months notice to exit and continuing to pay the costs of and incidental to that.

This would be a complex and difficult scenario to navigate through. GMP has some favourable information surrounding the funding below, which suggests that a pragmatic way forward should be adopted.

Whilst this Agreement will be terminated in March 2023 there are of course many other agreements that remain in existence so there is a need to maintain relations in that regard.

Decision type: Non-key

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Notice of proposed decision first published: 13/01/2023

Decision due: 22 Dec 2022 by Director for Police, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, GM Deputy Mayor, Treasurer GMCA

Contact: Lisa Lees Email: lisa.leese@greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk.

Decisions

Background papers