Document Sample
Issued by the Defendant Attendance Steering Group

Volume 03/May 05


This document contains an executive summary of the results and lessons learned from Operation Turn-up.
A full version of the report has been produced to accompany this summary – copies can be requested via

Operation Turn-up was a series of local blitzes on outstanding Fail to Appear (FTA) warrants during January
and February 2005. Its aim was to reduce the national backlog of FTA warrants, and to pave the way for
longer term process changes that would prevent this backlog from building up again.

As a result of extensive local support from champions willing to engage with the project – often in addition to
their business as usual tasks – the project was delivered on time, on budget and with significant benefit.

Operation Turn-up was pivotal in:

   Delivering a 21% reduction in the national total of outstanding FTA warrants – from the Turn-up baseline
    in August 2004 of 64,530 to 51,221 as at 31 March 2005
   Forging strong links between agencies at a local and national level through collaborative working
   Building a national picture of FTA warrant activity to feed into new FTA warrant enforcement targets
   Highlighting longer term process improvements for FTA warrant enforcement in the light of these targets.

The project team would like to recognise the significant efforts of all champions in making the operation a
success, and are grateful to those who took additional time to advise on the guidance provided as part of the

In particular, without generous additional support from champions in Lancashire, Merseyside, South Wales,
West Yorkshire and the Metropolitan Police the operation would have failed to meet its objectives – and we
continue to be grateful for their input.

This year, for the first time, LCJBs are setting targets for FTA execution. This is a key element in our
strategy for sustained performance improvement. Operation Turn-Up provides the baseline for this.
In terms of numbers: LCJBs will use the final figure of warrants outstanding in their area on 31
March 2005 as the basis for setting targets for what the figure should be on 31 March 2006. And in
terms of experience and expertise: Turn-Up has provided the building blocks on which an effective
performance management regime can be built.

                                                 1                                     GDC11 (a)

The Turn-up final report demonstrates that Operation Turn-up delivered a 21% reduction in outstanding FTA

       on 31st August 2004, there were 64,530 FTA warrants outstanding nationally
       approximately 51,000 of these warrants were audited as part of Operation Turn-up
       20,169 warrants were actioned in total during the operation – 13,529 of these were executed (often
        after repeated execution attempts), and 6,640 were withdrawn on application to the courts
       at the time of the final Turn-up measurement on 31st March 2005, there were 51,221 warrants
        outstanding nationally – a reduction of 21%.

       looked at another way: we audited 80% of all outstanding warrants. We delivered a result on just
        under a third of the total: the courts withdrew 10%; of the remaining 58,000 we successfully
        executed nearly a quarter - often after repeated execution attempts.

It is worth noting that the reduction to 51,221 does not equate to a simple deduction of all warrants actioned
from the initial baseline – for example, if the national total of outstanding FTA warrants was a static figure,
results might have been expected to be 64,530 – 20,169 = 44,361.

The discrepancy can be attributed to a number of factors that made this national figure fluctuate between the
end of August 2004 and March 2005: for example, more warrants may have been issued as part of business
as usual (only some of which were executed), or amendments to local data may have been made after the
August baseline measurement. A number of defendants may also have been re-bailed after Turn-up and
received further FTA warrants – although it is important to note that we do not have accurate enough data to
corroborate this.

                                          31st August 2004 = 64,530
                                                                          Business as usual issue
                                                                          of warrants, plus possible
                                                                          of warrants, plus possible
                                          auditing and actioning of
                                           outstanding warrants

                                                                             amendments to data
                                            Operation Turn-up:
                                            Operation Turn-up:

                                          31st March 2005 = 51,221

What the discrepancy indicates is that a focus on the entire FTA warrant issue and management process will
be a key part of achieving LCJB targets to reduce the number of outstanding FTA warrants over the next
year. Areas such as Cambridgeshire who have focused on the throughput of warrants have already seen
notable successes, for example.

                    The Defendant Attendance Steering Group recognises that efforts so far have focused on
                    emptying the existing “bath” of warrants – but that if the tap continues to be left running
                    local areas will face challenges in meeting reduction targets. The lessons learned from
                    Turn-up will therefore be used to inform a programme of work that seeks to address
                    improvements in both Bail and Enforcement processes.

                                                                      2                                GDC11 (a)
To support this work, it will be critical to have accurate and timely data to enable us to measure the entire
lifecycle of warrants issued and executed / withdrawn – this should be delivered through improved use of the
Annual Data Requirement to support the measurement of the new FTA warrant enforcement targets.

This data will also enable close monitoring of the national total of outstanding FTA warrants – although the
reduction delivered by Turn-up is a big step towards reducing this total, the figure of 51,221 is still
unacceptably high. The remaining warrants will continue to be managed and actioned as part of business as
usual, and will not be written off simply because the blitz period has now finished. Investment in warrant
management systems should mean that over 2005/2006 we are able to build a more detailed picture of the
category, type and age of the warrants left outstanding, enabling areas to address them more efficiently.

Other key statistical findings outlined in the report include:

   Percentages of those warrants outstanding that were executed and withdrawn varied in each area –
    execution rates ranged from 5% to 62%, for example, and withdrawal rates ranged from 0% to 63%.

   Based on available data, 44% of the defendants who appeared in court during Turn-up were prosecuted
    for the Bail Act offence, and 65% of those prosecuted for the offence were convicted on that occasion, in
    line with the January 2004 Practice Direction on Bail.

   Thirty-six per cent of those convicted of a Bail Act offence during Turn-up received either a custodial
    sentence or community penalty.

   Data provided suggests that at a national level 48% of defendants who appeared at court following an
    FTA warrant execution were re-bailed.


Even when taken solely in terms of the numbers of FTA warrants executed and withdrawn outlined above,
Turn-up can be judged to have been a successful venture. However, these numbers alone do not fully
reflect the hard work that went into delivering the blitz in each local area, the new relationships forged across
agencies at a national and local level, and the new high profile of FTA warrants on the criminal justice
agenda, supported by new targets for FTA warrant enforcement.

The Turn-up final report therefore summarises not only the quantitative results from the blitz but also the
qualitative outcomes, such as the successful local media campaigns, the new intelligence gathered and
contacts made, and the improvements in local processes that will remain in place from now on.


Section 4 of the Turn-up report highlights detailed next steps on FTA warrant enforcement that might be
seen to address some of the issues captured by the central Turn-up team. These learning points can be
summarised as follows:

       A national template for a joint working protocol should be developed.
       Training for police officers making their first identification of defendants should be improved.
       Work should be undertaken to identify how access to information held by DWP and the Inland
        Revenue can be provided, and what the costs and benefits of this would be.
       An improved process is needed for how details of current prison inmates can efficiently be checked
        against outstanding FTA warrants.
       A national protocol should be developed on out of area warrants, endorsed by ACPO and HMCS
        and adopted by all forces and courts in England and Wales.
       A standard template should be developed to be used nationally for inter-force and inter-court
        requests to execute warrants.

                                                   3                                    GDC11 (a)
       Data on court outcomes should be routinely collected, and quick and efficient access to this data
        should be provided in order to assess patterns and trends in the treatment of Bail Act offences
       Work is needed to develop a consistent approach to the monitoring of trials in absence.
       Guidance being provided to magistrates on the sentencing of Bail Act offences needs to be reviewed
       National guidance should be developed on appropriate training for police on the completion of MG6
        and MG7 forms.
       National guidance should be developed on the implementation of the Practice Direction on Bail.


Finally, in addition to the learning points outlined in the report, there are also some higher level, thematic
lessons that may inform work in this area over the next year:

       Firstly, the results outlined in this report cannot accurately be used to predict target performance this
        year. The data captured in this report represents the result of extra work and commitment on the
        part of local champions and their delivery teams – additional resource to support the blitz was
        available in very few areas. The results are extremely encouraging, but they do not suggest that this
        level of activity can be sustained as part of business as usual. Performance at this level would
        require additional investment.

       In a similar vein, a number of local areas pulled out all the stops to deliver Turn-up, but were left with
        more warrants outstanding in March 2005 than they started with. This can potentially be attributed to
        two key causes:
        a) because these areas did not execute as many warrants as they hoped (the assumption being
             that defendants are just as hard to locate during a dedicated blitz period as they were before);
        b) because as outlined above, the blitz approach did not address the early stages of the warrant
             issue process, and between the August 2004 and March 2005 measurement points FTA
             warrants have continued to be issued in significant numbers.
        What it illustrates is that a blitz approach alone will not address the issue of outstanding FTA
        warrants – as suspected at the beginning of Turn-up, and outlined further in the quantitative
        summary above, wider FTA warrant enforcement work needs to focus on longer term process
        improvements, and the hope is that these will be more achievable now that Turn-up has set this work
        in motion.

       Finally, it appears that there is a need for “customer segmentation” when it comes to defendants who
        have failed to appear. The success of surrender letters outlined in section 3 of the report indicates
        that there are defendants among the pool of outstanding warrants who can be reached by means of
        targeted communication rather than needing officers to actively bring them to court (although as
        audits of outstanding warrants in each area continue, these are perhaps likely to become fewer and
        fewer). Approaching these defendants in a different way from repeat offenders or those deliberately
        avoiding arrest may deliver process improvements at a national level, including freeing up more time
        for enforcement officers going out to execute warrants. The ACPO/CJS Warrant Priority Matrix
        should certainly begin to address this tailored approach, but there may well be a need to consider
        the idea further in the wider context of the National Enforcement Service.

Bearing these findings in mind, the Turn-up final report suggests that a “Turn-up 2” blitz on FTA warrants
would not be an effective use of resources, and suggestions for what might have an impact in its place are
made in section 5.3 of the full version. What the report does highlight, however, is how Turn-up has
generated momentum on FTA warrants that should continue to be exploited as new programmes of work
continue to be delivered.

                                                  4                                      GDC11 (a)