CCRC held its first open Board meeting yesterday, Tuesday 24th November.
The online meeting was held on Zoom and attended by members of the public as well as several members of CCRC staff and Commissioners and representatives of the Scottish CCRC.
Its purpose was to increase transparency of CCRC business and to give stakeholders, or any interested members of the public, the opportunity to observe a business as usual CCRC Board meeting. It was open to all and publicised via twitter.
When the formal minutes of the meeting are approved at the next Board meeting due on 26th January 2021, they will be published alongside earlier Board minutes here at ccrc.gov.uk/ccrc-board-minutes/
Here is a summary of the main issues covered at the meeting:
The impact of Covid-19 on the CCRC
With all the challenges of Covid-19, the organisation is doing remarkably well. We responded by changing practices and equipping all staff to work from home with a relatively small number coming into the office to work in a Covid-safe environment. Casework performance has been excellent with investigations, casework decisions and referrals continuing throughout. Sixty cases have been referred for appeal since the start of April 2020, including 47 Post Office cases and the CCRC’s 750th referral; an interesting and unusual case involving an alternative suspect identified following a hit on the National DNA Database.
The number of applications received each month since the start of the pandemic has fluctuated widely, but overall there have been fewer applications than in the same period last year; this has allowed us to focus some resource elsewhere such as on long running cases. CCRC continues to explore ways to ensure that people in prison can make applications to us if they need to in spite of Covid-19 related restrictions in prison.
IT Transformation at the CCRC
Some major elements of the ongoing IT Transformation programme at the CCRC had been delivered in recent weeks including launch of, and staff training for, a new Case Management System, telephone system and intranet. Other elements, including a new website, HR and finance systems, will follow shortly. The overall project is within budget and ahead of schedule. Several Board members thanked the project teams and other staff involved. The Commission is already reaping benefits in terms of efficiency and performance. It is expected that more benefits will flow in the near future when the capability of the new systems is further exploited.
The Commission’s budget was around one per cent overspent for the year so far. The overspend relates largely to costs of adapting to Covid-19. The first seven months of the financial year included Covid-related spend of more than £100k which is not expected to reoccur in the last five months of the year and Commission expects to reduce the overspend by the end of the financial year at 31st March 2021.