Audit and Risk Committee Minutes - June 2020
- Simon Jeffreys: Non-Executive Board Member (Chair)
- Mark Hammond: Non-Executive Board Member
- Jenny Rowe: Non-Executive Independent Member
- Marta Phillips: Non-Executive Independent Member
- Rebecca Lawrence: Chief Executive Officer
- Max Hill QC: Director of Public Prosecutions
- Chris Sharp: Finance Director
- Stephen Dean: Grant Thornton
- Ameetab Ashok: Grant Thornton
- Chris Davis: Government Internal Audit Agency
- Matt Ellis: Government Internal Audit Agency
- Kevin McGinty: HMCPSI
- Steven Corbishley: National Audit Office
- Mohit Parmar: National Audit Office
- Mark Gray: Operations, Digital and Commercial Director
- Graham Dann: Financial Controller
- Jackie Ronchetti: Head of Security and Information Assurance Division
- Sophie Szuman: Assistant Private Secretary
Item 1: Declaration of Conflicts of interest
1. None raised.
Item 2: Minutes of the Last meeting and Matters arising
2. The minutes of the last meeting were agreed and progress was noted against outstanding actions.
Item 3: CPS Risk Management Update
3. Rebecca Lawrence, Chief Executive Officer, provided a high level overview on the scenario planning, information security deep dive and health and safety risks that had risen from COVID-19.
4. Chris Sharp, Finance Director highlighted the new top risks, and those that have been removed off the top risk register, as well as how the organisation conducted its conflict of interests return.
5. The Committee wanted assurance that disclosure was still being carefully monitored now that it is no longer on the top risks register. They were advised that since the implementation of the National Disclosure Improvement Plan (NDIP) Board, it is no longer at a stage for escalation to the Committee, but is still being monitored.
Item 4: COVID-19 Response
6. Chris Sharp, Finance Director, updated on the actions taken in light of covid-19, noting the gold and silver command structure that had been implemented. Max Hill QC, Director of Public Prosecutions commented that the current situation has allowed for unrivalled access across the CJS and with Ministers.
7. The Committee queried whether strategic issues get the coverage needed at the gold and silver command calls. Rebecca Lawrence, Chief Executive Officer reassured the Committee that there is buy in from across the CJS, and outlined further detail of gold conversations.
8. The Committee praised the CPS response to covid-19, and noted the excellent business continuity plans which positioned the CPS well to deal with the pandemic. The Committee commended the CPS for ensuring all staff are supported with their health and wellbeing at the forefront of the response.
Item 5: SIRO Sixth-Monthly Report into Unauthorised Disclosure
9. Jackie Ronchetti, Head of Security and Information assurance Division highlighted how the working relationship with the police can be further improved by the ability to have two way conversations on unauthorised disclosure.
10. The Committee queried whether the CPS had the capacity to be responsible for all disclosure and redaction in house, but agreed that this would be a considerable recruitment and ongoing cost to the CPS.
11. The Committee were reassured that the responsibility for the breaches was being managed so that senior grades of staff took responsibility for the breaches, and not only those that sent the unredacted documents. Jackie described the new training that has been implemented and activity planned around data protection month.
12. The Committee suggested a roundtable with police data protection colleagues in conjunction with the work on DG6 would be beneficial to identify problems between the two organisations.
Item 6: GIAA 2020-2021 Plan and Status Report
13. The Committee agreed to discuss the internal audit reports on Victims and Witnesses and Custody Time Limits and the October Committee. [ACTION J1]
14. Matt Ellis, Government Internal Audit Agency, assured the Committee that there were no anticipated changes to the report between now and it being laid in Parliament.
15. Matt Ellis commented that the CPS desire to move from a moderate rating to substantial is good, but can be difficult to compare improvement year on year. He advised that GIAA looked to move to more thematic analysis and to provide more detail in real time. Chris Davis recommended that good practice identified in areas should be replicated across the business to help the CPS move from moderate to substantial rating.
16. Matt Ellis thanked the senior leadership team for their keen engagement and support of GIAA work.
17. The Committee queried whether the coverage of audit is light on checks on routine finance. They were assured that there is a good balance struck, and it took into consideration the relatively simple structure and purpose of the department. GIAA confirmed that this area was not identified as a sufficient risk for assessment this year but that financial controls were re-visited regularly as part of their ongoing programme of audits.
Item 7: Internal Audit Recommendations Tracker
18. Chris Sharp, Finance Director, assured the Committee that the recommendations are being closed only when there is evidence to support the closure. He highlighted that several recommendations have arisen in light of covid-19, and several have been delayed in their closure due to covid-19. He noted that it was clear in the tracker where the deadlines were asked to be extended due to current circumstances and those that were now overdue.
19. The Committee agreed that the report is a fair outline of where the CPS currently stands, but highlighted the importance to differentiate where covid-19 is a genuine reason for an extension, and where it is being used as an excuse.
Item 8: CPS 2019-20 Annual Report and Accounts and Governance Statement
20. Chris Sharp, Finance Director provided an overview of the Annual Report and Accounts and thanked Graham Dann for his dedication in leading the work.
21. Chris Sharp highlighted the letter setting out the assurances in the production of the document that could be relied upon.
22. The Committee thanked Chris Sharp for a good quality report and agreed that it is an easy to read document and had a good balance of narrative and graphics, and contained clear definitions. The Committee confirmed they would send any editorial comments on the report direct to Chris Sharp and confirmed that they were content that, subject to the identified changes being made, the Board could sign the accounts.
Item 9: NAO Audit Completion Report
23. Steven Corbishley, National Audit Office, advised that the Committee had received a draft audit completion report as there are a few points to be refined.
24. One audit test to be completed relies on data from HMCTS, but due to the closures of courts from covid-19, this made collection of the sample data difficult. The NAO advised that this could cause a delay in the laying of the accounts.
25. The other is a technical review on some aspects of IFRS 9. The NAO assured the Committee that there was a good articulation in terms of impact on covid-19 on ability to recover debt, and should not become a material issue but they had asked their technical team to confirm they were also content.
26. Stephen Dean, Grant Thornton lead the Committee through the report, the Committee agreed on that certain areas can remain unadjusted.
27. The Committee agreed that they have no knowledge of fraud in the CPS.
28. Grant Thornton confirmed they remained independent as auditors and advised that their letter of representation had remained unchanged.
29. Steven Corbishley advised that due to additional considerations that needed to be made in relation to the impact of COVID-19 there was an increase of £10k to the audit fee.
30. The Committee agreed that once the report has been finalised, this will be presented to the Accounting Officers out of Committee.
Item 10: CPS Audit and Risk Committee Annual report
31. The Committee noted the content of the Committee annual report and highlighted two irregularities in the report to be edited.
Item 11: Any Other Business
32. Simon Jeffreys Chair of ARAC, shared that he contacted Paul Smith, Chair of ARAC at MOJ to introduce himself and requested that he attended future meetings of the CJS Chairs of ARACs.
Item 12: Closed discussion
33. The Committee held a closed session with both external and internal audit partners with no important matters arising.