Grade characteristics

In our report, Policing in Austerity: Meeting the Challenge, we made a judgment as to the extent to which each force provides value for money in the context of current spending constraints. We rated each force in one of the following categories:

  • outstanding;
  • good;
  • requires improvement; or
  • inadequate.

The grade characteristics provide an indication of the expected levels of performance consistent with each grading. They are examples to help determine appropriate judgments. They are not intended to prescribe specific standards, or to be exhaustive lists of how forces are expected to perform at these levels.

In determining the grading for each of the questions, relevant context factors should be considered. These are set out below.

Contents

Grade characteristics: Is the force efficient?

Grade characteristics: Has the force a sustainable and affordable operating model?

Grade characteristics: Has the force got a secure financial position in the short and long term?

Context factors

Grade characteristics: Is the force efficient?

Outstanding

  • The force has carried out a systematic assessment of the demand, threat, risk and harm which it faces. This draws on a wide range of information and intelligence from a variety of sources and takes account of key factors, including national requirements.
  • The operating model has been designed to respond to the force’s assessment of demand, threat, risk, and harm. It is systematically evaluated and altered in response to any changes in the assessment and resources re-allocated accordingly.
  • The force has systematically considered its business support requirements and how these contribute to, and are aligned to support, effective operational activity.
  • The force is committed to prevention and engagement activity and it understands the contribution these make to performance. It has considered and allocated the resource requirements necessary to effectively support this activity.
  • The force understands and actively manages demand. It routinely uses preventative or targeted initiatives across its principal functions, closer working with partner agencies, process improvement and demand reduction activity. It can demonstrate that it has reduced unnecessary demand.
  • The force is proactive in assessing and ensuring the effectiveness of its resources by systematic process improvement, benchmarking, external challenge and using evidence led approaches (such as targeted patrol, predictive patrol, hot spotting, engagement and the use of technology).
  • The force is consistently proactive around reducing bureaucracy and regularly reviews its business processes empowering staff at all levels to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, and implementing change as a result.
  • The force has a comprehensive ICT strategy and implementation plan to ensure that it has the necessary technology across its main functions that has clear measurable benefits identified and tracked. This includes consideration of the opportunities of compatibility with other forces and the public sector.
  • The force has a robust procedure for holding area leads to account for operational and business performance, including value for money, and can demonstrate that it actively monitors and manages performance.
  • The public receives the highest levels of service in relation to crime reduction, satisfaction and outcomes.

Good

  • The force has carried out an assessment of the demand, threat, and risk and harm which it faces, covering most functions. This draws on a range of information and intelligence from a variety of sources and takes account of a range of key factors, including national requirements.
  • The force’s operating model has been broadly designed to respond to its assessment of demand, risk, harm and threat and is often evaluated and altered in response to any changes in the assessment, and resources reallocated accordingly.
  • The force has considered its business support requirements. These are mainly aligned to support effective operational activity.
  • The force is committed to prevention and engagement activity and it understands the contribution these make to performance. It has considered and mainly allocated the resource requirements necessary to effectively support this activity.
  • The force understands and is managing demand in most areas. It uses preventative or targeted initiatives across its principal functions, closer working with partner agencies, process improvement and demand reduction activity. It can demonstrate that it is mainly reducing unnecessary demand.
  • The force is broadly proactive in assessing and ensuring the effectiveness of its resources. The force frequently uses process improvement, benchmarking, challenge and evidence led approaches (such as targeted patrol, predictive patrol, hot spotting, engagement and the use of technology).
  • The force looks for opportunities to reduce bureaucracy and often reviews its business processes, looking for ways to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, and implementing change as a result.
  • The force has a wide ranging ICT strategy and implementation plan to ensure that it has the necessary technology across most functions to support effective service delivery. This includes some consideration of the opportunities of compatibility with other forces and the public sector, and also the financial benefits.
  • The force has good procedures for holding area leads to account for operational and business performance, including value for money, and can demonstrate that it actively monitors and manages performance.
  • The public receives good levels of service in relation to crime reduction, satisfaction and outcomes.

Requires improvement

  • The force has carried out only a limited assessment of the demand, threat, risk and harm which it faces OR the assessment lacks rigour with few information and intelligence sources and/or little/some recognition of national requirements.
  • Parts of the force’s operating model are aligned to its likely demand, threat, risk and harm, but there are opportunities to look at more areas. The operating model is not regularly reviewed and/or resources are not routinely moved to support its critical posts and functions.
  • The force has not fully assessed the business support requirements for the force or there are some gaps in its provision which impact on effective operational activity.
  • While the force is committed to prevention and engagement activity this is not fully translated into the allocation of resources in these areas.
  • The force’s understanding and active management of demand is limited. The force has made some attempts to reduce bureaucracy or to streamline and improve systems and processes or its attempts have been ineffective.
  • The force is developing an ICT strategy or implementation plan to ensure that it has the necessary technology across all functions to support effective service delivery.
  • The force’s procedure for holding area leads to account for performance, including value for money, is weak and there are opportunities for tighter control to drive improvement.
  • The levels of service to the public in relation to crime reduction, satisfaction and outcomes should be improved.

Inadequate

  • The force has little understanding of the demand, threat, risk and harm which it faces and the assessment lacks rigour with few information and intelligence sources or recognition of national requirements.
  • Little or none of the force’s operating model is aligned to its likely demand, threat, risk and harm. The force has been resistant to change. The force has little or no understanding of its critical posts and functions and does not demonstrate awareness of its national responsibilities.
  • The force has not considered the business support requirements for the force or there are significant gaps which impact on effective operational activity.
  • The force is not committed to prevention and engagement activity and there are few or limited allocation of resources to these.
  • The force’s understanding and active management of demand is limited. The force has made little or no attempts to reduce bureaucracy or to streamline and improve systems and processes.
  • The force does not have a comprehensive and ambitious ICT strategy or implementation plan to ensure that it has the necessary technology across all functions to support its ambitions and effective service delivery.
  • The force’s procedure for holding area leads to account for performance, including value for money is unsubstantial and has missed opportunities to drive improvement or correct performance.
  • The public receives a poor level of service in relation to crime reduction, satisfaction and outcomes.

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Grade characteristics: Has the force a sustainable and affordable operating model?

Outstanding

  • The force has a highly effective approach to driving reductions in non pay costs so as to protect frontline policing and necessary support functions and can demonstrate that significant savings have been achieved. The force understands the principal areas of spend and can demonstrate significant reductions in these and improving quality of service.
  • The force has developed an operating model that will meet the requirements of the Police and Crime Plan and other assessed demands. The operating model is fully developed, resourced and affordable within the force’s budget and scalable against future savings requirements. There is full understanding of the levels of performance the model delivers, including the impact of changes in resource inputs. Where the operating model is being revised or changed, key plans, in particular savings, workforce and budget plans, are fully coordinated.
  • The force has a strong commitment to collaboration that exploits the benefits it can bring, including a consideration of the wider benefits to other forces and to policing. The force can demonstrate that it is highly ambitious in its approach and has explored across all functions the opportunities collaboration can bring with a clear evidence base to progress or not to progress collaboration opportunities. Collaboration opportunities are systematically evaluated in terms of outcomes and efficiency savings as part of all organisational reviews.
  • The force has a strong commitment to continuous improvement to drive cost reduction and improve performance, and this is embedded across the force and at all levels. The benefits delivered through this approach are clear, as well as performance improvement and reduced costs.
  • Cultural change is a continuous process within the force that uses the organisational values with a clearly linked programme of development. The force delivers a programme of activity which supports the identified change and regular use is made of diagnostic tools (such as staff surveys, engagement and feedback activity, monitoring of well being) to assess progress. The force has a proactive communication strategy using a variety of channels to ensure that staff are engaged and understand the rationale for change. The force takes steps to ensure that its messaging is understood and there are feedback loops so that chief officers are aware staff opinions/concerns across the organisation.

Good

  • The force has an effective approach to driving reductions in non pay costs. This approach protects frontline policing and necessary support functions and can demonstrate savings proportionate with others, in particular other police forces. The force understands the principle areas of spend and can demonstrate savings in these, proportionate with others, in particular other police forces, while maintaining quality of service.
  • The force has developed an operating model that will meet most of the requirements of the Police and Crime Plan and most other assessed demands. The operating model is being embedded/implemented, and is affordable within the force’s budget and scalable against future savings requirements. There is a good understanding of the levels of performance the model delivers, including the impact of changes in resource inputs. Where the operating model is being revised or changed, key plans, in particular savings, workforce and budget plans, are broadly coordinated.
  • The force has a commitment to collaboration that exploits the benefits it can bring including a consideration of the wider benefits to other forces and to policing. The force can demonstrate that it is ambitious in its approach and has explored the opportunities for collaboration across most functions. Collaboration opportunities are systematically evaluated as part of most organisational reviews.
  • The force is using continuous improvement to drive cost reduction and improve performance. The approach is being used in a range of projects, programmes and main areas of focus. It is effective in delivering performance improvement and reduced costs.
  • The force has identified the cultural change necessary to support effective service delivery. It is developing/putting in place a programme of activity which supports this change and makes some use of diagnostic tools (such as staff surveys, engagement and feedback activity, monitoring of well being) to assess progress. The force uses a variety of channels to communicate the rationale for change although there are opportunities for this to be further developed. The force undertakes some steps to ensure that its messaging is understood and has mechanisms for feedback. Chief officers are broadly aware of staff opinions/concerns across the organisation.

Requires improvement

  • The force is not bearing down or delivering reductions in non pay costs so greater savings are necessary in frontline policing and essential support functions. While the force understands the principle areas of spend, it has achieved lower reductions than others, in particular other forces, or there has been an impact on quality of service.
  • The force has developed an operating model that will meet most of the requirements of the Police and Crime Plan and some other assessed demands. The operating model does not meet the requirements of the Police and Crime Plan and/or is not affordable within the force’s budget or is not scalable against future savings requirements. The force does not have a wide understanding of the levels of performance the model delivers nor the impact of changes in resource inputs. Where the operating model is being revised or changed, key plans, in particular savings, workforce and budget plans, are not being coordinated.
  • The force has demonstrated a limited commitment to collaboration and is not exploiting all the benefits it can bring, including a consideration of the wider benefits to other forces and to policing. The force lacks ambition in its approach and there are few functions where the opportunities for collaboration have been fully explored. Collaboration opportunities are not routinely evaluated as part of organisational reviews.
  • The force demonstrates a limited use of continuous improvement to drive out cost reduction and improve performance. The approach is used occasionally within the organisation. Its effectiveness in delivering performance improvement and reduced costs is limited.
  • The force has little understanding of the cultural change necessary to support effective service delivery. It makes little use of diagnostic tools such as staff surveys, monitoring of well being or undertakes systematic engagement and feedback activity. Staff are not well informed on the rationale for change and there are few opportunities for feedback to be provided so that Chief officers are aware of opinions/concerns across the organisation.

Inadequate

  • The force is not driving reductions in non pay costs. As a result there is a disproportionate focus of savings from frontline policing and essential support functions.
  • The force’s operating model does not meet the requirements of the Police and Crime Plan and other assessed demands. The operating model is neither affordable within the force’s budget nor scalable against future savings requirements. There is no understanding of the levels of performance the model delivers, including the impact of changes in resource inputs. Where the operating model is being revised or changed, key plans (in particular savings, workforce and budget plans) conflict.
  • The force’s approach to collaboration lacks a sound basis or robustness of business case. As a result it is missing the benefits it can bring either for itself or the wider benefits to policing. The force lacks ambition in its approach and there is little or no assessment of the scope for collaboration.
  • Continuous improvement is not seen as a practical or effective tool. As a result, the force is not using continuous improvement to drive cost reduction or improve performance.
  • The force has not considered the cultural change necessary to support effective service delivery. It does not make use of diagnostic tools such as staff surveys, monitoring of well being or undertakes systematic engagement and feedback activity. Staff are not well informed on the rationale for change and feedback is not routinely sought. Chief officers have limited understanding of the opinions/concerns across the organisation.

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Grade characteristics: Has the force got a secure financial position in the short and long term?

Outstanding

  • The force has comprehensively assessed the size of the financial challenge in 2014/15 and 2015/16. It also has an understanding of the developing challenge beyond based on robust, realistic and prudent assumptions, which capture the wider external environment.
  • Information about the force’s challenge and savings plans is shared with the workforce, and staff have a full understanding of the challenge.
  • The force has identified and has robust plans to balance its budget, which includes contingency options. The force has an excellent track record of robust financial management, accurate budgeting and delivering planned savings. It has considered and is exploiting opportunities for income generation and funding opportunities.
  • The force has considered areas of funding risk such as the loss of partnership funding and changes to the funding formula, and has developed robust contingencies to manage any risks.
  • Budget allocations demonstrate that the force has a strong commitment to supporting the priorities set out in the Police and Crime Plan and delivering the force’s ambitions.
  • The force and OPCC have a strong and effective working relationship with a shared understanding of the financial position. This is supported by open and transparent communication between the force and OPCC around current plans and current expenditure monitoring as well as longer term options for further cost reduction.
  • Force controls around expenditure are very robust and the force is highly effective at monitoring expenditure. The force manages short term and unplanned financial pressures and is consistently proactive at scanning for, and taking swift action to mitigate, risks.
  • The force has a very strong commitment to effective financial management, with financial professionals embedded in the senior leadership team and a strong relationship between the finance, HR, asset based and corporate development departments. The force has the senior police leadership and the qualified and experienced financial capacity and capability to ensure it can effectively respond to its financial challenge and ensure effective service delivery.
  • The force has undertaken detailed scenario planning for future spending reductions. It is developing plans and options so that it can respond in a timely way to these future savings challenges. It has drawn learning and expertise from other sectors, partners or academia.

Good

  • The force has assessed the size of the financial challenge in 2014/15 and 2015/16, and has some understanding of the developing challenge beyond, based on realistic and prudent assumptions.
  • Information about the force’s challenge and savings plans is shared with the workforce, and staff have an understanding of the current funding challenge with some awareness of future challenges.
  • The force has identified and has plans in place to balance its budget, which include some contingency options for the future. The force has a good track record of robust financial management, accurate budgeting and delivering planned savings. It has considered and is exploiting some opportunities for income generation and funding opportunities.
  • The force has considered areas of funding risk such as the loss of partnership funding and changes to the funding formula and has some contingencies to manage any risks.
  • Budget allocations demonstrate that the force has a commitment to supporting the priorities set out in the Police and Crime Plan and delivering most of the force’s ambitions.
  • The force and OPCC have an effective working relationship with a shared understanding of the financial position. Communication between the force and OPCC is broadly open and transparent around current plans and expenditure monitoring as well as longer term options for further cost reduction. This is developing rather than an embedded relationship.
  • The force controls and monitors expenditure. Generally the force manages short term and unplanned financial pressures and is consistently proactive at scanning for, and taking swift action to mitigate, risks.
  • The force has a commitment to effective financial management, with positive contributions by financial professionals to inform the senior leadership team, and good relationships between the finance, HR and corporate development departments. The force broadly has the senior police leadership and financial capacity and capability to ensure it can effectively respond to its financial challenge and ensure effective service delivery.
  • The force is undertaking some planning for future spending reductions. It is in the early stages of developing these as well as potential plans and options so that it can respond timely to these future savings challenges. It is drawing on some learning and expertise from other sectors, partners or academia.

Requires improvement

  • While the force has assessed the financial challenge it has not looked at in any detail 2015/16 or beyond. Its assumptions are not robust and are likely to prove unrealistic and /or previous assumptions have proven not to have been accurate.
  • Information about the force’s challenge and savings plans is not widely shared with the workforce and/or staff have limited understanding of the challenge.
  • The force has failed to fully deliver prior savings plans and does not have a good track record or robust financial controls. The force has not considered areas of funding risk e.g. loss of partnership funding, changes to the funding formula or has contingencies to manage any risks. It has not considered or is exploiting opportunities for income generation and funding opportunities.
  • Budget allocations do not fully support the priorities set out in the Police and Crime Plan and delivering the forces’ ambitions.
  • There is weak working relationship between the force and OPCC with limited shared understanding of the financial position. This is evidenced by poor communication between the force and OPCC around current plans and current expenditure monitoring as well as longer term options for further cost reduction.
  • Force controls around expenditure are very weak and there are gaps in the way the force monitors expenditure. There is weak evidence that the force manages short term and unplanned financial pressures with limited proactive scanning for, and taking swift action to mitigate, risks.
  • There is a weak commitment to effective financial management, financial professionals are not embedded in the senior leadership team nor contributes directly to key strategic decisions. There is poor communication and different perspective seen between finance, HR and corporate development departments.
  • There are key gaps in the force’s senior police leadership and financial capacity and capability to ensure it can effectively respond to its financial challenge and ensure effective service delivery.
  • The force has undertaken limited or little scenario planning for future spending reductions. It is not progressing plans and options so that it can respond timely to these future savings challenges.

Inadequate

  • The force has not assessed the size of the financial challenge in 2015/16, or has little/no understanding of the developing challenge beyond. The assumptions used by the force to calculate the size of the financial challenge in 2014/15 and 2015/16 are unrealistic.
  • Information about the force’s challenge and savings plans is not widely shared with the workforce and staff have little no understanding of the challenge.
  • The force has outstanding funding gaps and no clear plans as to how it will address this. It has a poor track record on delivering planned savings or is reliant on vacancies to balance budgets year on year. The force has poor financial controls and management. It has not considered opportunities for income generation or pursued funding opportunities.
  • The force has not considered areas of funding risk such as the loss of partnership funding, and changes to the funding formula, and/or has not developed contingencies to manage any risks.
  • Budget allocations do not support, or conflict with, the priorities set out in the Police and Crime Plan or the force’s ambitions.
  • The force and OPCC have a poor or ineffective working relationship Information, is not shared, there are different views of the current and future financial position, conflicts in the options for future cost reduction, and tensions in expenditure monitoring.
  • Force controls on expenditure are weak and the force is ineffective at monitoring expenditure. The force does not manage short term and unplanned financial pressures and is consistently reactive at managing risks.
  • The relationship between the finance, HR and corporate development departments is very weak. The three areas are uncoordinated and are not making an effective contribution to corporate leadership and decision making. Finance professionals within the force are excluded from the senior leadership team.
  • Gaps in senior leadership and financial capacity and capability may impact on the force’s ability to respond to financial challenge and ensure effective service delivery.
  • The force has undertaken limited or no scenario planning for future spending reductions; as a result there are limited plans or options for achieving future savings.

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Context factors

These factors will be considered in the moderating process and may affect the grading judgment.

Funding

  • Size of the savings requirement
  • Historical precept position prior to spending review
  • Precept position during spending review
  • Impact of council tax freeze grants
  • Reliance on central funding relative to local funding
  • Size of reserves going into spending review

Costs/efficiency

  • Costs per head of population
  • Costs of police officers per head of population
  • Costs of police staff per head of population
  • Costs of PCSO per head of population

Police and Crime Plan

  • Impact of funding and other requirements of the police and crime plan

Demand

  • Crimes per head of population
  • Change in crime over spending review
  • Call demand
  • Scale of threat, harm and risk

Local factors

  • Other relevant factors considered relevant by the HMI not covered in the above

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