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Gwent PEEL 2014

Efficiency

How well the force delivers value for money

Last updated 12/11/2014
Requires improvement

It is important and necessary that Gwent Police develops plans to improve the force in a way that not only provides an effective service for the public, but is affordable within its projected income.

In May 2014, HMIC inspected Gwent Police as part of the value for money inspection programme. The findings at the time of this inspection are contained in the following four paragraphs.

Gwent has plans in place to achieve almost all the savings required for the spending review period. However, plans for dealing with the savings requirements for the future are undeveloped. In 2015/16, the force has a savings requirement of £9.2m with current planned savings of £5.1m, leaving a current budget gap of £4.1m in that financial year. While Gwent intends to use some reserves, there are currently no plans to find the additional recurring savings, other than through the loss of staff. The force has made disappointing progress since last year and faces some significant risks in the future if it does not develop plans to structure the provision of policing services within budget.

The force does not have a sufficiently detailed understanding of the demand it faces and therefore cannot effectively make best use of its resources to meet that demand. Savings plans to balance the budget are based principally on reducing the size of the workforce by not filling vacancies as they arise. However, this approach is taken without a full understanding about whether the reduced workforce has the required skills and rank mix, and can continue to provide effective policing.

Despite relatively small planned reductions in police officer numbers compared with England and Wales, and a big increase in the numbers of community support officers (CSOs), police performance has declined. Crime levels have increased over the last 12 months to March 2014, and success in crime detection and levels of victim satisfaction have both fallen.

HMIC is concerned that the force faces deteriorating performance, and in the absence of a credible plan to meet its savings requirement, risks further decline.

Due to the level of improvement required, HMIC revisited Gwent in October 2014 and found the force had made good progress. The force had carried out an initial assessment of demand and informed HMIC that this process will be repeated in November 2014 to develop its understanding further. A new operating model has been designed to deliver affordable policing which meets operational requirements. It is anticipated that this new way of working will be implemented in April 2015. In addition, the force has further developed its budget plan and is confident that the necessary savings can be achieved.

Issues in relation to victim satisfaction and performance remain. However, the force outlined plans to address these issues, including the implementation of a victims’ hub.

HMIC remains concerned that the force has a considerable amount of change to implement in a short period of time, but the early progress the force has made provides some reassurance.

Questions for Efficiency

1

To what extent is the force efficient?

To what extent is the force efficient?

In May 2014, HMIC inspected Gwent as part of the Policing in Austerity inspection programme. The findings at the time of this inspection are contained in the following three paragraphs.

Gwent has a limited understanding of the demand the force faces. It has not carried out any comprehensive demand analysis since 2009. Without this understanding the force cannot be confident that it is using its resources in the most efficient way.

In the 12 months to March 2014, recorded crime levels have increased in the Gwent force area; notably there has been an increase in crimes involving violence. At the same time, the force’s level of victim satisfaction has fallen.

HMIC is concerned that the force faces deteriorating performance and, in the absence of a credible plan to meet its savings requirement, risks further decline.

Due to the level of improvement required, HMIC revisited Gwent in October 2014 and found the force had made good progress. The force had carried out an initial assessment of demand and informed HMIC that this process will be repeated in November 2014 to develop their understanding further. A new operating model has been designed to deliver affordable policing which meets operational requirements. It is anticipated that this new way of working will be implemented in April 2015. In addition, the force has further developed its budget plan and is confident that the necessary savings can be achieved.

 

Requires improvement
2

To what extent is the force taking steps to ensure a secure financial position for the short and long term?

To what extent is the force taking steps to ensure a secure financial position for the short and long term?

Gwent needs to find £3.7m savings in 2014/15; it has clear plans in place to achieve most of this and will use reserves to meet any shortfall.

In 2015/16 it requires saving of £9.2m with plans for £5.1m. While the force intends to use some reserves, there are currently no plans to find the additional recurring savings, other than through the loss of staff.

The plans for dealing with savings requirements beyond 2016 are underdeveloped and it is not clear how the force will achieve future savings needed while maintaining effective policing.

HMIC is concerned that in the absence of sustainable plans for the future the force will balance its budget by not replacing staff as they leave. It is likely that such an approach will mean that the force will not be able to maintain effective levels of service for the public in Gwent.

When HMIC reinspected the force in October it had further developed its budget plan. While elements of this plan were at an early stage they were underpinned by prudent assumptions and the force is confident that the necessary savings can be achieved. Following the reinspection, HMIC has greater confidence in the force’s financial plans.

Requires improvement
3

To what extent has the force got an affordable way of providing policing?

To what extent has the force got an affordable way of providing policing?

There are some areas of progress in Gwent’s approach to affordable provision of policing. In particular, the force continues to make good use of collaboration with other Welsh forces and local partners to get better value for money; there has been a positive cultural change across the organisation and, the increased proportion of police officers on the front line is also encouraging.

It is also encouraging that the force is intending to carry out work on demand and workforce modelling: it is hoped that this will allow the force to develop a strategy for matching demand with resources in the future.

However, HMIC is concerned that the force’s change plans are mainly based on reducing the workforce by not replacing staff as they leave. While this may achieve most of the savings needed, the force cannot evaluate the impact of the job losses on the service or be confident that it will result in a model that can provide effective policing in Gwent.

While the force is planning to lose fewer police officers than most other forces in England and Wales over the spending review period, the gap in the force’s savings plans means that this is not likely to be sustained beyond 2015. Further staffing reductions will prove necessary in order to balance future budgets.

It is imperative that the force develops a structure which is sustainable and affordable going forward, and which continues to protect vital crime fighting roles.

HMIC found in its re-inspection in October that the force had made good progress in developing an operating model, designed to protect the front line and improve victim satisfaction, which is affordable in the medium term and scalable for the future. The force now has to move from developing the plan to implementing considerable change in a short period of time.

 

Requires improvement