Lincolnshire PEEL 2014
How well the force delivers value for money
Lincolnshire Police has demonstrated a good response in meeting its financial challenge over the spending review period, achieving substantial savings in extremely difficult circumstances. The force has the lowest workforce costs in England and Wales, and makes extensive use of collaboration and outsourcing to maximise efficiency. Its options to achieve future savings in this continuing era of austerity, without cutting its frontline workforce and eroding neighbourhood policing, are extremely limited.
Lincolnshire is on track to achieve its required savings of £20m over this spending review period, with plans in place to achieve further savings in 2015/16. It is a low income and efficient force, so faces a particularly difficult challenge. The force has made good progress in meeting its financial challenge. It has developed a detailed change programme which has allowed it to reduce costs while continuing to fight crime. It has now put in place a second major change programme which has three key elements: reducing demand on the front line, improving IT to make better use of police time, and changing the workforce mix. Over the next two years it is planning to maintain the front line and sustain service provision.
Despite this positive response, HMIC has concerns about the ability of the force to maintain its current level of service to the communities of Lincolnshire beyond 2016. Having taken decisive action to close the funding gap over the current spending review, the force has fewer options to achieve further savings.
The force estimates that these alone will not identify the savings required to meet the projected gap, but given the size of the funding shortfall, it is difficult to consider how the force can continue to provide local policing in the same way or provide the same level of service to the public in the future. We will continue to monitor progress closely.
To what extent is the force efficient?
Lincolnshire Police has a rigorous approach to analysing demand for response, investigative and neighbourhood teams. This includes working with other partners such as local councils. The force analyses demand received through its control room and uses a decision model to help staff to decide how best to resolve a call. The force has recently invested in its IT provision but the full benefits are yet to be realised.
To what extent is the force taking steps to ensure a secure financial position for the short and long term?
Lincolnshire Police faces a particularly difficult challenge as it already has very low costs, has a small workforce, and has either outsourced functions or collaborated with other forces in most areas of policing. The force has a good track record of achieving planned savings. It has clear plans to achieve savings in 2014/15 and achieve the £20m savings required over the spending review. Using a combination of savings and reserves, the force plans to achieve £2.1m savings in 2015/16. The force has two years to change the way it polices Lincolnshire so that it can achieve the savings required by 2017. It has already identified some limited opportunities to achieve savings; after that it may need to reduce its workforce. Lincolnshire has achieved the majority of its savings from non-pay costs.
To what extent has the force got an affordable way of providing policing?
The way the force provides policing has allowed it to meet its savings requirement while implementing the PCC’s priorities. The force has made extensive use of outsourcing and collaboration to contribute 31 percent of its savings – a significant achievement. The way the force currently provides policing is not adaptable for the savings forecast beyond 2016. The force will need to look beyond these arrangements; this is likely to result in reductions in police officer numbers. Lincolnshire achieved significant savings by reducing non-pay costs. It also increased the proportion of officers in frontline roles. This is commendable.