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Dorset PEEL 2015

Efficiency

How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 20/10/2015
Requires improvement

HMIC found that Dorset Police is partly prepared to face its future financial challenges, and judges that its approach to providing efficient policing requires improvement overall. The force has achieved all of the savings required to date and is working hard to improve its position through an alliance with Devon and Cornwall Police. However, HMIC remains concerned that Dorset Police’s long-term financial position might increasingly make it difficult to sustain effective policing. For this reason, it cannot be judged as good. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, Dorset was judged to be good.

HMIC judges Dorset Police to require improvement. Dorset Police has a good understanding of incident and call-related demand. It uses a variety of methods to assess demand for its services from the public, and to ensure that resources can be targeted at tackling priority areas. It works well with local partners in preventing and tackling local crime and anti-social behaviour hot spots.

The current workforce model has allowed the force to achieve the required savings to date, and is affordable and sustainable for the remainder of this financial year. However, the force has recognised that, as resources continue to reduce, changes to its direction and priorities might be required in order to meet future demand from the public. The force had previously made significant cuts ahead of the spending review in 2010. It was already a low spending force with fewer police officers per head than most other forces. However, further financial savings over the next three years are likely to require more reductions in police officer and staff numbers. HMIC is concerned that Dorset Police does not yet have clear plans in place to make these staffing cuts. Nor is it clear what impact this level of cuts will have on the force’s ability to continue to meet its demand in the future.

Dorset Police has demonstrated a keen commitment to working collaboratively with neighbouring Devon and Cornwall Police in order to make the most efficient use of joint resources. However, future savings are heavily dependent upon the successful implementation of this alliance, with significant savings required within a relatively short timeframe.

After making all the planned savings, the force is still facing an anticipated funding gap of £4.6m by 2018/19. This is a significant concern, given that there is a high degree of uncertainty in relation to future income and expenditure, and particular risks associated with the timing of savings from implementation of the strategic alliance.

 

Questions for Efficiency

1

How well does the force use its resources to meet its demand?

Dorset Police has a good understanding of incident and call demand. It uses a variety of methods for assessing demand and aligning resources to threat, harm and risk. Dorset has seen consistent reductions in crime and anti-social behaviour over recent years.

The force has recognised that, as resources continue to reduce, changes to its direction and priorities may be required in order to meet future demand from the public.

Dorset Police has demonstrated a keen commitment to working collaboratively with neighbouring Devon and Cornwall Police in order to make efficient use of joint resources. The force also works well with local partners to provide a joint response to preventing and tackling local crime and anti-social behaviour.

The force has recognised the value and importance of making use of new technology to improve efficiency, and has invested in a range of technological solutions.

The force has a clear process to manage performance, which is aligned to the force’s control strategy and delivery plans.

The force has a good understanding of costs. Every year, it uses HMIC’s value for money profiles to compare the force against others to assess where efficiencies might be made. This analysis is then used to inform change plans and identify further savings.

Good
2

How sustainable and affordable is the workforce model?

The current workforce model has allowed the force to achieve the savings required to date, and is affordable and sustainable for the remainder of this financial year. However, further financial savings are needed over the next three years, which may require more reductions in police officer and staff numbers. HMIC is concerned that Dorset Police does not yet have clear plans in place to make these staffing cuts. Nor is it clear what impact this level of cuts will have on the force’s ability to continue to provide effective policing.

Plans for the workforce model beyond 2015/16 are heavily dependent on the prompt and effective implementation of the strategic alliance with Devon and Cornwall Police. HMIC has found little evidence of detailed combined workforce planning taking place between the two forces. Dorset Police has very limited financial contingency in place to cushion against any shortfall in savings achieved. There is clear risk that, should there be any delays in the strategic alliance plan, the savings needed by Dorset Police will not be achieved in the timescale needed.

Requires improvement

Areas for improvement

  • The force should develop a future workforce plan that is aligned to its overall demand and budget. The plan should include future resource allocations, the mix of skills required by the workforce and behaviours expected of them.
3

How sustainable is the force’s financial position for the short and long term?

The force has cut its spending by the required amount over the last spending review period. It has set a balanced budget, but has faced significant pressures for this financial year to make the further savings needed.

There are good governance systems and financial controls in place, and the force’s financial plans reflect and are based on the objectives set out in the Police and Crime Plan. The force chief finance officer works closely and constructively with the police and crime commissioner’s (PCC’s) finance officers.

HMIC is concerned that there are some key risks around Dorset Police’s future financial position. The force plans do not clearly show how a significant proportion of required savings over the next three years will be achieved.

Future savings are heavily dependent upon the successful implementation of the alliance with Devon and Cornwall Police. After making all the planned savings, the force is still facing an anticipated funding gap of £4.6m by 2018/19. There is a high degree of uncertainty in relation to future income and expenditure, with particular risks associated with the timing of savings from implementation of the strategic alliance.

Requires improvement

Areas for improvement

  • The force should develop clear and realistic plans for achieving the likely savings required beyond 2015/16.