Dyfed-Powys PEEL 2015
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
HMIC found that Dyfed-Powys Police is partly prepared to face its future financial challenges. It is improving its understanding of the demands on its services and is currently able to respond to all crimes. It is investing in technology to increase efficiency. However HMIC is concerned that as resources reduce in the future, the force has not made enough progress in planning how it will be able to continue providing effective policing with fewer staff, nor how it will deal with some of the financial uncertainties it faces. In last year’s value for money inspection programme, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, Dyfed-Powys Police was judged to be good.
HMIC judges Dyfed-Powys Police to require improvement. The force currently has the resources to meet demand and is able to attend every crime. However future reductions in police officer numbers will require the force to understand the future demand for its services better and manage its resources more efficiently.
HMIC is impressed by the ambition of Dyfed-Powys Police’s approach to using new technology in order to improve efficiency and provide better services.
Dyfed-Powys Police has, since 2010, managed its savings with a very small reduction in the number of police officers. It has changed the way it provides frontline policing very little over this period. However, HMIC is concerned that despite planning further reductions in police officer and staff numbers, the force has not yet developed a future workforce model. Changes to the size of the workforce have been driven by finance rather than by the organisational requirements. The force had a technology programme in place to support the workforce plan; however, future change plans were not well developed as the force’s understanding of demand and resource profiling was not developed sufficiently to inform these plans. It is not clear how the force will continue to manage the budget reductions required and maintain effective policing.
The force has a good track record of achieving savings to date but the plans for anticipated savings beyond 2015/16 are undeveloped. In addition, HMIC is concerned that there are a number of risks and uncertainties about future income for Dyfed-Powys Police which may mean it has under-estimated the future savings needed and the force has not made any contingency plans to address these risks.
How well does the force use its resources to meet its demand?
Dyfed-Powys Police has recognised the importance of having a better understanding of demand in order to ensure that resources can be most efficiently used to prioritise and respond to demand. It has developed a new approach to analysing demand, which it hopes will provide a much improved understanding of its demand.
The force is one of the few nationally that still sends a police response to all crimes. Demand for police services across Dyfed-Powys is comparatively low but decisions on levels of resourcing needed are not only driven by demand but also by the need to provide visible and effective policing across a very large, predominantly rural force area. The force recognises it needs to do more to manage demand better.
The force has a strong focus on the victim’s perspective of police services, although there is a more limited understanding of the relationship between costs of services and the outcomes they achieve.
HMIC is impressed by the ambition of Dyfed-Powys Police’s approach to using new technology in order to improve efficiency and provide better services. The force has invested significantly in developing digital policing.
How sustainable and affordable is the workforce model?
Since 2010, Dyfed-Powys Police has managed its savings with a very small reduction in the number of police officers. It has changed the way it provides frontline policing very little over this period. The force has reduced the number of police staff providing support services by a much larger proportion than other forces. It has achieved this reduction by setting up a business support unit, which brings together all of the previously separate support functions, including finance and HR. Staff are expected to work across a range of different support roles, rather than in specialist teams.
However, HMIC found that this new unit is not yet operating either effectively or efficiently. The number of staff has reduced but the force has neither the processes nor the staff with the breadth of skills required.
The force has not yet developed a future workforce model. There are projected staffing reductions which have been identified as those required to balance the budget over the next four years. Changes to the size of the workforce have been driven by finance, rather than by the organisational requirements. The force has limited change plans. It is not clear how the force will continue to manage the budget reductions required and maintain effective policing.
Areas for improvement
- The force should review its business support unit to ensure staff have the appropriate training and skills to enable the unit to function as intended.
- 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.
How sustainable is the force’s financial position for the short and long term?
Dyfed-Powys Police has a good track record of achieving the required savings throughout the spending review with a very small reduction in police officer numbers. However the force has underspent against its budget each year by a considerable margin, including in 2014/15. This underspend indicates that there has been some lack of understanding as to the current cost of policing and the phasing of savings.
The force has set a balanced budget for 2015/16 despite cuts in both government funding and the council tax precept. It has plans to find the savings needed this year. The force collaborates with the other southern Wales forces to provide more efficient and resilient services in a range of areas. The force works well with the police and crime commissioner; plans are developed jointly to direct resources at priority areas.
The plans for how the force will achieve savings beyond 2015/16 are not well developed. Savings will accrue from not replacing staff when they leave, but there are no plans as to when or where these staffing cuts will fall or what the impact will be on the force’s ability to provide effective, sustainable policing. In addition HMIC is concerned that there are a number of risks and uncertainties about future income for Dyfed-Powys Police which may mean it has underestimated the future savings needed.
Areas for improvement
- The force should develop clear and realistic plans for achieving the likely savings required beyond 2015/16. The plans should include a review of its assumptions about precept and grant income in conjunction with the office of the police and crime commissioner, ensuring that there are adequate contingency plans to address any risks and uncertainties.