South Yorkshire PEEL 2015
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
HMIC found that South Yorkshire Police is partly prepared to face its future financial challenges. The force has a good understanding of the demand on its services. It has balanced the budget and has a good track record of achieving savings with plans in place for future savings. However, HMIC has concerns that the force’s future plans and financial position may not be able to sustain effective policing in the long term. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, South Yorkshire was judged to be good.
HMIC judges South Yorkshire Police to require improvement. The force has successfully reduced its spending by £49m over the last spending review period and has plans in place to address further savings requirements. The force has a good understanding of the demand facing frontline policing and there is evidence of some new work with partners to better manage demand. There is clear workforce planning in place and the force is changing the way it delivers policing.
However, the current plans to reduce costs are reliant on fully implementing the new operating model for local policing, achieving efficiency gains from better use of new technology and better management of demand, together with ambitious plans for much greater collaboration with Humberside Police. The force expects the implementation of new technology through its partnership with Humberside Police to enable a reduced workforce to work more efficiently away from police stations. There can be no certainty that the force will achieve the necessary savings within the required timescale.
If these changes are implemented then the force will see a significant number of police staff leaving the organisation in a very short timescale. The force has not fully evaluated the impact of the anticipated workforce reductions on its ability to meet demand in the future and there is a risk the force will lose capability in specialist and support services.
South Yorkshire Police faces an uncertain financial position for the short and long term with continuing costs arising from the HiIlsborough inquest and investigations of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham. Its reserves provide only a limited cushion to manage these costs. The force recognises the risks presented to its long term financial plans but HMIC remains concerned that the force has not yet fully explored all available funding options for the medium and long term presented by a possible shortfall in its budget.
How well does the force use its resources to meet its demand?
The force has a good understanding of the demand on frontline policing services and is developing its understanding in other parts of the organisation. The change programme is leading the work into how current systems and processes can be improved and made more efficient. The findings have informed a decision to move towards a new operating model for local policing.
The force has effective systems to assess current demand and provide a flexible means of resourcing incidents and priorities. The force has responded well to an increase in demand in public protection by making large investments in resources to this area.
The force has changed a number of its processes to manage demand on its services better. There is a greater emphasis on resolving calls to the communications department without the need to send a police officer and increased use of appointments for officers to attend.
The force is making good use of technology, which it is further developing to enable frontline officers to be more efficient. The force has recognised the value of working with partners, particularly when dealing with vulnerable people to better manage demand.
How sustainable and affordable is the workforce model?
South Yorkshire Police has introduced a new operating model for local policing. Although not yet fully implemented, this places greater emphasis on delivering a more flexible policing service which employs new ways of working and makes greater use of new technology to enable officers to work more efficiently away from police stations.
However HMIC is concerned that there are a number of risks associated with the force’s workforce model and future plans.
The high workloads arising from investigations to protect vulnerable people are having an impact on the resilience of a number of areas across the force. The force is relying on the implementation of new technology through the partnership with Humberside Police. There can be no certainty that the proposed expansion of this alliance will achieve the savings within the timescale and at the level required.
The force has not fully evaluated the impact of the anticipated workforce reductions on its ability to meet future demand. The plans to reduce costs rely on a programme that will see a significant number of police staff leaving the organisation in a very short timescale. This presents a risk that the service will lose significant capability in specialist and support services.
Areas for improvement
- The force should assess the demand on the public protection unit to ensure there is adequate capacity and capability across the department to efficiently manage investigations. At the same time the force should ensure that it assesses and addresses the potential impact on other services to the public by moving staff into the public protection unit.
- The force should review the impact of the proposed police staff reductions to ensure any impact on specialist and support services is identified and managed.
How sustainable is the force’s financial position for the short and long term?
South Yorkshire Police faces an uncertain financial position. The force has a good track record of achieving savings and has maintained a sustainable position up to now with a balanced budget for 2015/16.
The force and police and crime commissioner have strong governance and oversight of the finances which clearly link to workforce plans and the change programme.
There are plans in place to meet future known savings requirements. The plans rely on savings being achieved through a combination of fully implementing the new operating model for local policing, efficiency gains from better use of new technology and better management of demand, together with ambitious plans for much greater collaboration with Humberside Police. There are significant risks in the force’s ability to achieve the necessary level of savings in the required timescale, particularly around collaboration.
HMIC has concerns in relation to the impact on the force’s financial sustainability associated with the continuing unknown future costs of the Hillsborough inquest and investigations of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, as the force has not yet fully explored all available funding options. The financial reserves will provide only a limited cushion against future contingencies.
The force and police and crime commissioner recognise the risks but HMIC remains concerned that the force has not fully explored all available funding options.
Cause of concern
The financial planning of the force in relation to its potential liabilities for the Hillsborough inquest and the Rotherham child sexual exploitation investigation is a cause of concern to HMIC because there is a failure to provide mitigation for future impact.
To address this cause for concern, HMIC recommends that:
The force’s plans on how it might meet all the potential financial risks associated with the ongoing costs arising from the ongoing Hillsborough and the Rotherham child sexual exploitation investigations should be more detailed.
Areas for improvement
- The force should create more detailed plans on the future savings that can be made from increased collaboration with Humberside Police.
- The force should evaluate the costs and benefits of its new operating model, including its impact on the force’s ability to effectively meet and manage demand.