Northamptonshire PEEL 2016
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Northamptonshire Police has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. It is taking steps to understand current and future demand better and is developing tools to allow effective monitoring of changes in demand. The force is developing its understanding of hidden demand. While it sets great store on the opportunities for savings and efficiencies from the use of information communication technology (ICT) and closer collaboration with other forces, its future planning needs to be strengthened.
Northamptonshire Police has improved the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime since HMIC’s 2015 inspection, although its planning for demand in the future requires improvement. The force has a good understanding of its current demand based on a range of data and a detailed policing model capable of providing relatively complex analysis. In collaboration with forces in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire, and working with the College of Policing and academia, the force is developing tools to allow effective monitoring of changes in demand. It is developing its understanding of crime less likely to be reported, and has identified domestic violence and child abuse as concerns in the region. The force has done a great deal of work with partners to understand how the community is changing and to manage demand collectively with partners. It realises that it also needs to engage with harder-to-reach groups to prepare for changes in demand.
The force is good at using its resources to manage current demand. It has revised its service delivery model to focus on demand and has taken the opportunity of the redesign to try and identify inefficient processes. Good analytical tools are in place to help identify where costs can be reduced and to model the impact of any changes to its processes. The force has good processes in place to ensure benefits are realised from change programmes, and that potential negative impacts are identified and limited. It makes sensible decisions about how to deploy resources. For example, its demand model showed that cyber-crime was creating more demand than could be resourced so the force moved staff from other areas, and also used suitably qualified and vetted volunteers with specialist skills, to bolster its capability. The force has undertaken a skills audit and analysed every role in its workforce so it can map the impact of changes. However, it could do more to understand the non-operational skills in its workforce. The force collaborates effectively to reduce costs and improve efficiency. It has good joint working arrangements with other forces in the region, collaborating over armed response, roads policing and dogs services with three other forces and sharing an ICT governance board with four other forces. It works very closely with the fire service, especially on public safety and in arson investigations, and shares premises at several locations. It also works closely with local authorities in Northamptonshire, sharing a safeguarding lead on issues such as female genital mutilation, interpersonal violence and modern slavery.
Northamptonshire Police’s plans for demand in the future require improvement. The force’s budget is based on assumptions it expects to change. Although it is developing an ICT strategy as part of a collaboration with the forces in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire and it has some individual ICT projects (such as agile working, body-worn video, hand-held devices and video calling), it has no clear ICT strategy of its own. There is no clear link between ICT and workforce plans. The force does not have a clear investment strategy and decisions have been made without a clear overall aim.
During our inspection some concerns were raised with HMIC about the arrangements for a move to a new police headquarters. HMIC is looking further into the circumstances relating to this matter and will return to consider it in future PEEL inspections.
How well does the force understand the current and likely future demand?
Northamptonshire Police has a good understanding of its current demand. It has devised a detailed policing model capable of providing relatively complex analytical tools to understand demand better. The force has a good understanding of inefficient internal processes, supported by strong analysis. However, there could be a clearer link between its demand analysis and its work to respond to it, be that encouraging the reporting of underreported crimes or moving resources to deal with emerging crime.
The force has done a great deal of work with partners to understand how the community is changing and to manage demand collectively with partners. This puts it in strong position to deal with changing demand in the future, although the force accepts there is more it could do to understand its communities.
How well does the force use its resources to manage current demand?
Northamptonshire Police uses its good understanding of demand to inform decisions about how to deploy resources. It is considering some radical changes to ensure the force can meet its demand in a more sophisticated way. It is identifying inefficiencies to try to cut costs while delivering the same level of service to the public.
Although the force has a good understanding of the operational skills in the workforce and uses this to identify gaps and inform training, it does not have the same understanding of non-operational skills. The force has some processes in place to use recruitment to meet skills gaps.
The force has good joint working arrangements with other forces in the region, and with the fire and local authorities in Northamptonshire. However, HMIC understands that decision making on joint working has been driven previously largely by political initiatives rather than a comprehensive cost benefit analysis. The force has now deployed an analyst to identify the costs and benefits of such working.
The force has good processes in place to ensure benefits are realised from change programmes, and that potential negative impacts are identified and limited. However, HMIC has some concerns that the focus was too much on cost savings, rather than improved effectiveness.
Areas for improvement
- Northamptonshire Police should undertake appropriate activities to understand its workforce’s capabilities fully, in order to identify any gaps and put plans in place to address them. This will enable the force to be confident in its ability to meet current and likely future demand efficiently.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
HMIC has seen little to show that Northamptonshire Police has good future plans.
The force’s budget is based on assumptions that the force expects to change and, while it is developing an ICT strategy as part of a tri-force collaboration, it currently has no clear ICT or workforce strategy, and no integration between ICT and workforce plans. There is no clear investment strategy and decisions have been made without a clear idea of an overall aim.
Areas for improvement
- Northamptonshire Police should develop and implement an effective ICT strategy to ensure that the force can meet the likely future demand for its services efficiently.
- Northamptonshire Police should ensure it has adequate plans in place to show that it can provide services, while also making necessary cost savings.