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Northumbria PEEL 2016

Efficiency

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

Last updated 03/11/2016
Good

Northumbria Police has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.

Northumbria Police has a good understanding of current demand for its services. It is taking positive steps to identify hidden demand and reduce unnecessary demand. The force has taken steps to assess future demand from emerging and changing crime types, and the implications for the force. It understands the requirement to reallocate resources to cover the greatest area of risk. The force understands the benefits of collaboration. It is actively seeking new arrangements with other forces, partner agencies and other emergency services. It has made sound financial planning assumptions for the short and medium term and has planned its resources to ensure its capability to provide an effective policing service.

Northumbria Police has a good understanding of current demand for its services and has taken active steps to reduce front-end demand. The force is taking steps to identify hidden demand and is achieving this through established processes involving minority communities. The force encourages staff to find ways of reducing unnecessary demand through innovation. ‘Change in a day’ and ‘Quick wins’ are just two of the initiatives that the force has implemented. Northumbria Police has taken steps to assess future demand from emerging and changing crime types, and the implications of this for the force.

The force has worked with partner agencies to explore ways to make working arrangements more efficient and effective. But HMIC believes the force could do more to understand the impact of reduced budgets on partner agencies and the likely implications for demand on the force.

The force understands the requirement to reallocate resources to cover the greatest area of risk. It has potentially made savings of 205 officers from frontline policing by introducing a resolution without deployment team and changing its approach to shoplifting, making off without payment (bilking) and to people who are absent – not at a place where they are supposed to be. This has enabled investment in a safeguarding department to allow the force to get ahead of demand. Workforce planning does, however, need to be more advanced. The force has a good understanding of workforce gaps and how to tackle them, but it now needs to ensure that it has the capability and capacity to address the emerging threat of cyber-crime.

The force understands the benefits of collaboration and is actively seeking new arrangements with other forces, partner agencies and other emergency services. It has made sound financial planning assumptions for the short and medium term and has planned its resources to ensure its capability to provide an effective policing service. The force can also raise considerable funds through the sale of redundant estate and the rise in the council tax precept. It had made plans to reduce its workforce in anticipation of a negative spending review in November 2015. The positive result enabled the force to continue with the planned changes while realigning resources to the areas of greatest risk.

The force has invested in technology such as body-worn cameras and ‘phablets’ (hand-held remote access devices), which has enabled frontline officers to be more visible. While each of the force’s successful bids for Home Office funding has a built-in evaluation process as part of its business case, HMIC believes that the force could do more to evaluate the whole of the change programme to ensure that initiatives are beneficial.

The force has a comprehensive information and communication technology strategy and sufficient funds to see the programme through to completion. There are, however, some concerns that the force does not have sufficient expertise to ensure that the strategy is implemented.

Questions for Efficiency

1

How well does the force understand the current and likely future demand?

Northumbria Police is judged to be good in relation to how well it understands the current and likely future demand for its services.

Northumbria Police has a good understanding of current demand and has taken active steps to reduce front-end demand. The force is taking steps to identify hidden demand and is achieving this through established processes involving minority communities. The force encourages staff to find ways of reducing unnecessary demand through innovation. ‘Change in a day’ and ‘Quick wins’ are just two of the initiatives that the force has implemented. Northumbria Police has taken steps to assess future demand from emerging and changing crime types, and the implications of this for the force.

The force has worked with partner agencies to explore ways to make working arrangements more efficient and effective. But HMIC believes the force could do more to understand the impact of reduced budgets on partner agencies and the likely implications for demand on the force.

Good
2

How well does the force use its resources to manage current demand?

Northumbria Police uses its resources well to manage current demand. Its understanding of this demand ensures that it allocates resources appropriately, and in line with priorities, to match demand and keep pace with financial requirements. The force has a good understanding of its workforce skills and uses this information effectively to identify and fill gaps in capability. There is a comprehensive training plan that is linked to an awareness of future requirements.

However, HMIC has some concerns that the force has not fully considered enhancing its capacity and capability to meet the rising demands from cyber-crime. The force is keen to increase collaborative working and has a clear strategy as to how it will achieve this. It already links with other police forces, partner organisations and blue light agencies, and it is able to show savings and improved service provision as a result of joint working. However, its approach to evaluating the benefits from the change programme systematically is not consistent.

Good

Areas for improvement

  • Northumbria Police should put in place better processes and governance to understand and realise the benefits of projects and change programmes and collaborative work, and how they affect the force’s ability to meet current and likely future demand efficiently.
3

How well is the force planning for demand in the future?

Northumbria Police has established plans to enable it to manage future demand. It has financial plans that align well with force priorities and it can therefore target resources at areas of policing that have the greatest risk. Workforce planning needs to become more advanced to ensure that there is a clear and sound basis for moving staff into areas of greatest demand and that all areas of policing across the organisation are appropriately staffed.

The force has a comprehensive information communication technology strategy that should help in service provision and achieving efficiencies. HMIC does, however, have concerns that the current in-force capability to implement this strategy is limited. The force does have plans to seek external specialist support and also plans to recruit individuals into the organisation who will support the strategy, but at this stage there are no timescales as to when this will take place.

The force has considered various ways to generate income and has identified both the sale of estate and the rise of the council tax precept. It is already involved in collaboration and partnership agreements across the range of the police service, partner agencies and other emergency services. Additional work is under way to explore other avenues of collaboration to further enhance policing services and maximise efficiency savings.

Requires improvement

Areas for improvement

  • Northumbria Police should ensure it has sufficient expertise to implement an effective ICT strategy to meet likely future demand for its services efficiently.
  • Northumbria Police should ensure that workforce planning covers all areas of policing and that there is a clear rationale, based on evidence, to re-organise staff to meet current and likely future demand.