Suffolk PEEL 2016
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Suffolk Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force has a good understanding of its current and likely future demand for its services. It uses its resources well to manage demand and has an impressive record of collaborating with other forces and organisations to improve efficiency and make savings. The force is good at planning for demand in the future and has sound financial and organisational plans. The force needs to ensure it gets the most out of its investment in information communication technology (ICT) and that its workforce has the skills they need to meet future demand and changing crime trends. In last year’s efficiency inspection, Suffolk Constabulary was judged to be good.
Suffolk Constabulary has continued to be good in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime since HMIC’s inspection in 2015. The force now has a good understanding of its current and future demand, and is improving its understanding of demand that is less likely to be reported. It has worked with a wide range of partners to uncover hidden harm within Suffolk communities, such as modern-day slavery within the traveller community and gang masters exploiting migrant workers. The force is involved in the Better Policing Collaborative, a joint venture involving a number of universities as well as the organisation Skills for Justice, which gives it a better understanding of what works and allows it to make future decisions based on strong evidence. The joint performance and analysis department with Norfolk Constabulary is undertaking research into specific areas of new and emerging demand. The force is working closely with partner organisations to understand and respond to any likely reduction in their resources that may affect demand for police services.
The force is good at using its resources to manage current demand. It has implemented a new policing model to help make sure it matches its resources to demand, its finances and the priorities of the police and crime commissioner’s police and crime plan. However, it needs to ensure that it identifies and swiftly addresses skills and capability gaps in its workforce so that it can meet future demands and changes in crime trends such as cyber-crime. The force has an impressive record of collaborating with other police forces, emergency services and public-sector organisations such as local councils to improve efficiency and save money. The force, together with Norfolk Constabulary, has installed three large software platforms across both forces to improve interoperability, reduce costs and increase efficiencies. It shares some premises with Suffolk’s fire service and is working closely with them to provide more co-ordinated fire and crime prevention services. It recently extended its pilot scheme of mental health professionals working alongside officers in Ipswich to having additional practitioners within its force contact and control room.
Suffolk Constabulary is good at planning for demand in the future. It has developed financial and organisational plans that are practicable, credible, based on sound planning assumptions and focused on transforming the way it provides and improves services for the public. The force continues to identify savings to invest for the future and has effective governance processes to manage change through the organisational change board. It collaborates with Norfolk Constabulary in operational policing services such as major crime investigation, armed policing and roads policing, as well as business support functions, such as human resources, finance and ICT. Its joint digital strategy with Norfolk Constabulary outlines how the force plans to use ICT to increase efficiency and change how it provides service to the public. It has piloted the use of body-worn video and mobile data and is seeking to address the issues the pilot raised, including the poor mobile reception across the county. Although it is good at realising the benefits of its investment in most areas, it needs to do more to realise fully the benefits from its investment in ICT. It will need to ensure the workforce has the skills it needs to carry out the force’s plans.
How well does the force understand the current and likely future demand?
Suffolk Constabulary has a good understanding of the current and likely future demand for its services. It continues to develop its understanding of demand that is less likely to be reported. The force has effective processes in place to challenge itself continually to understand demand and inefficient activities through its continuous improvement programme and the work undertaken as part of the Suffolk local policing review. The force works with academic institutions and others to identify and evaluate good practice through the Better Policing Collaborative. Its understanding of the public’s expectations of its service is good, It has comprehensive plans to identify and mitigate the effect on its service of reducing partner resources.
How well does the force use its resources to manage current demand?
Suffolk Constabulary is good at using its resources to manage current demand. It makes effective decisions about how to use its resources in line with the strategic priorities of the police and crime commissioner (PCC) and the force.
The force has revised how it responds to calls from the public to improve its service and become more efficient. It has a good understanding of the costs of its services, and is developing its understanding of how its resources contribute to successful outcomes. Suffolk Constabulary has a good record of collaborating with other police forces and other public-sector organisations to improve services, reduce costs and manage demand. It has adequate arrangements in place to understand the consequences of change on the services it delivers to the public but could do more to ensure it realises the benefits of its investment in ICT.
The force needs to continue to develop its understanding of the current capabilities of its workforce. It should also identify and swiftly address any gaps to ensure it retains sufficient capacity and capability within its workforce to manage demand.
Areas for improvement
- Suffolk Constabulary should develop a better understanding of how the benefits of investing and using ICT affect the force’s ability to meet current and likely future demand efficiently, with a view to updating its ICT strategy.
- Suffolk Constabulary should undertake appropriate activities to fully understand its workforce’s capabilities, 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 efficiently meet current and likely future demand.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
Suffolk Constabulary is good at planning for demand in the future. The force has made good progress since HMIC’s 2015 efficiency inspection in understanding its current and future demand. It has implemented a new policing model that aligns its resources better against demand, finances and the priorities of the PCC’s police and crime plan. However, the force needs to continue its work in ensuring it understands the capabilities of its workforce and that staff have the necessary skills to respond adequately to changes in demand and emerging crime types.
The force has a sound approach to implementing new technology with Norfolk Constabulary, but it needs to do more to ensure it realises the benefits of its ICT systems, enabling its staff to become more efficient. It collaborates well with Norfolk Constabulary and is now investigating extending this by working with other forces in the region to reduce costs and improve joint services. It has a strong focus on working with other public sector organisations to provide more efficient and co-ordinated services to the people of Suffolk.