Wiltshire PEEL 2016
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Wiltshire Police has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. This is in line with last year’s inspection where the force was also graded as good. It has a track record of effective budget planning and good financial planning. Effective processes are in place to manage demand for its services and the force is using various methods to assess future demand. It has a good understanding of current workforce capabilities and uses some innovative software to inform decisions about workforce structures and staff deployment. Wiltshire Police has well-established partnership arrangements and is working well with those partners to assess demand and service delivery for the future.
The force has a sound understanding of the range of demand for its services. It is speaking to officers and focus groups in high-risk areas to learn where there may be hidden demand and how best to deal with it. It has created a sustainable understanding of demand group, with six work streams to assess demand in a common and consistent way. The work streams gather quantitative data on volumes, trends and forecasts, in consultation with staff.
A management of demand in partnership working group has been exploring the impact on operational policing of budget reductions across public services. Its purpose is to look at all relevant aspects, and it collated a range of evidence to establish the risk to service delivery by the police. Progress has been made in achieving efficiencies and in compliance with service-level agreements.
The force has established systems to manage the demand for its services. These include a business dashboard that informs the resource management panel meetings and financial planning arrangements.
The force has a strong track record in achieving cost savings and effective investment in digitisation. Introducing laptops has been a major organisational change, enabling staff to spend more time away from the station.
The force’s workforce model and annual budget reflect changes in organisational priorities. A review is currently taking place that will identify the skill mix needed for the future. The force has a medium-term financial forecast that sets out the projected savings requirements over the rest of the spending review period. For the current financial year, the police and crime commissioner agreed to use £1.6m of reserves to support revenue spending. The force is fully aware that this is not sustainable. It has a plan to balance budgets in the following financial year by managing headcount.
How well does the force understand the current and likely future demand?
Wiltshire Police has a good understanding of current demand for its services. As well as analysing telephone calls to the force, it has also used a diagnostic tool to assess online demand and to measure how these services are used. It is consulting frontline staff and using focus groups in high-risk areas to understand hidden demand better, and what is needed to deal with it. The force has set up a sustainable understanding of demand group with six main work streams to assess demand. It has also established a management of demand in partnership working group to understand the impact on operational policing of budget reductions across public services. It assesses emerging or likely future demand, for example by reviewing increases in domestic abuse cases and troubled families referrals. It then advises the policing areas on the additional needs that these will create. The force is currently using this analysis to change its overall operating model and the community policing team operating model so that they take account of future needs.
Areas for improvement
- Wiltshire Police should ensure that its understanding of the demand for its services and the expectations of the public is up to date by regularly reviewing its evidence base. This should be done alongside local authorities, other emergency services and partner organisations, to ensure that the force takes the necessary steps to meet current and likely future demand, including hidden demand.
How well does the force use its resources to manage current demand?
The force uses its resources well to manage current demand. The force works collaboratively with a range of partner agencies, covering areas such as adult services, children or young people missing from home and care home absentees. The focus is on vulnerable and high-risk victims through established multi-agency safeguarding hubs. Cyber-crime prevention and investigation work has received increased investment. Budget management processes ensure value for money and the force has a strong track record of reducing costs and investing effectively in digitisation.
The force understands current workforce capabilities and gaps, with its people intelligence board using the people data tool to make decisions about workforce structures and staff deployment. In support of this, the force has refreshed its recruitment strategy to ensure not only that recruitment plans meet demand but also that skills and resources align with change in crime types, for example, growth in cyber-crime and firearms.
The force has embarked on a programme of estates co-location with Wiltshire and Swindon councils. Policing teams and front counters are now co-located in town centres, thereby giving the public more and easier access. All staff have been issued with laptops which allow the workforce to be more accessible and this move has received positive feedback from the public.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
Wiltshire Police has a solid future plan based on realistic and prudent assumptions about future income, costs and benefits, which make good use of information on future demand and workforce capabilities. It has a track record of effective budget planning. We found clear evidence of financial planning with a medium-term plan and a published budget book. Since 2011, the force has achieved £17m of savings and in doing so has protected frontline officer posts in vulnerable areas such as public protection, response and neighbourhoods, and has focused on identifying savings from middle management and support services. The annual medium-term financial strategy enables the chief constable to understand the likely funding available, with the medium-term financial forecast setting out the projected savings requirements over the rest of the spending review period. This financial position is reflected in the PCC’s delivery plan and communicated to the public by the office of the PCC.
The force can show that its workforce model and annual budget reflect changes in organisational priorities. Investment in improving ICT is a priority. Improvements include £2m spent on laptops to enable staff to work more flexibly and the police estate to be reduced. Another example is the introduction of live-link technology, which enables police officers and staff to give evidence in court hearings from one of two dedicated police stations, thereby saving time and the expense of having to travel to court.