Lincolnshire PEEL 2017
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Lincolnshire Police is judged to require improvement in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment this year is not consistent with last year’s assessment where we judged the force to be good for efficiency overall. The force’s understanding of demand is judged to require improvement; it is judged to be good for its use of resources to manage demand; and its planning for future demand is judged to require improvement.
Lincolnshire Police provides a good policing service to its communities at one of the lowest costs per head of the population in England and Wales. It has entered into local partnerships, for example, with local authorities, has outsourced services to the private sector and has undertaken extensive collaborative work. However, because its last comprehensive review of demand took place some time ago, the force now has an incomplete understanding of the current, complex and future demand for its services.
HMICFRS expects forces to have a continuing process in place to understand demand. In addition, the force is not sufficiently developed in how it plans to respond to an uncertain financial future and to provide efficient and effective policing.
Lincolnshire Police continues to prioritise its services and it allocates its resources well. It has introduced a new policing model, which redirects resources to deal proactively with potential problems. The force understands its current workforce’s operational skills and capabilities, although it could benefit from recording their non-operational skills such as other languages. It is developing leaders for the future, but it might be missing opportunities to increase the diversity of teams and to seek talented individuals from elsewhere.
The force invests well in ICT and other technology to improve efficiency. It also collaborates extensively, for example with other forces and emergency services, the local council, private-sector providers and academics, to cut costs, increase resilience and improve capacity.
The force predicts a significant budget deficit in April 2018. This is a considerable concern to HMICFRS as it means that the force depends heavily on the police and crime commissioner’s financial reserves to balance the budget. Due to the priority-based budgeting exercise not being far enough forward at the time of the inspection, the force was unable to demonstrate a clear plan as to how it will deal with this anticipated budget shortfall. The recent changes in the force leadership team have inevitably resulted in a pause in some of the decision-making processes, to allow the new chief officer team time to review the future plans. HMICFRS looks forward to the new chief constable, and his team, taking on these challenges and is confident that the team will develop clear plans and take swift action to ensure that the force can maintain effective policing if funding is not increased in line with the force’s current expectations.
How well does the force understand demand?
Lincolnshire Police’s understanding of demand, including demand that is less likely to be reported, is incomplete. The last comprehensive review of demand took place some time ago and there is a limited understanding of the nature and scale of many of its priority areas. The force’s analytical capacity has diminished over the last year so it is increasing the number of analysts and is working collaboratively with local partner organisations such as the local council.
The force’s command and control system does not provide robust data to understand changes in reactive demand fully so the force plans to replace this system in 2018. It has some very good projects to reduce and prevent crime, particularly those crimes which affect people who are vulnerable or less likely to engage with the police. It is also developing ways to highlight more complex crimes and crimes that are less likely to be reported.
The force is committed to improving its understanding of how inefficient internal processes affect demand. It has undertaken research on processes and practices to support a new policing model. The force filters demand, but avoids intentionally suppressing it. Improvements to its website explain its services and direct people to the most appropriate lead organisation and allow victims to report crime online. The force has taken steps to make sure it can realise the potential benefits of its change projects. Members of the workforce are encouraged to make suggestions and put forward ideas and their leaders listen to them.
Areas for improvement
- In order to focus its activity more effectively, the force should improve its ability to analyse information and intelligence to gain a better understanding of:
- current demand
- crimes less likely to be reported
- more complex demand in Lincolnshire
How well does the force use its resources?
Lincolnshire Police has a growing understanding of the skills and capabilities it needs to meet present and future demand. The force records the training courses which members of the workforce have undertaken and the qualifications they received, but it does not collate information on non-operational skills such as other languages. It uses a broad range of approaches and techniques to understand the relative strengths of its leadership. However, it has not yet completed its formal audit of the skills of its leaders, which concentrates on their operational skills.
The force recognises the need for more accredited investigators and for the workforce to possess good skills in investigating digital crime to meet current and future demand. It is trying to recruit suitably qualified investigators from other forces, is increasing its provision for training investigators and is encouraging more officers to transfer to the criminal investigations department. However, financial priorities sometimes restrict the force from training for the skills that it requires to meet its future needs.
The force continues to prioritise its services and allocate its resources well. It has extensive experience of varying the levels of resources to meet different demands or reduce costs. The new policing model redirects resources to deal proactively with potential problems. The force can demonstrate significant benefits from its investment in ICT, such as mobile data and body-worn video cameras.
Lincolnshire Police is working well with others to manage demand and improve its services. It collaborates extensively with other police forces, the local council, other emergency services, academics and private-sector providers. The force can demonstrate how its collaborative work with others has cut costs and increased resilience and capacity.
Areas for improvement
- The force should complete an audit of leadership skills which will allow it to understand leadership capacity and capability, to identify any gaps and, if necessary, put plans in place to address them.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
Lincolnshire Police’s assessment of emerging and likely demand for its services is limited but developing, and it does not always consider public expectations. The force invests well in ICT and other technology to improve efficiency and shows a good commitment to projects that should increase its capacity and capability.
The force’s succession planning is mostly good. The new professional development review process is designed to identify training and development needs more effectively and ensure they are tailored to the individual’s development. Future leaders are being nurtured but the force might be missing opportunities to increase the diversity of its teams and to seek talented individuals from elsewhere.
Although its priority-based budgeting exercise produced a number of fully-costed options on future service levels, the force was not far enough ahead at the time of inspection to show a clear plan to deal with an anticipated budget deficit in April 2018. HMICFRS looks forward to the new chief constable, and his team, taking on these challenges and maintaining effective policing if funding is not increased in line with expectations.
Cause of concern
The lack of clear financial plans to deal with a range of future funding scenarios in Lincolnshire Police is a cause of concern to HMICFRS. It means that it is not possible for us to be certain that the force will continue to be able to provide efficient and effective policing in the future.
- To address this cause for concern, HMICFRS recommends that, within three months of publication of this report, the force should work with partner organisations and expert support explicitly to link its financial plans with the revised operating model, the revised operational plans and the revised workforce plans. All of these must be informed by a comprehensive understanding of demand.