Cambridgeshire PEEL 2015
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
HMIC found that Cambridgeshire Constabulary is well prepared to face its future financial challenges. The force has achieved greater levels of savings than it needed to since 2010 and has built up financial reserves, which it plans to use to smooth the impact of budget cuts over the next few years until anticipated savings are achieved. The constabulary has plans in place to make all the expected savings needed through to 2019. It has worked hard to minimise the impact of budget cuts on frontline policing through working jointly with other forces to save money, and an ambitious approach to using new technology to improve police efficiency. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, Cambridgeshire was judged to be good.
HMIC judges Cambridgeshire Constabulary to be good. It has a good track record in reducing its costs while maintaining its police officer numbers. It has plans in place to meet its entire anticipated future savings until 2019/20, with a lower than average reduction in police officer numbers. It has focused on improving efficiency by using technology to make best use of police resources and through collaborating with other police forces. It has also sought to protect frontline services by reducing the numbers in senior ranks where possible.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary has carried out a comprehensive assessment of the principal threats and risks across the county and has improved its understanding of the current demands on its services. The constabulary does not yet have a full understanding of all areas of current demand, particularly demand generated by other public sector organisations. While it has some long-term projections of demand, there is a potential medium-term gap in its assessment, which is likely to impact on its ability to develop the skills and capability of its workforce over the next spending review period.
The collaboration with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary is a pivotal element in the future savings beyond 2015/16, and there remains some uncertainty and risk around the achievement of these savings. However, Cambridgeshire is aware of the risks and has devised contingency plans.
The constabulary is leading the development of innovative approaches to using information technology to improve efficiency on behalf of the tri-force collaboration. It has made impressive progress in enabling police officers to work more efficiently using the latest mobile data technology, making significantly better progress in this area than the majority of police forces in England and Wales.
Cambridgeshire is in a good financial position to face the future, having made prudent savings assumptions, and built reserves over previous years to support the collaboration and change programmes.
How well does the force use its resources to meet its demand?
Cambridgeshire Constabulary uses its resources well to meet the public demand on its services. It works hard to understand the most pressing threats and risks on its services and prioritises how it uses resources in order to protect people and fight crime.
Although the constabulary has improved its understanding of demand, it still needs to do more to make the most efficient use of police time, and more effectively plan for the future. There is not a full understanding of how demand may be reduced or redirected, or of how demand is changing over time.
Performance is well managed and the victim satisfaction rate with police services in Cambridgeshire is above average for England and Wales.
It is also working constructively to expand the range of activities that it provides in collaboration with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, not only to save money but also to provide greater resilience and improved services. The collaboration programme has enabled new ways of working through information technology, improving efficiency and transforming the way services are provided to the public.
Cambridgeshire is the lead force for information technology on behalf of the tri-force collaboration and has made impressive progress in enabling police officers to work more efficiently using the latest mobile data technology.
How sustainable and affordable is the workforce model?
The current workforce model is broadly aligned to the demands on its policing services, and matches the financial and organisational requirements. The constabulary is making use of mobile technology to improve the efficiency of frontline officers while maintaining the service it provides to the community.
Collaboration with other regional police forces, particularly joint working with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, has further enhanced efficient working.
The constabulary has made efficiencies through a substantial reduction of senior ranks following the introduction of the new police operating model in 2012. This has protected the front line and brought police and local authority partners closer together, further increasing the opportunities for joint working.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary is planning for smaller than average cuts in police officer numbers over the next four years and anticipates that the current operating model will continue to be sustainable because of the added efficiencies from both extending collaboration and using technology to make best use of police resources.
The constabulary could do more to fully understand how demands for its services are likely to change over the next five years and how it may need to adapt the mix of skills in the workforce to respond.
How sustainable is the force’s financial position for the short and long term?
Cambridgeshire Constabulary has a good track record in achieving savings while protecting frontline policing. It achieved its savings requirement and balanced the budget for the spending review period.
In addition it has made more savings than needed and has built up substantial financial reserves which it is planning to invest in future change and to support budget cuts in the short term until permanent savings are fully achieved.
The force has set a balanced budget for 2015/16, which includes the use of £0.39m of reserves. The force has reduced spending by £19.8m since the start of the spending review with below average cuts in police officer numbers. It has actively explored ways to improve efficiency in order to limit the impact of budget cuts on services.
The force works closely with the police and crime commissioner and resources are directed to priorities in the police and crime plan.
Plans for future savings are mostly well developed and the force is able to use its reserves to cover any funding gaps in the short term.
The collaboration with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire is a pivotal element in the future savings beyond 2015/16, and there remains some uncertainty and risk around the delivery of these savings. However, Cambridgeshire Constabulary is aware of the risks and has developed contingency plans.