Cheshire PEEL 2015
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
HMIC found that Cheshire Constabulary is exceptionally well prepared to face its future financial challenges. It has a good understanding of demand and has processes in place to make informed choices about resources and levels of service across every business area. Workforce and financial plans are detailed and closely aligned and the constabulary has a strong track record of achieving savings. Together, these provide HMIC with confidence that this performance can be sustained through to 2019/20. In last year’s value for money inspection which considered how forces had met the challenges of the first spending review period, Cheshire Constabulary was judged to be good.
HMIC judges Cheshire Constabulary to be outstanding. Cheshire Constabulary has developed a good understanding of the demand it faces, both now and into the future. The constabulary used a priority-based budgeting process to identify existing demand and service levels, assess future demand, identify potential levels of service that could be provided and allocate resources. The constabulary identified 52 discrete service areas which made up the entirety of its operations. The process comprised three stages, each led by the deputy chief constable with the involvement of the office of the police and crime commissioner. Starting with a review in September 2015, the constabulary intends to run priority-based budgeting annually to monitor progress against its financial and workforce plans and the police and crime plan.
This process has allowed the chief officer team to make informed choices about resource allocation and levels of service across every business area, resulting in increased investment in frontline services and re-alignment of resources to priority and emerging areas. It has informed a new operating model for local policing which is rolling out across the constabulary area from July 2015.
The constabulary’s workforce planning is intrinsically linked with its financial planning and budget prioritisation. Plans are in place to ensure that the workforce has the skills and abilities necessary to provide services that meet the needs of the community.
Cheshire Constabulary has achieved a balanced budget throughout the spending review period and has planned a balanced budget for 2015/16 which is not reliant on the use of reserves. Cheshire’s savings tracker database provides a detailed understanding of where and when savings are achieved, along with projected future savings. The constabulary’s plans, strong financial management and record of achieving savings to date provide HMIC with confidence that this can be sustained through to 2019/20.
How well does the force use its resources to meet its demand?
Cheshire Constabulary understands the demand it faces, informed by its strategic threat and risk assessment. It can identify areas of growing risk where the constabulary needs to invest more resources, and where current activity is appropriate to deal with predicted levels of harm.
The constabulary has systems and processes in place to identify its available resources and skills and ensure they are allocated where most needed. It is therefore able to match its resources to demand.
The constabulary has reviewed its internal processes to identify those creating unnecessary demand on its resources and those which are duplicated. This has identified process improvements, enabled the constabulary to implement changes and reduce demand. It is also working with its partners to better manage demand and provide an improved service to the public.
The constabulary has an established framework for monitoring and managing a wide range of performance issues, the progress and outcomes of the ongoing programme of change and to monitor expenditure and budget forecasts.
The constabulary has begun a number of new ways of working through collaboration with other forces and external partners. It is supported by a professional and progressive IT department, which develops products and services that meet the needs it has identified.
How sustainable and affordable is the workforce model?
Cheshire Constabulary’s workforce planning is closely linked with financial planning and budget building.
The constabulary has used the priority-based budgeting process to align its workforce with current demand, financial requirements and the organisational requirements of the police and crime plan. Rather than using this process simply as the means to achieve budget savings, the constabulary has identified choices in the level of service it provides through back office functions and has used the savings generated to reinvest in priority areas.
Cheshire undertakes detailed workforce planning monthly. This includes detailed succession and vacancy planning based on known and projected leavers and the identification and assessment of posts considered critical to the efficiency and effectiveness of the constabulary.
Cheshire also has plans to ensure that its workforce has the skills and abilities necessary to provide services that meet the needs of the community, the organisation and the individual.
The constabulary’s workforce model appears affordable and sustainable through to 2019/20.
How sustainable is the force’s financial position for the short and long term?
Cheshire Constabulary has achieved a balanced budget throughout the spending review period and has planned a balanced budget for 2015/16 which is not reliant on the use of reserves. Through the priority-based budgeting process the constabulary has been able to identify a number of opportunities to reinvest savings in support of its objectives and priorities.
The constabulary is effectively exploring many collaboration opportunities with other forces and partner agencies. It has been successful in securing additional funding to improve its mobile technology for police officers and to integrate public services around safeguarding and early intervention with complex families and domestic abuse victims.
The constabulary exercises strong financial control. Its savings tracker database provides a detailed understanding of where and when savings are achieved, along with projected future savings.
The financial plans reflect the objectives set out in the police and crime plan. The constabulary holds regular progress meetings with the police and crime commissioner and his office has continuous access to the savings tracker.
The constabulary has set out detailed financial plans, based on the annual priority-based budget process, which provides confidence that the constabulary can achieve the potential savings required through to 2019/20.