Cleveland PEEL 2015
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
HMIC found that Cleveland Police is partly prepared to face its future financial challenges. It has balanced the budget and has a good track record of achieving savings, although future plans beyond 2016 are projecting a budget deficit. The force needs to improve its understanding of the demand on its services and will need to change its processes and workforce allocation significantly to meet demand and address this deficit. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, Cleveland was judged to be good.
HMIC judges Cleveland Police to require improvement. The force has been required to cut its spending by 21 percent since 2010, which is higher than the England and Wales average of 18 percent. It has successfully achieved the savings needed to date, cutting its police officer strength by 23 percent and outsourcing its back office support functions to a private sector provider, including its call handling and systems for deploying police officers.
The force has some knowledge of the demand on its services but requires a better understanding of this to allow it to match its resources to demand more efficiently. Cleveland Police responds to higher levels of incidents as emergency and priority than other forces. While it responds well to emergency calls for service and endeavours to respond to all crimes, this is stretching the force’s resources. As a result there is little capacity to undertake proactive policing work in order to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.
There has been limited change to the workforce model since the force restructure in 2013. Since then the volume and type of demand on its services has changed and the number of police officers has continued to fall in order to make the savings needed.
The force is now facing further financial cuts and HMIC is concerned that the force does not yet have any detailed plans in place to balance its budget after April 2016. It predicts a cumulative deficit of £11m by 2018/19. The force is exploring options to increase income and maximise funding opportunities, but the scale of further savings required is considerable and the scope in which to find those savings is limited, partly as a result of a long-term outsourcing contract with a private sector provider. The force will need to consider significant changes in the way the force delivers policing to the public.
How well does the force use its resources to meet its demand?
Cleveland Police is one of the few forces that still attends all calls reporting a crime. The force responds well to emergency calls and priority incidents. However, the high demand from these means that resources are stretched and police officers are unable to spend enough time on proactive policing activities that could reduce demand for its services from crime and anti-social behaviour.
The force is developing a better understanding of demand. Day to day changes in demand are managed but beyond this it is struggling to match its current level of resources to meet all the demands on its services.
The force has a clear and comprehensive performance framework to monitor and manage its performance but there is limited evidence that the force knows to what extent it is currently achieving value for money. It is not monitoring the effects of efficiency changes and process improvements on the quality of its services.
The force is making good use of technology which it is further developing to enable frontline officers to be more efficient. It is embracing collaborative working to reduce costs and provide future resilience. The force has recognised the value of working with local public sector organisations to manage demand better, and progress is being made in providing an improved service for the public.
Areas for improvement
- The force should gain a fuller understanding of current demand for its services, and likely future changes in demand. This is so it can make best use of its resources by matching them to demand to meet the needs of the public.
How sustainable and affordable is the workforce model?
The current workforce model was designed in 2013 to fit demand for the force’s services at that time. The volume and type of demand for service has now changed, and the number of police officers has continued to decrease in order to make the savings needed –however there has been limited change to the workforce model. It therefore no longer sufficiently supports the force responding to its demand. The current workforce model will not be affordable based on the further budget cuts the force needs to make.
The force’s planned improved understanding of demand will inform the future workforce model including the resources, skills and behaviours that will be required. The force has a strategic vision for the future of the organisation. This includes defining what local policing is for Cleveland, working in collaboration with other organisations, and making back office support services more efficient and effective. However, it has not yet developed a detailed plan for how the workforce will need to change to match demand, organisational and financial requirements.
Areas for improvement
- The force should develop a future workforce plan that is aligned to its overall demand and budget. The plan should include future resource allocations, the mix of skills required by the workforce and behaviours expected of them.
- The force should fully communicate the future vision of its policing model to the workforce.
How sustainable is the force’s financial position for the short and long term?
The force has a good track record of achieving substantial savings and despite facing higher than average saving requirements has managed to maintain a sustainable position to date. Savings so far have been found mainly from reducing police officer numbers and from outsourcing many of the force’s back office support functions to a private sector provider.
The force exercises strong financial control. The chief finance officer has good oversight and governance of both strategic and day-to-day financial management.
The force’s financial plans directly reflect and are based on the objectives set out in the police and crime plan. The force chief finance officer works closely and constructively with the police and crime commissioner’s chief finance officer.
However HMIC is concerned that the force is facing a considerable challenge with a financial deficit from April 2016 onwards. It has as yet made no detailed plans for likely reductions in spending. The force has made limited progress in generating other income but has maximised funding opportunities through Home Office Police Innovation Fund bids.
The scale of the likely savings is considerable and the scope in which to find those savings is limited without significant change to the way the force delivers policing to the public.
Areas for improvement
- The force should develop clear and realistic plans for achieving the likely savings required beyond 2015/16.