Cumbria PEEL 2015
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
HMIC found that Cumbria Constabulary is well prepared to face its future financial challenges. Through robust financial management and accurate budgeting it is successfully making the savings required of it, and is well placed to continue to do so, while maintaining a high-quality response to calls for service from the public. It has plans in place to achieve further savings through to 2018/19. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces met the challenge of the first spending review period, Cumbria was judged to be good.
HMIC judges Cumbria Constabulary to be good. The constabulary is working well to improve its efficiency. It has a proven record of robust financial management and providing planned savings.
The constabulary has analysed the current demand on its services and identified areas where it can work differently in order to make more efficient use of police resources. The constabulary has a change programme which is intended to deliver a significant re-organisation of how policing will be provided across the county in the future. New arrangements should make the constabulary more efficient in how it allocates its resources. In the future, it will seek to focus resources according to risk, rather than responding to all requests for service. There is a plan to streamline and improve frontline policing services, while making substantial cuts to the budget.
In the longer term, the constabulary has a secure financial position. Careful management of budgets and a considered approach to managing change has allowed the constabulary to meet the challenges of austerity and invest in its estate and new technology. The constabulary has financial and workforce plans to meet the required future budget reductions, recognising that its current approach to demand will not be sustainable when resources reduce.
The constabulary aims to be a smaller, more agile organisation. To achieve this, it will need to implement planned improvements (including to its communication centre), working with local public sector organisations to reduce demand, and aligning future skills requirements to workforce plans.
How well does the force use its resources to meet its demand?
Cumbria Constabulary has a good understanding of the current demand on its services, and has sufficient resources to be able to respond to calls for service. However, the constabulary recognises that its current arrangements will not be sustainable when resources reduce in line with future budget cuts.
The constabulary is introducing new arrangements to be more efficient in how it allocates its resources. In the future, it will seek to focus resources according to risk rather than responding to all requests for service. The priority for the constabulary is the daily consideration and management of threat, harm and risk that assesses vulnerability with the aim of keeping people safe. Officers in local policing areas will focus on tackling the causes of crime and anti-social behaviour, which should reduce demand on the constabulary’s services.
The constabulary has a good understanding of how its costs compare with others, and focuses improvement activity in areas where costs appear high.
The constabulary is rolling out new technology for officers to allow them to work more flexibly, away from police stations. In addition, high-level discussions continue between the constabulary and partner agencies, aimed at reducing the unnecessary demand passed on to the police and improving together crime prevention arrangements.
How sustainable and affordable is the workforce model?
The current workforce model is able to respond effectively to most areas of demand, and in some instances a better service than might be expected is being provided, because officers have the capacity to attend quickly.
However, the financial plans require further reductions to be made in workforce numbers. The constabulary has a change programme which will oversee a significant re-organisation of how policing will be provided across the county in future. While there is an appreciation that the workforce will become smaller, there is a renewed emphasis on working more effectively with partners to better integrate services and reduce crime through more prevention activity.
The constabulary plans to provide the best service it can afford with a reduced workforce. It has detailed plans for how the new workforce model will work up to 2018/19, including staffing numbers, which align well with financial plans.
The type and complexity of crimes are changing, and the constabulary is undertaking more analysis to identify the different skills and expertise its workforce needs in order to provide an effective service.
How sustainable is the force’s financial position for the short and long term?
The constabulary has successfully balanced its budget every year from 2010/11 to 2014/15. It has planned a balanced budget for 2015/16, which includes a cut in spending of £1.8m.
The constabulary has exercised prudent management. Finance plans are closely aligned to workforce plans and there is confidence that staff numbers can be reduced to affordable levels through planned retirements and people choosing to leave.
The constabulary’s plans reflect the objectives set out in the Police and Crime Plan, which is committed to a neighbourhood policing approach. The constabulary has strong governance arrangements in place, and there is ongoing liaison between the treasurer in the police and crime commissioner’s office and the constabulary finance director.
The constabulary has clear plans in place to achieve the reductions in spending needed by 2018/19 through continued implementation of its change programme. The new workforce model, improved local partnership working and increasing use of technology aim to ensure that the constabulary can work more efficiently, and continue to provide effective policing with fewer resources.
The constabulary is planning for beyond 2018/19.