Sussex PEEL 2015
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
HMIC found that Sussex Police is well prepared to face its future financial challenges. The force has a thorough understanding of its current demand, its finances and its plans for change. Its direction of travel is one of improvement from an already strong base. The preparatory work in designing the new operating model is robust and gives the force a good understanding of demand. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, Sussex Police was judged to be good.
HMIC judges Sussex Police to be good. The force has a good understanding of its current and future demand for local policing services and has sufficient resources to respond to calls for service and meet that demand. For example, the force has identified the top generators of demand such as those families identified through the ‘troubled families’ programme and those incidents relating to mental health issues. It has put in place intervention measures with other public sector organisations to reduce that demand. That level of understanding of demand is not yet evident in other policing areas of specialist crime. The force has started work to further develop that understanding but it is not yet a mature product. The force plans to further improve its understanding of demand to bring radical changes in working practices and a reduction of workforce numbers in principal areas of police activity. However, implementation of the new policing model is only just beginning and it is therefore too early to judge the programme’s success.
The force has a robust change programme and has undertaken strong preparatory analysis and design to deliver a comprehensive business case that underpins the new local policing model.
The force has a good track record of financial management, achieving the savings required and a balanced budget. Having achieved savings of £56.9m during the spending review period, the force forecast that a further £57m needs to be saved up to 2020. The force has clear plans as to how it will achieve the budget savings and the large reduction in workforce numbers that it needs to make over the next five years, while still delivering high quality policing services.
How well does the force use its resources to meet its demand?
The force has a good understanding of current and future demand for local policing services. The force is using the same approach to develop its understanding for specialist police services and those services that it provides in collaboration with Surrey Police, such as serious and organised crime investigation and deployment of armed officers. This provides the force with a firm platform to redesign future policing services within the financial constraints it is facing.
While the current operating model meets existing demand, the force has embarked on an ambitious programme to reform how it delivers local policing services. A fundamental aspect of this is the introduction of a ‘demand reduction’ programme and the roll-out of new mobile technology.
There is a performance management framework within the force with clear guidelines of how local managers are expected to hold their staff responsible for outcomes.
The force has undertaken a comprehensive programme to involve staff and explain the changes that will take place over the next five years. The force and the PCC has communicated with the workforce and the public so both understand the significant changes to how policing will be delivered in the future.
How sustainable and affordable is the workforce model?
The force’s current operating model matches existing demand, organisational and financial requirements. The force has designed a future model that enables it to deliver policing in 2020 within a budget which will be subject to continuous constraints.
A large percentage of the force budget is tied to paying salaries. Previous budget reductions have been focused heavily on reducing non-pay costs. While the force does have plans to make further efficiencies, it is inevitable that a large percentage of the future reductions may have an impact on workforce numbers. This could include reducing the size of the workforce by up to a thousand. However, the future workforce has been carefully modelled on projected demand and more efficient ways of working to ensure that these reductions are manageable.
The force recognises that its workforce needs to be more representative of the communities it serves. However, austerity has resulted in restrictions on recruitment and opportunities for advancement and this may inevitably constrain improvement in this area in the immediate future.
How sustainable is the force’s financial position for the short and long term?
The force has effective measures in place to control expenditure and has a secure financial position for the short and long term. The force has achieved all of the savings required over the last spending review period and has plans in place to deliver savings through to 2018/19.
The medium-term financial plan identifies required savings of £57m between 2015 and 2018/19. All elements of the change programme have business cases that identify associated savings and are quality assured through robust governance and accountability procedures.
The financial plans are developed in conjunction with the OPCC and reflect the police and crime plan. Any increase in the council tax element of the force’s revenue budget is used to directly fund priority areas identified by the PCC, for example safeguarding vulnerable victims and cyber-crime.
Budget assumptions, both affecting the revenue grant and the precept, are shared between the PCC and the chief finance officer. Budget performance reports are presented monthly by the force to the PCC and this forum is also used to address major finance and contractual decisions requiring the PCC’s approval.