Thames Valley PEEL 2015
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
HMIC found that Thames Valley Police is very well prepared to face its future financial challenges. Through robust financial management and understanding of current demand 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 financial plans to achieve savings in this financial year and is developing robust processes to make future savings. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, Thames Valley was judged to be good.
HMIC judges Thames Valley Police to be good. It has a good understanding of the demand for its services from the public. The force has changed its workforce model to manage demand and looks at new methods of working to be more efficient and effective.
Thames Valley Police has a strong track record of effective financial management and has delivered savings of £58.9 million during the previous spending review. It is on track to deliver a further £12.8m of savings in 2015/16.
Police performance has remained strong, with one of the biggest reductions in recorded crime and anti-social behaviour incidents in England and Wales over this period. The force financial plans take into account the priorities set by the police and crime commissioner and there is a good joint understanding of current and future budget pressures.
Collaboration with Hampshire Constabulary has been well planned, and is achieving efficiencies and resilience in services with additional collaborative working opportunities being actively explored.
While the budget is balanced for 2015/16, the medium-term financial plan (MTFP) 2015/16 to 2017/18 identifies a required reduction in expenditure of £46m over these three years, of which the force has so far only identified savings of £24.1m. The force does not yet have clear plans in place to achieve all of the savings it anticipates will be needed over the next three years. However, HMIC is encouraged that it has developed a process of priority-based budgeting (PBB) to understand demand, use of resources, and what value that resource delivers in terms of their priorities.
How well does the force use its resources to meet its demand?
The force has thoroughly analysed calls for police services that come into the force and has a good understanding of current demand.
The force matches resources to demand effectively and has managed its programme of budget reductions well while protecting frontline services.
Performance has remained strong, with one of the biggest reductions in recorded crime and anti-social behaviour incidents in England and Wales.
HMIC found that the force has introduced new working methods, including collaboration with other partners and Hampshire Constabulary. The force could make more use of new technology, although it is clear that there are some innovative approaches to new ways of working being considered and pursued.
Many individuals in the workforce were unaware of some of the proposed changes and further work is needed to ensure that there are clear, co-ordinated and widely communicated plans.
HMIC is encouraged that the force has developed a process, known as priority-based budgeting (PBB), which will help the force to understand fully the demands placed on its workforce and make well informed decisions on prioritising activity and setting appropriate levels of service. The force is in the very early stages of assessing future demand, which would enhance its ability to plan further ahead.
How sustainable and affordable is the workforce model?
The force workforce model currently meets the demand for its services within its budget.
The force has so far managed its savings with limited impact on the size of the workforce, but it recognises that further savings required over the next two to three years will have a greater impact on the size of its workforce.
The force is placing much emphasis on the priority-based budgeting approach in enabling these workforce reductions to be identified, at the same time as continuing to provide services that matter most.
Senior managers are clear that they intend that the organisation will look and operate very differently in three years, particularly through using new technology.
Although the scale of the change required presents a significant challenge, HMIC found that the force has stable, well-established leadership and existing internal structures through which to plan and manage.
The force has strong structures to develop general workforce capabilities, particularly leadership skills. This would be further enhanced by being linked to a clearer understanding of the future capability likely to be required.
How sustainable is the force’s financial position for the short and long term?
The force balanced its budget for 2014/15 and achieved the savings required during this spending review period.
It has achieved a balanced budget for 2015/16 with £12.8m in savings.
The force considers funding opportunities and submitted a substantial joint bid with Hampshire Constabulary to the Police Innovation Fund.
The force priorities closely match those of the police and crime commissioner (PCC). Information is regularly shared between the force and the office of the police and crime commissioner (OPCC) to manage the budget.
The force has good systems in place to understand, manage and account for expenditure.
The MTFP for 2015/16 to 2017/18 identifies a required reduction of expenditure of £46m over these three years, of which the force has only identified savings of £24.1m.
The force estimates that it is likely to have to reduce police officer numbers by 196 by March 2018.
The plans for dealing with this shortfall are through the priority-based budgeting (PBB) process. The baseline analysis from this should give a better understanding of spending and the force is strongly placed to make swift decisions on the savings opportunities it wishes to pursue once the PBB process is complete.