Cheshire PEEL 2016
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Cheshire Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
The constabulary has a good understanding of demand for its services and has processes in place to make informed choices about the level of resources and levels of service across departments. At a strategic level, workforce plans and financial plans are aligned, and the constabulary has some well-developed and ambitious plans for the future, centred on increased use of digital technology and ICT development.
Cheshire Constabulary has a comprehensive strategic planning framework, centred on its understanding of demand. It has used a priority-based budgeting approach for the last two financial years. This process has allowed the constabulary to develop a more sophisticated understanding of traditional demand, such as crime and incidents, as well as helping it to understand secondary demand, such as internal demand and demand from partner agencies.
The constabulary has a good understanding of the skills and capabilities of its workforce. The constabulary moved to a new operating model in July 2015, and there are concerns among the workforce about the resulting level of staffing and the high number of probationary officers in some teams. Some teams lack officers with specific skills, such as police drivers, needed to respond efficiently to daily demand. The constabulary is learning from the implementation of the new operating model. It is making changes in several areas, including creating a bank of people ready to apply to the constabulary to cover any potential high demand for more officers, prioritising training, and increasing the numbers of officers with specialist skills.
The constabulary has a comprehensive information and communications technology (ICT) strategy that is aligned with the workforce and service plans. It has an ambitious plan for making more use of digital technology, supported through the constabulary IT strategy. However, the constabulary has yet to make full use of mobile devices. The constabulary’s medium-term financial strategy sets the constabulary budget until 2019/20 and is based on credible and sensible assumptions. The strategy includes a summary of potential high-level savings, expected funding and use of reserves. The constabulary plans for the number of police officers, police staff and police community support officers to remain constant until 2019/20 and this is reflected in the medium-term financial strategy.
How well does the force understand the current and likely future demand?
HMIC assesses Cheshire Constabulary to be outstanding in its understanding of current and likely future demand. The constabulary has a comprehensive strategic planning framework centred on the understanding of demand. It conducts an annual strategic assessment which draws on many sources of information such as environmental scanning, national reports and local authority priorities and plans, as well as changes in crime types and patterns.
The constabulary has used a priority-based budgeting (PBB) approach for the last two financial years. Through this assessment, each service area has to assess current demand against available resources, outputs and outcomes. PBB has allowed the constabulary to develop a more sophisticated understanding of traditional demand, such as crime and incidents, as well as to understand secondary demand, such as internal demand and demand from partner agencies. The constabulary’s strategic assessment also identifies areas where it does not have a good enough understanding to make an accurate assessment of demand. Further work is then commissioned to provide more information, such as intelligence gathering, exchanging information with partner agencies or producing joint profiles. The constabulary actively uses horizon scanning and detailed analysis as part of its medium-term strategic planning framework.
How well does the force use its resources to manage current demand?
Cheshire Constabulary makes good use of its resources to manage current demand. The constabulary has a good understanding of the skills and capabilities of its workforce, but has encountered a number of problems with capacity and capability following the implementation of its new operating model. The constabulary has responded to this; however the changes will take time to have a positive effect on the front line.
Cheshire Constabulary is continually exploring new way of working with partners in order to reduce demand, reduce resources and improve service outcomes. The constabulary has engaged in a number of collaborative ventures, both operational and organisational, including the multi-force shared service model and a joint firearms capability, and is exploring more opportunities to collaborate with neighbouring forces. This includes ICT collaboration and a joint forensic services unit with Merseyside Police and North Wales Police. The constabulary is developing an innovative way to work collaboratively with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service to provide joint services in areas such as finance, technology and vehicle maintenance, as well as opportunities to share accommodation. Through the change management board, post-implementation reviews and benefit realisation analysis are completed for all change programmes and projects.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
Cheshire Constabulary is good at planning for demand in the future. The strategic planning framework ensures that financial resources and the workforce plan are aligned with the constabulary’s understanding of demand. The constabulary has a comprehensive ICT strategy that is aligned with the workforce and service plans.
The priority-based budgeting process includes an analysis of changes in the method of service provision which encourages budget holders to consider how digitisation and ICT could improve service standards or drive efficiencies within their units. Invest-to-save initiatives are encouraged as part of this process. However, Cheshire Constabulary has yet to implement fully the use of mobile devices to assist and drive efficiencies in frontline policing activities.
The constabulary’s medium-term financial strategy (MFTS) sets a budget until 2019/20 and the medium-term financial and workforce plans are based on credible and sensible assumptions. This includes a summary of potential high-level savings, expected funding and use of the reserves. The constabulary plans for the number of officers, staff and PCSOs to remain constant until 2019/20. This is reflected in the MTFS.