Cheshire PEEL 2017
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Cheshire Constabulary is judged to be good in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment is the same as last year. The constabulary has maintained a good understanding of demand; its use of resources to manage demand is judged to be good; and its planning for future demand is assessed to be outstanding.
Cheshire Constabulary is good in its efficiency of keeping people safe and reducing crime. It is good at predicting likely future demand and in doing so it considers a wide range of information and changing public expectations. It has invested in IT solutions, changing how it operates to make the constabulary more efficient and effective through agile working and infrastructure improvements for the future. It has excellent partnership and collaborative arrangements for managing its current and future demand, and has been swift in realising tangible benefits through new ways of working from its collaboration with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS).
The constabulary plans well ahead and invests in its leadership, providing excellent training and development as well as bringing in skills from outside the constabulary to fill skill gaps and introducing a wider range of styles and experience. The continued refinement of the constabulary’s priority-based budgeting (PBB) process has made it excellent in this area of management, and PBB is now completely rooted in all the constabulary processes for planning. It is used to continually review and improve the efficiency of the constabulary in meeting its demand and priorities, in line with the police and crime plan.
We have examined the constabulary’s financial plans; it has sufficient reserves and balanced budgets, and its plans are built on sound planning assumptions and subject to informed challenge. These plans include making investments to continue to make savings in the future through management of its estate, collaboration, IT processes and a major new operating system for its control room functions that should improve public contact, identification of demand and officer deployment. Cheshire Constabulary is very well placed to face the future.
How well does the force understand demand?
Cheshire Constabulary has a good understanding of its demand and those things that affect demand. The information it uses is wide-ranging and thorough. The constabulary has a detailed strategic threat and risk assessment and the constabulary now looks much further ahead in its planning and predictions, both locally and regionally. In doing this it takes into account the changing demographics of Cheshire and local authority plans that extend well into the future. The constabulary understands that the absence of reporting does not imply an absence of criminality, and has undertaken work to reveal hidden crime, including hate crime, historic abuse enquiries and modern-day slavery, linking these to its priorities. Changes to procedures and understanding the additional crime and investigation demand following HMICFRS’ separate crime data integrity inspection is being led by the chief officers.
The constabulary has a comprehensive, completely integrated method of planning in its priority-based budgeting process which allows it to make continual informed adjustments to how it operates to meet demand, to ensure it is as efficient as it can be. This process has been implemented across all constabulary departments over the past three years. The constabulary can evidence numerous project benefits through robust benefit realisation. This has taken the constabulary beyond looking at routine financial and business benefits, to now looking at the qualitative outcomes of investments made through the time saved and the importance of understanding what can be done with this time. The constabulary leadership is very clear on welcoming ideas for innovation and recognising them, and this was acknowledged by the majority of the workforce we spoke to during inspection, although further clarity of the process would be beneficial to reinforce this.
How well does the force use its resources?
Cheshire Constabulary has been assessed as good in the use of its resources to manage demand, with some elements of excellent practice. The constabulary understands the skills and capabilities of its workforce and is developing this further through an organisational capability review programme which should when completed, provide an advanced level of understanding and access to all skills through revised IT processes and role profiles for all the workforce. It has learnt from the implementation of its new operating model and made adjustments to improve this, and now plans much further ahead. It has a clear succession and recruitment plan to provide continuity in leadership. It has excellent leadership development for its supervisors, both police and staff, and has gone beyond looking at traditional rank skills to focus on the wider skills its leaders require to develop the workforce and retain and attract staff for the long-term benefit of the constabulary.
Since 2015 HMICFRS has recognised the value of the constabulary’s highly effective priority-based budgeting (PBB) process. This has been refined further and is constantly reviewed. It is thoroughly embedded throughout all departments. Using the overarching PCC and constabulary priorities, PBB provides a detailed understanding of resourcing and the effects on service levels of any changes made. The constabulary has excellent benefit realisation processes and now looks further than costs, towards quality benefits.
Cheshire Constabulary’s blue light collaboration with CFRS is now well-established and has already led to efficiencies through different ways of working together and changes to processes. The constabulary has provided training for CFRS staff to be better equipped to recognise vulnerability, increasing opportunities to refer people at risk. It understands the financial benefits of this investment in collaboration. The constabulary continues to innovate through the development of new IT platforms. Its control room system will be the first of its kind in the UK, and implementation of a shared intelligence system with North Wales and Merseyside Police forces is now scheduled for early 2018.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
Cheshire Constabulary is outstanding at planning for the future. The constabulary carries out extensive work to predict its likely future demand. This includes understanding how the demographics of Cheshire will change in the future, and how wider economic circumstances outside the county will affect it in the longer term. It has made investments in technology to meet public expectations in accessing its services and recognises the threats that technology presents through cyber-crime, organised and economic crime. The constabulary has extensive collaborative arrangements with other forces, and an excellent blue light collaboration locally with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service that is already seeing the benefits of this investment in managing demand more efficiently.
The constabulary is investing in its leadership through secondments, development opportunities and excellent leadership training. Newly promoted supervisors are provided with support, mentoring and training. All posts are advertised externally as the chief officer team is keen to develop new styles and diversity in leadership. This has brought new leaders into the workforce to fill skills gaps. There are ten Police Now graduates working in the constabulary, and a direct entry superintendent.
There is constant review from departmental leads to ensure there is a thorough understanding of planning progress. This is refined through the excellent PBB process to meet priorities and public expectations. The financial plans of the constabulary are built on sound planning assumptions and subject to informed challenge with innovation through IT investments that will change how the constabulary operates in the future. The constabulary continues to invest to save and is using reserves to maximise the opportunities presented for the future.