Durham PEEL 2017
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Durham Constabulary is judged to be outstanding in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment this year is the same as last year. The constabulary is judged to be outstanding in its understanding of demand; its use of resources to manage demand is judged to be outstanding; and its planning for future demand is also assessed to be outstanding.
Durham Constabulary has an up-to-date and comprehensive demand assessment which provides an exceptional level of understanding of demand in its widest context, including in respect of issues that go beyond purely police activity. It has outstanding governance and evaluation processes in place to manage its change and improvement agendas. Evaluation is often conducted with an independent focus and is very detailed, so that the constabulary can assess what actually works in policing and can make improvements to service delivery and ensure its change programmes add real value to what it does. The chief officer team is very accessible and its members regularly go on patrol with officers; this breaks down barriers of rank and provides an opportunity for open dialogue. Opportunities to shadow the chief officer team for a day are often taken up by members of the workforce, and it is also possible for them to attend any meeting they want, regardless of its seniority; this, again, offers opportunity for members of the workforce at every level of the organisation to contribute to all areas of police work.
Durham Constabulary has carried out detailed skills analyses of its workforce and its leadership capability. This process is refreshed annually, and the strategic workforce plan links seamlessly with other strategic plans so that the organisation can plan for training and development requirements taking into account its changing demand profile and budget constraints. The constabulary could nonetheless look to improve its talent management arrangements, and how it makes postings, to ensure that members of the workforce have confidence in the fairness and legitimacy of these processes. The constabulary has extensive arrangements for collaborative working across many areas of policing, and constantly looks to work with partners (providing always that there are real benefits to the public).
The constabulary’s financial plans are detailed, and it has extensive and creative plans for the future to meet a wide range of possible situations, depending on what demands the future brings. The plans have been tested extensively, and examined independently, to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
How well does the force understand demand?
Durham Constabulary is excellent at understanding the demand it faces and the problems the future may bring. Its demand profiles are comprehensive and its analysis of current and future demand is very impressive. The work it has conducted to identify hidden demand is equally impressive, supported as it is by bespoke profiles in major risk areas such as violence against the person and child sexual exploitation.
The constabulary has an outstanding structure in place to manage its change agenda, and within that structure there are excellent governance and evaluation arrangements. The level of independent evaluation is excellent, enabling the constabulary to benefit from outside feedback so it can ensure its change programmes are actually making a difference and adding value.
The constabulary has a culture of inclusivity and constantly looks to its workforce to generate new ideas. There were numerous examples (over 140 within the ‘100 little things’ project alone) where the workforce have submitted ideas that have been acted on. HMICFRS found that the constabulary has an outstanding approach to seeking new ideas from its workforce, and the workforce informed us that they believed the organisation was committed to this.
How well does the force use its resources?
Durham Constabulary uses its resources effectively to meet its current challenges and plan how it will meet its future demands. The constabulary has a detailed understanding of the skills and capabilities of both the workforce as a whole and its leaders. This is facilitated by a recent review of all role profiles and an annual audit of skills and capabilities across the organisation. The constabulary has identified the skills required of its leaders and has mapped these across the College of Policing leadership qualities.
Durham Constabulary seeks to collaborate with other organisations wherever possible. The governance structures in place to monitor all collaboration activity and ensure that benefits are realised are very thorough and detailed, and as a result they and the evaluation processes are very effective. The financial plans supporting the governance structures are solid and have been subject to independent challenge to ensure they are realistic.
Durham Constabulary constantly looks to innovate and implement new ideas to improve its efficiency. We found the workforce felt empowered and confident to put ideas forward and any member of the workforce may attend any meeting or work for a day with a member of the chief officer team, which breaks down barriers and creates a culture of openness where ideas can be put forward. The ‘100 little things’ initiative is testament to how comfortable the workforce feel about doing this.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
Durham Constabulary has assessed its current demand profile in detail and has an excellent understanding of the issues affecting demand, what the component parts of its demand are, and what elements of that demand pose the greatest risk to the constabulary and the communities of Durham. It recognises the threats and opportunities posed by the changing technological landscape, and is investing heavily in information technology improvements and improving the skills of its workforce to ensure they are all digitally aware and digitally competent.
Durham Constabulary has recently appointed a new permanent deputy chief constable, who has been recruited from outside. This, with the other external appointments being made to a wide variety of positions across the organisation, shows that the constabulary is looking to ensure that it constantly brings new perspectives, approaches and ideas into it to ensure that it remains relevant to current circumstances and up to date in its thinking and approaches. The constabulary invests a great deal in leadership development but it could improve how this is provided to and accessed by its workforce, as there is little structure or transparency in how postings to some important roles are made. The constabulary needs to improve the use of the personal development process because the completion rate is not high at the moment; it should be used as a structured process for offering development opportunities.
The constabulary’s financial plans are based on sound planning assumptions that have undergone very detailed and extensive scenario planning to test their validity.