Gwent PEEL 2017
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Gwent Police is judged to be good in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment this year is the same as last year. The force has maintained a good understanding of demand; its use of resources to manage demand is assessed to be good; but its planning for future demand is judged to require improvement.
Gwent Police demonstrates a good understanding of the demand for its services and makes good use of technology to achieve this. The force understands how demand may be affected and demonstrates a good commitment to managing and prioritising its response to that demand. However, it does not have in place a plan to recover non-emergency abandoned calls and needs to do more to ensure it has a clear understanding of potential future demand for its services. The force encourages innovation and makes good use of technology to improve its services.
The force has a good understanding of the skills and capabilities it needs in its workforce now and in the future; however, this could be improved further with a better understanding of wider or ‘softer’ skills. The force manages its finances effectively and has the flexibility to meet any unforeseen demands for its services; however, it needs to do more to develop sustainable financial plans to guide future savings.
How well does the force understand demand?
Gwent Police has a comprehensive understanding of the full range of demand for its services but does not have in place a plan to recover non-emergency calls that are abandoned. It uses several effective techniques and processes to analyse demand and model trends and scenarios and has invested in technology in collaboration with South Wales Police to introduce greater efficiency to the way it manages its staff and its finances.
The force has good governance structures in place to identify waste and inefficiency. The structures also ensure that the benefits of change are realised and that any unintended negative consequences are addressed by conducting post- implementation reviews and introducing further change if necessary. The outcome of this better understanding of demand has been the early realisation of efficiency savings and more efficient service to the public provided by a more streamlined workforce.
The force seeks feedback effectively and responds well to ideas from the workforce. It has a comprehensive selection of ways in which staff can give feedback or put forward their ideas to senior leaders and was able to provide a number of examples where staff have put forward ideas that have been adopted by the force. Staff who come forward with ideas have the support of mentors who can assist them to write and present their bid to a panel. If successful, the person who has developed the idea is given the opportunity to work with people with the right skills and to use the funding made available through the panel to introduce and implement that idea.
Areas for improvement
- The force should develop a plan to recover non-emergency abandoned calls.
How well does the force use its resources?
Gwent Police makes good use of its resources. The force has a good understanding of the operational skills of its officers and staff, including what skills will be needed in future. However, it has little understanding of wider skills, including leadership skills and has yet to complete a skills audit. The force develops its workforce’s skills through continuous professional development and learning to address any identified skills gaps, yet there is little evidence that this understanding and recognition has been used to inform the force’s recruitment arrangements.
However, the force is clearly making some progress in this regard, as every new business case must include a skills audit and training plan. The force prioritises its activity on the basis of its understanding of current and future demand for its services, local priorities and national requirements, and uses demand modelling to review the outcome of decisions to reduce, maintain or increase resources to a specific function. This provides the force with a comprehensive understanding of the costs and benefits of being flexible with its resources. Its investment focuses on changing operational demands and enhancing capability and capacity, using the force change programme to prioritise those investments.
Gwent Police is committed to joint working with partner organisations, such as local authorities, health, education, social services, probation, private sector and voluntary sector organisations and has some statutory and non-statutory working arrangements in place to ensure that demand is managed efficiently across agencies. The force monitors the benefits of collaboration initiatives, and is prepared to abandon initiatives if they appear unlikely to produce the expected benefits. The force is proactive in seeking out new opportunities for service improvement, and its leaders demonstrate a willingness to experiment with new approaches. This has resulted in innovation and improved service to the public.
Areas for improvement
- The force should conduct a leadership skills audit that will allow it to understand leadership capacity and capability.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
Gwent Police’s understanding of future demand for its services is limited in its scope; as a consequence the force is unable to evaluate fully what its future demand will be. The force has some understanding of what the public want, but this understanding is not sophisticated enough to account for changing public expectations. However, it has commissioned research by Cardiff University to look at its full programme of engagement with the public, to understand better how this affects confidence levels and meets public expectations.
The force has not yet carried out a review of succession planning. It is planning to introduce talent management schemes and career pathways into the force. The force is open to recruiting and benchmarking externally and it makes some use of development positions for both staff and officers.
The force understands what technology can offer both policing and criminals, and how this is changing. It has embraced technology as a tool to shape its vision for the future, and is hoping to extend its use of technology into new areas. The force understands the importance of collaborative working, both with other police forces and with local authority partners. Considerable improvements in efficiency have been achieved through working in collaboration. The force has made significant savings since 2010/11 and many of these savings have been achieved ahead of schedule. It has plans in place to achieve further savings through the staying ahead programme. Although its track record is good and its financial plans are sound and based on very prudent assumptions about reductions in police funding, the medium-term savings currently planned are not yet sufficient to match those required and the force will be relying on using the PCC’s financial reserves to balance its budget over the coming years. It will be essential that the force is able to achieve sufficient sustainable savings to enable it to balance its budget in the longer term without reliance on these finite reserves.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure it has adequate plans in place to show it can provide services, while also making necessary future cost savings.