Lancashire PEEL 2017
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Lancashire Constabulary 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 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 also judged to be good.
Lancashire Constabulary has a good understanding of the current and future demand for its services. As part of a comprehensive change programme, well-established teams consider demand across a broad range of services with the objective of developing a force that can meet the future needs of the public. Since HMICFRS’ 2016 efficiency inspection, the constabulary has improved its understanding of more complex demand. It has a detailed understanding of the demand that comes into the control room. The processes that are in place to manage that demand have been explored in detail to identify inefficiencies and duplication of effort. Changes are being made to improve the call handling service, increasing capacity and capability while reducing cost. A similarly detailed understanding of the complex partnership processes that provide support to vulnerable people allows the constabulary to be more specific in matching its resources to priorities and improve the timeliness of decision making in the services it provides.
Good arrangements are in place to ensure the change programmes are properly co-ordinated and any unintended consequences are identified and avoided. The constabulary is committed to a programme of reducing demand by early intervention. It works with local partner organisations to provide coordinated support to those communities and individuals most in need. Strong relationships exist with public service partners to manage demand collectively. The constabulary is ensuring that it is recruiting and developing the right skills and capabilities within the workforce and among its leaders to support this different approach to managing demand. Lancashire Constabulary has prudent financial plans in place to meet future funding challenges. It also has a well-considered programme of investment to ensure that it can adapt how it operates to provide services in the future that meet the needs and expectations of the public.
How well does the force understand demand?
Lancashire Constabulary has a good understanding of its current demand for services and the things that affect this. The constabulary has taken a systematic approach to developing this understanding, so as to avoid duplication. It has conducted detailed analysis of call handling and contact management processes, which has provided the evidence needed to trial potentially significant changes with confidence. By developing the right cultural environment for change through its organisational development framework, the constabulary is confident that its change programme will provide lasting solutions.
In its examination of the multi-agency safeguarding hub processes, the constabulary has extended its systems-thinking approach to a more complex area: partnership working. While not yet complete, early indications are promising. Plans are in place to extend the approach to crime investigation. This will complete the resourcing information needed and enable the constabulary to plan frontline resources to meet current and future demand for services. The constabulary recognises that it needs to do more work to understand fully the demand that is less likely to be reported. This is reflected within its strategic assessment and in its partnership intelligence assessment plan. The commitment to early action shows that the effective management of demand for service is a fundamental objective for the constabulary.
How well does the force use its resources?
The demand work in each of the change programmes is providing the constabulary with a clear picture of the level of resource and skills it needs to meet current demand for services. The constabulary holds a basic policing skills database but a meaningful skills and capability audit has not been conducted across the workforce, which means that the constabulary’s understanding is not comprehensive. Each of the constabulary’s change programmes includes an analysis of the current and future workforce mix to align the right skills to the right roles and so provide an efficient, capable service.
The constabulary is taking positive steps to ensure it can access the skills it needs for the future. A combination of measures is addressing short and medium-term needs, including: the use of national recruitment programmes; bringing in transferees with particular skill sets; a redesign of the promotion and recruitment process; and a focus on closing skills gaps, such as in IT and vulnerability. In the long term, a review of the workforce mix aims to address the skills requirements for the future. Detailed leadership development plans are in place and, in partnership with Lancaster University Management School a programme is provided that is valued by officers and staff. However, the emphasis appears to be on the development of individual understanding of leadership skills and more could be done to improve the constabulary’s understanding of collective leadership. In addition, there currently appears to be a gap in the leadership skills training provided to senior leaders as opposed to frontline supervisors. More, therefore, needs to be done to improve leadership training at first-line manager level to ensure that the constabulary has the skills it needs in future leaders.
The constabulary allocates its resources well and has a good understanding as to where and when it needs to vary its levels of service to meet changes in demand and/or reduce cost. It has made sensible investments for the future and has good collaborative working arrangements in place at all levels across the constabulary.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
Lancashire Constabulary is good in how well it is planning for the future. The constabulary has various means of identifying trends in demand for its services. It has a clear vision as to how it will meet future demand and this is reflected in its plans to develop early action and place-based policing. It is developing its approach to succession planning for senior leaders, but it does not have a comprehensive skills and capabilities audit in place to understand fully the collective leadership skills within its teams.
The ICT strategy is in place and supports the constabulary’s intentions, and progress is being made in understanding the broader digital needs and risks from technology. The constabulary is applying the organisational learning from the implementation of the first phase of its Connect solution to phase two, to ensure that it meets the needs of the workforce. The constabulary has strong links with academic institutions and these are being developed further; the new forensic academy being a good example. Work to collaborate with the fire service continues and all emergency services have agreed a single priority of supporting the vulnerable; this has established a good foundation for future collaborative working.
The constabulary has a good track record in managing its finances. Good financial plans are in place to support the future plans and meet savings requirements, and these have been tested by external auditors and found to be acceptable.