Leicestershire PEEL 2017
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Leicestershire Police is judged to require improvement in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. This overall judgment is not consistent with last year when we judged the force as good for efficiency overall. The force’s understanding of demand is judged to require improvement; it is judged to require improvement for its use of resources to manage demand; and its planning for future demand is judged to require improvement.
Leicestershire Police has recognised that its organisational structure is causing some inefficiencies. The force is addressing this through an extensive change programme that will see a reorganisation of its workforce and considerable changes in how incidents and investigations are managed. The way that the force currently prioritises and manages calls for service from the public creates delays in dealing with non-emergency incidents; it is taking steps to address this. The force is improving how it manages hidden demand and its workforce is becoming more aware of crimes such as human trafficking and so-called honour-based violence.
While the force has a sound understanding of the operational skills of its officers and staff, its understanding of the broader skills, experience and leadership capabilities of its workforce could be improved. The force should consider how it can further encourage talented people within its workforce; there is no formal development scheme and there is an inconsistent approach in how officers and staff identified as having high potential are developed. Encouragingly, the force seeks external applicants during promotion processes for police officers.
The force works in close collaboration with neighbouring police forces, achieving economies of scale for a broad range of specialist policing functions. It undertakes effective joint work with other local agencies, like local councils and other emergency services, but the benefits of some of these collaborations could be more fully assessed and then replicated more widely throughout the force.
It is investing in new technology, such as mobile devices for all frontline officers and staff, a new digital telephony system and better facilities to receive online contact from the public. These initiatives will help to improve the efficiency of the workforce. The force is also exploring how technology might improve the exchange of information between partner agencies to help predict future demand.
The force’s finances are stable and it has consistently met savings targets. However, it is entering a difficult period in which the workforce will be restructured so that the force can meet an increasing workload despite gaps in future budgets. The force will need to plan carefully to achieve a sustainable financial position, while meeting that increased demand.
How well does the force understand demand?
Leicestershire Police does not have a comprehensive understanding of current demand. It has recognised that its organisational structure, including where and how its officers and staff work, is causing inefficiencies and affecting the services the force can provide to the public. A programme of widespread changes, named Darwin, aims to improve processes to allow a better flow of tasks through the force and to where teams are located. The force’s understanding of demand is affected by the relatively high rates of telephone calls that are abandoned, approximately 20 percent. HMICFRS also found that the force is not recording about 24.2 percent of crimes, the equivalent of about 21,200 crimes a year. The force is beginning to expand its understanding of internal demand by assessing how frontline officers and staff spend their time. In addition, there is an increased awareness in the workforce about crimes such as human trafficking, so-called honour-based violence and online crime.
Officers and staff are experiencing growing workloads, which in some cases is distracting them from long-term activity aimed at preventing demand and meeting local needs. Demand is not always effectively prioritised, some incidents remain unresolved for long periods and are not the subject of reassessment, which risks disengagement by victims and witnesses. Some incidents considered suitable for neighbourhood teams are emailed to local supervisors, rather than allocated via the incident management computer system, and are being closed without attendance. This reduces the number of incidents that are unallocated, but means there is no record of whether the incident was dealt with.
The force takes care to ensure that benefits are realised from change programmes. It could do more to encourage the workforce to suggest improvements to the way work is carried out now and to promote innovative approaches for the future.
Areas for improvement
- The force should develop its understanding of demand, ensuring that it has analysed appropriate information and intelligence from wider sources.
- The force must ensure call-takers record the outcome of THRIVE assessments and formalise when those assessments are reviewed for unresolved incidents.
- The force should review how incidents are allocated to and resolved by neighbourhood teams, ensuring demand is not suppressed and the public receive an appropriate service.
How well does the force use its resources?
Leicestershire Police has a basic understanding of the skills it needs in its workforce. The force has not matched likely changes to the skills it will need among officers and staff with changes to crime trends or the demographics of the local population. It has also not assessed the skills its workforce holds, except for police officers at inspector rank and above. It does maintain records of training undertaken, but has not gathered information about the wider capabilities of its workforce, such as languages, transferable professional skills, academic attainment or leadership capabilities. The position is made worse by the inadequate use of the staff appraisal and development system. The force does not make clear what skills it needs leaders to have, and then support officers and staff to develop these skills. The force has a broad understanding of what training will be needed in the next 18 months to ensure people have the main operational skills required, but any shortages of skills or specific character traits are not informing its recruitment strategy. The force has prioritised investments sensibly to improve workforce diversity and introduce better technology for frontline officers and staff.
The force is sensitive to the needs of the community it serves and works to understand what matters to local people. It is committed to providing a neighbourhood policing presence in urban and rural locations. The force accepts that the current operating model is not fully effective and is not supporting its understanding of the full nature of demand. It does have some understanding of the effect redistributing the workforce will have on the services it provides, but this is confined to the perceived benefits of having more frontline officers. It is less clear what effect redistributing staff would have on the teams that supplied them. The force should be better equipped to understand the cost implications of different workforce structures and reconfigured teams when new software is introduced in late 2017.
Leicestershire Police has well-established relationships with partner agencies such as local councils, other public sector agencies and emergency services. It is seeking to highlight areas of mutual demand with them, promoting increased joint work and shared use of resources, but there are no formal plans agreed as yet. There are pockets of co-operative work with council and other emergency services staff, but the force has not assessed the resulting demand reduction or systematically shared any good practice. The force is heavily committed to collaborative working with other forces in the East Midlands region. It shares resources in seven separate units, which supply a wide array of specialist skills, and is exploring more joint working with neighbouring forces, primarily for ICT.
Officers and staff are not routinely considering what innovations can be brought to their work. However, the force is open to new ideas and supports research into policing techniques in co-operation with academia through the East Midlands Police Academic Collaboration.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure it understands fully its workforce’s capabilities, so that it can identify and address any gaps. These should enable the force to be efficient in meeting current and likely future demand.
- 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?
Leicestershire Police has limited capability to predict future demand. It needs more accurate data, such as the nature of phone calls and amount of crime recorded, to make effective plans that match resources to future demand, as well as wider information from partner agencies. It does have a sound understanding of what the local community wants but less understanding about how public expectations are changing. The force makes good use of social media and is gradually putting more services online. However, it is not assessing how other agencies are recognising and confronting changes in demand for their services.
The force is investing in technology, such as mobile devices and a new digital telephony system, to improve how frontline officers and staff work and how calls for service are handled. The force is exploring how technology might be used to draw on data from partner agencies to help predict future demand.
The force has extensive collaborative working arrangements with neighbouring forces and is considering other opportunities for common services like ICT facilities. There is joint work with other emergency services and the local council in some neighbourhoods, but the force does not assess the benefits and extend these to the rest of the force area.
Leicestershire Police does not have a recognised talent management system for officers or staff. We found few examples of officers or staff who had benefited from development opportunities. The force does seek external applicants during promotion processes for police officers and, in some cases, transferees for vacancies in specialist roles, but its use of national development and leadership programmes varies.
The force recognises that the complexity of its work is increasing and has realistic plans to improve ICT systems and remodel the workforce. It understands that efficiencies from new ways of working will not yield financial savings in the short term (because they have been designed mainly to meet current demand with existing resources) and that plans will need to be refined as demand becomes better understood and changes to the workforce structure take effect. The financial position of the force is stable, with a balanced budget for this financial year.
Areas for improvement
- The force should consider how to improve the identification and development of talent in the workforce.