North Wales PEEL 2017
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
North Wales Police is judged to require improvement in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment is not consistent with last year, when the force was assessed to be good for efficiency overall. The force has maintained a good understanding of current demand; its use of resources to manage demand is judged to require improvement; and it is judged to require improvement for its planning for future demand.
North Wales Police needs to improve its overall efficiency in keeping people safe and reducing crime, although there are some aspects of these duties that it manages well. The force is good at understanding the demand for its services and has well-established processes and systems for monitoring and understanding current demand. The force uses this understanding to deploy people and resources where they are needed most. This includes understanding demand that might otherwise go unreported.
The force’s leaders are becoming better at promoting innovative thinking to reduce demand, although big projects – such as those involving mobile technology – need to be implemented more quickly. North Wales Police requires improvement in the extent to which it uses its resources well. The force has not undertaken a skills audit of all its workforce that would improve its understanding of capacity and capability. This means it cannot use this understanding to help inform its recruitment, selection and promotion processes in order to identify the best people for the job, or to develop people in their roles. This applies to the force’s leaders too. There are processes to prioritise policing activity in response to changing public expectations, but leaders do not always use a clear rationale to reorganise the workforce to meet this demand.
North Wales Police requires improvement in the way it plans for the future. Leaders are beginning to undertake analysis of some roles to gain a clearer picture of how demand is changing, including likely future demand for its services, and the force is developing a long-term force plan which will draw all this work together. This plan will include making better use of technology, reducing partner resources and taking into consideration the views of local communities. However, at present the force does not have a single vision of the future to bring all this activity together, thereby enabling it to meet future demand. The force’s plans for the future are realistic but are not transformative. Evidence of dynamic innovation within the organisation is limited in comparison with other forces. However, the force is good at continuing to make savings, which means that it is able to invest well in infrastructure to make additional savings in the future.
How well does the force understand demand?
North Wales Police has a good understanding of demand. The force has well-established processes and systems that allow it to monitor and understand current demand, and it uses this understanding in its deployment of people and resources. It is taking steps to reduce demand in a number of ways, an approach which is achieving reductions in calls for service. This is freeing up time for frontline officers to deal with those incidents which require police attendance. It is also able to change levels of service in response to predictive and preventative data analysis.
The force has a good understanding of demand that might otherwise be unreported, and works with communities that have less trust in the police to ensure that victims from all sorts of backgrounds receive the support they need.
The force takes seriously the need to reduce inefficiency and has structures and processes in place to ensure that bureaucracy and waste are minimised. In doing so, it is mindful of the need to avoid suppressing demand that requires a police response, and has checks and balances in place to ensure this cannot happen. Although the force does not have a single overarching change programme, its efficiency review is achieving tangible benefits across a broad range of policing activities. Leaders encourage the workforce to take an active part in developing new ways of working, in order to make North Wales Police more efficient.
Areas for improvement
- The force should develop its understanding of more complex and hidden demand, ensuring that it has analysed appropriate information and intelligence from wider sources in developing problem profiles in order that it can plan its response more effectively.
How well does the force use its resources?
North Wales Police requires improvement in the efficiency with which it uses its resources. The force has not undertaken a skills audit of all its workforce that would improve its understanding of capacity and capability. This limits the force’s ability to recognise its development needs, leadership potential and whether its workforce are in the right roles. It is also preventing the force from undertaking recruitment, selection and promotion exercises based on a proper appreciation of its current skills, and the skills it will need in the future.
More encouragingly, the force has a number of promising initiatives in development, or which have been introduced recently, with the potential to address this lack of understanding. The force has well-structured processes to prioritise policing activity, but does not always use clear rationale, based on evidence, to deploy officers and staff where they are needed, or may be needed in the future.
North Wales Police is good at prioritising its investments and understanding the returns. It is also good at working with other partners, and can articulate the benefits of doing so. However, leaders need to be more willing to experiment with new ideas and approaches to speed up the pace of change. Failure to do so may become a barrier to the force managing workforce reductions with minimal effect on service.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it understands the level of service that can be provided at different levels of costs, so it can identify the optimum level of service provision.
- The force should ensure that workforce planning covers all areas of policing and that there is a clear rationale, based on evidence, to reorganise staff to meet current and future demand.
- The force should undertake appropriate activities to fully understand its workforce’s capabilities, in order to identify any gaps and put plans in place to address them. This will enable the force to be confident in its ability to be efficient in meeting current and likely future demand.
- The force should conduct a leadership skills audit of officers and staff that will allow it to understand leadership capacity and capability.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
North Wales Police requires improvement in the way that the force plans for the future. The force is beginning to undertake analysis of some roles to obtain a clearer picture of how demand is changing, and likely future demand for its services. It is acquiring additional staff to undertake resource planning and predictive analysis to help with this process. The force is good at engaging with the public in order to understand their expectations better, but it does not yet have a programme of work which takes into account this understanding, along with other factors which might affect demand in the future. The force intends to develop a longer-term force plan to draw this work together and has recently appointed a senior police officer to oversee this work.
The force has not yet undertaken a skills audit of all its workforce that would allow it to understand its capacity and capability better. This limits the force’s ability to understand its leadership potential, to develop leaders into roles and to plan for gaps in leadership capability. North Wales Police’s plans for the future are realistic, but not transformative; evidence of quick innovation within the organisation is comparatively weak. However, the force is good at continuing to make savings; this means that it is able to invest in infrastructure to make further savings in the future.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve the extent to which it reviews and analyses its evidence base to predict likely future demand for services and the future expectations of the public, and should use this analysis in its planning. This should be done in collaboration with local authorities, other emergency services and partner organisations.