Northamptonshire PEEL 2017
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Northamptonshire 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 is judged to be good for its understanding of demand; its use of resources to manage demand is judged to require improvement; and it is judged to be good for its planning for future demand.
Northamptonshire Police has a good understanding of current demand for its services, based on sophisticated analysis of police data. The force has undertaken detailed analysis of demand and socio-economic and demographic changes, supported by demand modelling software. Its new demand monitoring framework will allow a more evidence-based and considered response to future resourcing decisions.
The force is reshaping its operating model to ensure policing services are aligned with each other. It has implemented a new process to identify wasteful or inefficient activity in its change programme and has introduced a single change board to provide more robust governance, oversight and management of the programme.
The force could improve its understanding of the skills of its workforce and what skills it will need in the future. It is currently under-resourced in some areas and is conducting recruitment campaigns, but these would be more effective if it had a detailed understanding of its current skills and gaps. The force recognises that it is not making the best use of its technology and has plans to address this. Although the force has methods of obtaining feedback from its workforce, these are not widely trusted and the workforce do not feel included in the change process.
Northamptonshire Police’s plans for the future are innovative and will change how it operates. Financial, estates (buildings and facilities) and workforce plans are becoming more closely aligned. The force is reducing its estate and associated running costs, and continues to engage actively with other agencies and neighbouring police forces. It intends to increase its collaboration with the Fire and Rescue Service and with other local police forces. The force is planning to save more than it needs to each year to provide some available funding for the future.
How well does the force understand demand?
Northamptonshire Police has a good understanding of current demand, based on sophisticated analysis of police data. The force has collected data on the frequency and types of calls for service from the public and the types of crime reported, including assessments of the time spent on each type of call or crime. It has worked with external consultants to refine its knowledge of demand using demand modelling software. This work is being extended by a demand-forecasting team that can add extra data sets. The force is therefore improving its understanding of future demand based on an analysis of current local crime trends, calls for service and national policing developments.
However, although it has done some analytical work to identify hidden demand in response to reports of child sexual exploitation and modern slavery, it has not analysed the extent of such cases, mainly because of a lack of capacity in the intelligence and analysis functions. This incomplete information means resources may not be being allocated appropriately and the workforce may not be being equipped or trained to deal with new or emerging crimes.
The force has introduced a one-off process to identify wasteful or inefficient activity in its change programme, but does not have an established long-term approach to this in its daily work. It recognises it is not making the best use of some of its technology. It introduced the multi-force shared service (MFSS) computer system, which covers human resources and finance functions. However, the workforce did not receive sufficient support to use all aspects of this system and so are using local spreadsheets to detail information such as workforce skills, deployments and sickness, meaning the information is not available to the whole force. The force has plans to address this by upgrading to a more user-friendly version of the system.
The force has recently streamlined its approach to change management by creating a single change board which provides a more robust approach to governance, oversight and the management of interdependencies such as the estates strategy or changes in technology. However, members of the workforce told us that recent change programmes have not yet achieved any improvements and that they do not feel involved in the changes. Although the force has ways of obtaining feedback from its workforce, these are not trusted by the whole workforce.
Areas for improvement
- The force should put in place better processes and governance to understand and realise the benefits of change programmes and collaborative work, and how they affect its ability to meet current and likely future demand efficiently.
How well does the force use its resources?
Northamptonshire Police is judged to require improvement in how it uses its resources. The force does not understand what skills it has or needs for the future in its officers, staff and PCSOs. It has conducted a skills audit for officers, but this only covered operational skills and training, not non-operational skills such as problem solving or personality types. There is no central record of the skills available in the workforce. The force has only a limited understanding of its leadership capabilities and lacks understanding of the leadership styles and capabilities it needs for the future. It is making some use of national recruitment initiatives to attract talent, but this would be more effective if it had a detailed understanding of its workforce and leadership skills and gaps.
The force prioritises activity based on its understanding of current demand, local priorities and national requirements, and applies an assessment of threat, risk and harm to inform decision making. It does not regularly move resources according to demand, which means work may not be distributed fairly throughout the force area. The force has developed a new demand monitoring framework to allow a more evidence-based and considered response to future resourcing decisions. This should help the force to understand the full impact of changes in response to variations in demand.
Northamptonshire Police demonstrates a commitment to joint working and has extensive regional collaboration arrangements. It has staff co-located with Northamptonshire County Council and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service as well as mental health professionals working within its control room. However, the force needs to improve its approach to monitoring benefits realisation and to evaluating collaborative working. It does not have a strategy to develop innovation as part of its organisational culture, which means that individual good ideas are not assessed or no progress is made with them.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that workforce planning covers all areas of policing and that there is a clear rationale, based on evidence, to re-organise staff to meet current and future demand.
- The force should undertake appropriate work to understand its workforce’s capabilities fully, 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.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
Northamptonshire Police is assessed to be good in its approach to future planning. The force is analysing detailed demographic and socio-economic data to inform and reshape its future model for policing. It understands trends in demand and can make some predictions about what demand will look like in the future. The force has a good understanding of how technology such as body-worn video cameras can help effective policing. It has also recognised that it can manage future demand better by making it easier for the public to access police services electronically. It has introduced online crime reporting and is aiming to implement an online method for updating victims.
The force does not have a co-ordinated talent management programme for police officers or staff, or a structured leadership development programme. It needs a more co-ordinated and considered approach to developing officers and staff so it has the leaders it will need for the future. Although it recruits externally, it does not have sufficient knowledge of its existing leadership skills and gaps to recruit people with the specific skills or leadership styles it needs.
The force’s plans for the future are innovative and will change how it operates. The change team has identified the main work that needs to be undertaken to drive improvements forward, including making the best use of the force’s main ICT systems, the introduction of cyber-kiosks to enable swifter examination of portable devices and unified access to partner data. However, a county-wide community safety partnership would improve the ability of local services to manage demand better in the future.
Financial, estates and workforce plans are becoming more closely aligned and there has been good progress since 2016. Increased collaboration with the Fire and Rescue Service and with local police forces is planned. The force is planning to save more than it needs to each year to provide some available funding for the future.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure its understanding of the demand for its services, and the expectations of the public, are kept up to date by regularly reviewing its evidence base. This should be conducted alongside local authorities, other emergency services and partner organisations, to ensure that it takes the necessary steps to meet current and likely future demand.