Suffolk PEEL 2017
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Suffolk 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 force is judged to be good in its understanding of demand; its use of resources to manage demand is assessed to be good; and its planning for future demand is also judged to be good.
Suffolk Constabulary has a good understanding of the current and likely future demand for its services that is based on research and analysis. The force analyses data from other public organisations, such as local councils, health services and the fire service. The joint performance and analysis department with Norfolk Constabulary does high-quality, innovative work, supported by robust academic research and scrutiny. The force has a good understanding of more complex and hidden demands (such as modern slavery and so-called honour-based violence) and has analysed demand that can be prevented or responded to by a more appropriate agency.
The force is largely effective in how it manages demand, using an assessment known as THRIVE to determine its response to incidents or calls for service. It recognises the implementation of several new systems over the last two years has increased internal demand and so it is recruiting extra staff into its incident crime management hub. It is also engaging a consultant to ensure the HR system is used to best effect. In addition the force has recognised that the way officers and staff record and allocate crimes is causing delays in investigation, so it is using officers on overtime to help ensure investigations progress more quickly while it recruits additional staff to resolve the problem.
Suffolk Constabulary has impressive joint working practices with other police forces and external organisations to help save money and improve the services it provides. For example, it has collaborated with Norfolk Constabulary on a revised ICT strategy and is sharing a number of premises with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service. The force has a culture of innovation and continuous improvement and encourages its workforce to suggest new ideas.
The force has developed its understanding of the current skills possessed by the workforce and has collated the operational skills of its officers, which are now stored and monitored centrally. However, it needs to do more to understand fully the range of skills that it will require for the future and its current and future leadership capabilities.
Suffolk Constabulary has a good record of making necessary savings through innovation and evidence-based decisions. It engaged external consultants to help develop a new approach to allocating money internally, called outcome-based budgeting, which gives it a better understanding of how it uses its resources and what is achieved as a result. Its plans for the future appear to be realistic and achievable, although it realises that making the required savings will be difficult.
How well does the force understand demand?
Suffolk Constabulary has a good understanding of its current demand, including more complex and hidden demand for its services such as modern slavery and so-called honour-based violence. The force analyses comprehensive data from other public organisations, such as local councils, health services and the fire service, to improve its understanding of demand. The joint performance and analysis department with Norfolk Constabulary is innovative and undertakes high-quality analysis supported by robust academic research and scrutiny. The force is able to anticipate fluctuations in demand throughout the year by using historical data and other sources of information and continues to develop its understanding of the factors that will affect demand in the longer term.
The force is effective in how it manages demand, using an assessment known as THRIVE to determine its response to incidents or calls for service. It is installing a new telephone system in the contact and control room to address problems identifying the number of callers to 101 who hang up before the force control room answer their call and who may then call 999 for less urgent matters. It recognises the increased internal demand created by the implementation of several new systems over the last two years and is recruiting extra staff into its incident crime management hub to enhance the service provided and is engaging a consultant to ensure the HR system is used to best effect. The force has recognised that the way that officers and staff record and allocate crimes is causing delays in investigation, so it is using officers on overtime to help ensure investigations make quicker progress while it recruits additional staff to resolve the problem.
Suffolk Constabulary is good at promoting innovation and encourages its workforce to suggest new ideas. The force is providing frontline staff with body-worn video cameras and mobile devices to enable them to work more efficiently when away from police premises. Officers and staff are aware of how to suggest new ways of working and are confident in doing so. The force tests these ideas to establish if they are more efficient before implementing them throughout the organisation.
Areas for improvement
- The force should put in place better processes and governance to understand its response to and allocation of crime, and how this affects the force’s ability to meet current and likely future demand efficiently.
How well does the force use its resources?
Overall, Suffolk Constabulary is good at how it uses its resources to meet demand and public expectations. The force has made good progress in understanding the current capabilities and gaps in skills among it police officers and what skills are needed in specific posts. It has collated the operational skills of its officers and these are now stored and monitored centrally. However, the force has not yet completed this work for police staff or non-operational units. The force’s training and support to develop its leaders is impressive: it provides expert training and Masters degrees in evidence-based policing for selected staff and has a joint leadership development programme with Norfolk Constabulary.
Suffolk Constabulary is good at prioritising its resources and uses them flexibly to meet demand. The force gathers information through the Better Policing Collaborative, work undertaken as part of the Suffolk Local Policing Review and outcome-based budgeting to inform its investment decisions. It has also employed a specialist to ensure it makes the most out of its investment in its new finance and HR system.
The force has well-established joint arrangements with other police forces, public services, voluntary organisations and the public to help save money and improve the services it provides. It has collaborated with Norfolk Constabulary on a revised ICT strategy, a regional head of procurement to make the procurement of goods and services more efficient, and a specialist unit to identify and investigate allegations of police corruption. Suffolk Constabulary has a strong commitment to innovation and identifying new ways of working, with a culture of trying new ideas that are evaluated robustly to establish what works.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
Suffolk Constabulary is good at planning for the future. The force uses data from a wide range of sources and other agencies, such as health, local authority and the voluntary sector, to analyse demand and identify trends. It has a programme of research and analysis, supported by robust academic evaluation through the Better Policing Collaborative, to help predict future demand.
The force uses a variety of ways to identify future leaders, including recognition by managers and supervisors, the Direct Entry scheme for inspectors and the Fast Track constable to inspector programme. However, it needs to do more to improve its understanding of what leadership skills it will require in the future. The annual staff appraisal and continued professional development plans help the force to identify the development needs of both officers and staff. The force is exploring opportunities to recruit external candidates with skills and experience that would benefit the organisation, such as degree-level entrants and people with previous investigative experience.
Suffolk Constabulary’s plans for the future are based on a wide range of data, academic research and evidence of what works and appear to be realistic and achievable. The force recognises it will need to use its workforce more flexibly in future with a greater reliance on volunteers if it is to meet changes and increases in crime. It works well with other forces and partner agencies to reduce costs but also realises that it needs to invest to make greater savings in future and improve the services it provides. The force has a joint ICT strategy with Suffolk Constabulary for 2017–20 that is awaiting approval which considers how new technology will support the force’s work in the future.