Thames Valley PEEL 2017
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Thames Valley Police is judged to be outstanding in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment this year is an improvement on last year when the force was judged to be good for efficiency overall. The force is judged to be outstanding in its understanding of demand; its use of resources to manage demand is also assessed to be outstanding; and its planning for future demand is judged to be good.
Thames Valley Police has an outstanding understanding of the demand for its services that is based on detailed analysis of a wide range of data, including from partner agencies such as the ambulance and fire and rescue services. The force is committed to understanding hidden demand and uses innovative technology to help it identify and tackle demand that is less likely to be reported. It takes steps to make sure that demand is not suppressed.
The force is also outstanding in how well it uses its resources. It has a good understanding of workforce skills and abilities through using the College of Policing’s competency and values framework, which sets out the national standards for workforce skills. It combines these with locally identified needs such as communication skills to describe and plan for the workforce skills it needs, now and in the future.
The force manages change programmes well, assessing new programmes against agreed criteria and whether proposed changes will support its priorities. The priority-based budgeting process gives the force a comprehensive understanding of the costs of its activities and the effect of moving resources from one part of the force to another. It is able to identify and analyse trends in demand and has a good understanding of likely future demand in many areas of its activities. The force is working with academic partners to include a wider range of information to develop this understanding. It is also is involved in a wide range of good collaborative work with other forces and agencies, and carefully assesses collaborative opportunities based on the benefits to the force.
Thames Valley Police is good in how it plans for the future, and some elements are outstanding. The force has displayed innovation, embracing and investing in technology. It uses external expertise such as financial and specialist IT consultancies to provide additional challenge, scrutiny and expertise for its saving plans. These savings plans project a balanced budget until 2021, but depend on the creation of more efficient ways of working. The force is investing well in its infrastructure to make this process possible.
How well does the force understand demand?
Thames Valley Police has an outstanding understanding of demand for its services based on systematic analysis of a wide range of information, including data from partner agencies such as the ambulance and fire and rescue services. The force has used ICT-based demand mapping technology along with staff focus groups to develop a sophisticated understanding of demand in most of its activity. It is committed to understanding demand that may be hidden and is making good use of innovative technologies, such as social networking and its own bespoke demand and vulnerability matrix using police and partnership data, to identify and deal with hidden demand. We found that the importance of identifying and dealing with hidden demand was understood by officers and staff at all levels.
The force has strong governance processes in place to ensure that it is efficient. It takes steps to prevent demand being suppressed and staff in the control room provide a prompt service to members of the public who contact the police by phone. The grading and response to incidents is well supervised. The force should continue to monitor the implementation of the new operating model to make sure that its understanding of demand remains up-to-date. It has robust processes to ensure that it tracks and realises the benefits from change.
The leadership of the force is committed to seeking out ideas and receiving feedback from the workforce. However, not everyone we spoke with felt their views would be valued so the force should ensure that it continues to involve all personnel in the changes it makes.
How well does the force use its resources?
Thames Valley Police is outstanding in how well it uses its resources. The force understands the current skills of its workforce and leaders, and what it will need in the future. The personal development review process is used well and the force maintains one overall database that details the skills of each member of the workforce. The force also conducted an operational skills audit to ensure the workforce has the right skills to operate within the new policing model. It develops the skills of its own personnel to meet its needs, but recognises that it needs to recruit externally for certain specialist skills, such as IT and tackling cyber-crime.
The force takes a systematic approach to how it prioritises its activities and uses resources that is based on the chief constable’s annual delivery plan. The plan is in line with the PCC’s priorities and demonstrates how the force has taken local and national needs into account as well as changing public expectations.
Priority-based budgeting and the force’s analysis of demand have given the force an understanding of the costs of each function. We have seen how the force uses that knowledge to shift resources to areas of greater need. We were particularly impressed by the robust approach the force took to assessing the effect of any change programme and return on investment. Each proposal is assessed against the chief constable’s delivery plan and proposed benefits are identified and tracked.
The force is involved in a wide range of collaborative work with other organisations, including other forces, ambulance and fire and rescue services, mental health services, social services and the probation service, to keep the public safe and to work more efficiently. It carefully assesses collaborative opportunities and makes its decisions on a case-by-case basis. Leaders in Thames Valley Police seek out new approaches to working more efficiently. For example, the force used external consultants to support its demand analysis and then purchased the software required and trained its own staff so that it can continue with this work.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
Thames Valley Police is good in how it plans for the future. Some elements of its approach are outstanding. The force has a comprehensive understanding of most demand. Its investment in demand analysis software means that it is able to identify and analyse trends in demand and it has a good understanding of most aspects of likely future demand. It has used the PCC’s consultation with the public as well as feedback from partner agencies and its own professional judgment to identify how public expectations are changing, although it could do more to make sure that it gathers a wider range of views. The force is making changes to how the public can contact and exchange information with the force online; this demonstrates how it is investing in IT infrastructure to save money, make better use of technology and provide a service that meets the changing expectations of the public.
The force has good processes in place to develop its leaders and has reshaped its leadership training to incorporate the standards contained in the College of Policing’s competency and values framework. It provides a good range of development opportunities and is leading the national work on the development of apprenticeships within policing, which will help identify more career pathways.
The force has displayed innovation, embracing and investing in technology to provide policing more efficiently and to ensure a better service to the public, such as its creation of a demand and vulnerability module. The force’s plans for the future are sound and built on good planning assumptions. It uses external expertise such as financial and specialist IT consultancies to provide additional challenge, scrutiny and expertise for its saving plans. It continues to invest in its infrastructure, particularly its estate, IT and communications equipment, to help achieve savings and improve its service over the next four years.