Bedfordshire PEEL 2018
How efficiently does the force operate and how sustainable are its services to the public?
Bedfordshire Police operates efficiently, and provides services that it can sustain in the future.
The force is good at assessing current demand and it has a detailed knowledge of current demand for its services. This knowledge has been aided by two processes: a detailed strategic demand assessment (SDA) and an effective budgeting process.
The force needs to reduce backlogs in crimes that are awaiting administrative finalisation. It is important for the force itself and the public to have full confidence in its crime data.
The force has a long-standing commitment to co-operating and collaborating with other police organisations. It has a history of collaboration with Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire constabularies, and the forces have an existing tri-force collaboration. Through collaboration, Bedfordshire Police has improved its demand management in key areas, including major crime.
The force needs to quickly resolve its issues with the new crime, custody and intelligence system. These are having an acute operational impact, and are reducing productivity in areas such as crime investigation.
The force requires improvement in the way it plans for the future. It should make sure that it understands public expectations better and monitors changes in them, to improve its decision making about future services.
The force should ensure that an effective human resources department supports its ambitious recruitment and staff development plans. It also needs to develop a comprehensive skills strategy to make sure that its staff have the right skills, and are prepared for future challenges.
How well does the force use its resources to meet the demand it faces?
Bedfordshire Police is good at assessing current demand. It has a detailed knowledge of the level of demand for its services. It has achieved this through a mature and effective process of monitoring demand, through its SDA). It is also completing a budgeting process, which has costed a range of services.
The force works well with statutory partners, such as Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, and Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire constabularies.
Sometimes, Bedfordshire Police has experienced difficulty in gaining the support of the three Bedfordshire unitary authorities in various areas of work. But it continues to develop a shared understanding of demand, so that it can scope future work.
The force’s recent changes in information and communications technology (ICT) haven’t led to operational benefits. Also, many key policing functions are being made more difficult because of issues with the operation and reliability of Athena. The force needs to make sure that staff process crime reports that are awaiting finalisation more quickly, and that they reduce current backlogs. The public relies on accurate crime data.
The force has carried out an SDA. This has involved risk assessing each of its functions and arriving at a risk rating for them. The force carries out this process every year, and revisits it mid-yearly for functions that it assesses as being “substantial, severe or critical” risks. The SDA has enabled the force to quickly align budgets and allocate resources to some areas of exceptional need. These areas include the emerald team. The force is still limited by a lack of detectives in some key areas. This process reliably informs the force management statement and the force’s priority-based budgeting processes. These enable the force to plan accurately.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it has enough, suitably trained officers aimed at reducing the current high levels of crime reports waiting to be categorised and closed correctly, so that confidence in force outcome data can be maintained.
How well does the force plan for the future?
Bedfordshire Police requires improvement in its planning for the future. It understands trends in demand and has effective ways of monitoring changes in demand. But these structures don’t yet take account of what the public views as important priorities, or how these views may change in the future. If the force is to reduce services in the future, it may find this knowledge valuable.
The force is working hard to increase staff numbers in critical areas and has embraced new ways of attracting the right people. It has implemented leadership programmes for officers and police staff. But current pressures on the human resources department, which it shares with collaborated forces, mean that support in recruitment and staff development isn’t always effective. Also, the force doesn’t yet have a good knowledge of its workforce’s existing skills, and what skills it will need in the future.
The force has clear priorities and a financial plan. But because of the way in which police budgets are set, the force is wholly reliant on short-term grants from central government. Also, it has limited reserves to draw on. This means that its current financial planning is based on unreliable assumptions.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it has a better understanding of public expectations, so it can monitor changes to them and consider opportunities to provide a better, more efficient service.
- The force should make sure that future recruitment and staff development are supported by a functional and adequately resourced human resources team.
- The force should develop a comprehensive skills strategy to identify what future capabilities its workforce will need.