Derbyshire PEEL 2018
How efficiently does the force operate and how sustainable are its services to the public?
Derbyshire Constabulary needs to improve how efficiently it operates. It also needs to improve the sustainability of its services to the public. This is a decline from the judgment of ‘good’ that the force received from our last inspection of this area in 2017.
The force needs to make better use of its own data, and that of other organisations, to understand the nature and composition of the demand it faces. The force’s recent investments have increased the amount of skilled staff and technology that are available to analyse data and identify efficiencies. This is a timely step, because demand (especially demand relating to investigations) is increasing significantly, following changes the force has made to more accurately record crime.
Talent management programmes are available to the whole workforce. The force has more ways of attracting new officers (both new recruits and transferees). As a result, the force can now choose the best candidates from a wider pool.
The force has a culture of constantly seeking innovation. It encourages its workforce to try new approaches that improve services to the public and save money.
The force’s financial plans are built on prudent assumptions, including how it will use available reserves. It has forecast budget gaps for each of the next two financial years, but it has yet to develop detailed plans to meet them.
The force does not have comprehensive information about the skills held by the whole workforce. It also needs to develop a better understanding about how it will organise and train the workforce to meet future demand.
How well does the force use its resources to meet the demand it faces?
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its understanding of the impact that partner organisations have on demand and should further improve data-sharing arrangements with partner organisations.
- The force should consider how to more effectively promote messages about why changes are needed and how quickly amongst all leaders.
- The force should ensure that its prioritisation and allocation of demand takes full account of the risks of inadvertently suppressing demand.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
Assessing current demand
Derbyshire Constabulary needs to better understand the demand for its services. Recently (and since our last PEEL efficiency inspection, published in November 2017), the force has seen a considerable increase in the amount of crime that it records. The overall impact of that increase is only beginning to be determined. The implications for the force on demand aren’t yet clear. Senior leaders have recognised this, and have started to make the changes necessary for improvement to happen.
In early 2019, the force invested in creating a new business change team. The team is comprised of staff with the relevant specialist skills. Sophisticated computer applications enable them to fully analyse the demand that the force faces, and how well it meets that demand.
In autumn 2019, a demand dashboard is due to be launched. According to trials, the dashboard will enable the force to collate and analyse information from across all its computer systems, instantly, for the first time.
While this promises to be a major step forward, the force will continue to rely on its own data for analysis about fluctuations and trends in demand. It gathers most of its data about demand from the volume and type of calls for service it receives, and the number of investigations it carries out. It should look to broaden its understanding further by regular analysis of a wider range of data. It could gather this from other organisations, and the public, in order to gain a complete understanding of demand.
As mentioned earlier in this report, the force has been under-recording crime by a significant margin. And its changes are only starting to take effect to remedy this situation. As a result, the force can’t accurately determine the nature and types of demand that it currently faces. It is also very difficult for senior leaders to understand how much further demand will result from these changes, and whether current processes for managing its investigation-related workload are optimal. Senior leaders do acknowledge the gaps in their understanding. They also recognise that judgments about workforce structure and performance must be sensitive to the likelihood of new (or extra) work connected to rectifying under-recording, while the force makes its crime-related data more stable.
The force has a good understanding of forms of demand that are usually hidden in the local community. Frontline staff have improved their ability to recognise more subtle signs that a person is vulnerable. This has been driven by the force’s commitment to tackle modern slavery and forced labour, and, cyber-crime. Better awareness and response to each of these less obvious types of crime means the force can better match resources to demand.
The force has reallocated resources to deal with operational pressures. In early 2019, following an increase in the council tax precept, it both grew and realigned its workforce. At that time, it identified that its greatest pressures related to how it carried out safeguarding activity, and the public’s expectations of visible policing (specifically, having officers carry out community policing so that there is a reduction in anti-social behaviour). The force created new posts to address both these issues. The force also recruited 22 new staff (as opposed to officers) to increase its number of investigators. That decision has proved to be valuable as the force’s general investigative workload begins to increase.
During our inspection fieldwork, we spoke to officers and staff from several stations, as well as to teams that are based at the force’s headquarters. Very few who work in frontline teams felt under pressure to meet demand. Conversely, call handlers and staff who are involved in managing referrals about vulnerable people are feeling increases in demand and expectation. Senior leaders must carefully monitor how these teams are coping in light of recent changes to their roles. They should also be prepared to move resources again to meet demand.
Understanding factors that influence demand
The force is beginning to get better at understanding how efficient working practices can both reduce demand and enable it to make better use of resources. Recently, the force established a change team. This team aims to improve ineffective business processes and introduce new efficiencies. It has already made improvements, including using new technology to:
- streamline the analysis of intelligence;
- allocate and monitor tasks to frontline teams more quickly; and
- carry out operational briefings and training by video link, so that travel isn’t always necessary.
The force asks the workforce to contribute to change programmes, and to submit suggestions for improvement. Earlier this year, it concluded a review of its neighbourhood policing function. This review included regular consultation with practitioners in the force, and focus groups, to test the reactions to proposed changes.
‘Idea drop’ is a staff suggestion scheme. During our inspection fieldwork, the workforce was familiar with the scheme. The change team considers all the ideas. A notable example of how the scheme produces better ways of working followed one team’s request for more printers. The change team found that the team was printing documents and then reprinting them after only minor amendments. Rather than buying more printers, the change team instead activated a software upgrade that was already covered by the force’s existing licensing agreement. It did this at no extra cost. As a result, no printing was needed at all and workflow was improved.
During our inspection fieldwork, there were no examples of the force intentionally suppressing demand. Nonetheless, chief officers must remain alert to the risk of this in local practice (specifically, in roles that involve risk assessment). Incidents that are categorised as lower risk tend to generate less demand for forces, and reduce overall workloads. Currently, the force is referring fewer high-risk domestic abuse cases to the MARAC than we would expect. This could be a consequence of downgrading.
Staff at the force’s contact management centre are having to come to terms with increased responsibility and workloads, as well as instructions to resolve investigations quickly. As a result, there is a particular risk of demand suppression (inadvertent or otherwise) during their initial contact with the public.
Working with others to meet demand
Derbyshire Constabulary has strong relationships with other organisations. But it needs to do more to improve how it works collectively to understand and meet demand. Senior leaders understand well the benefits of collaboration with other forces. Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service is the force’s primary business partner. There is steady growth in the amount of staff and estate that the two
At present, there are few instances of the force working closely with other partner organisations to meet demand. In late 2018, the force launched a new approach that has shown the benefits of analysis, co-operation and problem solving between organisations. It involves the joint engagement team identifying people who contact the force most often and who have mental health conditions. As a result of analysis of force records, and information sharing with mental health practitioners, a small number of these people (six at any given time) now benefit from intensive support that meets their specific needs. When these people contact the police, a pre-arranged plan is activated that is unique to them and they are quickly given the help they need. This approach reduces demand on the police and other organisations: it resolves incidents swiftly, using fewer resources; and it resolves them in a way that helps people effectively.
In early 2019, chief officers commissioned a review to assess the status and effectiveness of the local community safety partnerships. According to the review, relationships within the partnerships lacked coherence, and a more fractured approach was developing as a result of declining resources. It wasn’t within the scope of the review for the force to compile or extensively analyse data held by partner organisations. Some information is available to the force from the Safer Derbyshire research partnership, but the force doesn’t access the source data to conduct its own analysis.
The scale of demand that police forces face can be affected by information about the size and composition of the local population; use of other public services; and infrastructure development. Derbyshire Constabulary should make greater efforts to access and analyse more external data (that is, data from outside the force). This will enable it to develop a comprehensive understanding of how demand for its services is changing.
On the basis of judgments reached by the internal review, the force created a new team: the department for partnerships and prevention. A senior police officer leads this team, which is comprised of people from the force and the fire service. The team’s purpose is to forge closer links between the force and community safety partners, and bring a greater collective focus to the prevention of crime and other forms of harm that people experience.
The introduction of the joint engagement team and the force’s general ambition to work better with other organisations are both encouraging signs. But the force must continue to explore and develop further opportunities.
When we visited stations during our inspection fieldwork, there were variations, both in approach and in team structures, for dealing with similar demand. We acknowledge that absolute uniformity is neither realistic nor appropriate. But widespread use of reactive approaches to growing demand isn’t an efficient and effective way for the force to operate. Senior officers should keep careful oversight of the scale of localised reactions, as well as the degree of differences in approach that the various stations have developed to meet demand.
Innovation and new opportunities
Derbyshire Constabulary is good at seeking innovation. It is also good at implementing new ideas, and at promoting an atmosphere of organisational learning. Senior leaders have worked hard to establish a culture of progressive thinking across the whole workforce. Everyone we spoke to felt that they could contribute to discussions to improve the way that things are done within the force.
Senior leaders show a desire to take best practice from other organisations and institutions. The business change team has regular contact with academia, private industry and other police bodies, to seek and adopt new (and better) practices. The force has commissioned research for postgraduate students to explore complex aspects of managing demand. It also offers internships to graduates in subjects that match themes within its change programme.
The force’s revitalised intranet, called ‘Connect’, has encouraged a far more conversational style of contact between the workforce and those who have an influential role in making changes. According to the force’s figures, Idea drop has received more than 1,000 unique suggestions. The force displays every suggestion on Connect, where people can add comments. This is an effective way to rationalise and share ideas. The change team researches ideas that it takes forward, and that can be circulated for assessment and opinion within the business change network. That group (also known as the ‘shadow board’) comprises 53 officers and staff who have volunteered to help add practitioner context to change programmes as the force develops them.
It is to the force’s credit that significant energy and pace are involved in the development of new ideas. Since our last inspection, chief officers have shown a consistent appetite for making changes, and they aren’t confined in their thinking about where to find innovations. The force has greatly expanded routes of entry for new or transferring officers, and for new staff who have specialist analytical and business skills. Officers and staff from middle management spend time with successful local companies to learn about different leadership styles, workplace cultures and ways of enhancing productivity. The force has also regularly worked with consultants to help identify more efficient ways to organise the workforce (specifically, to bring alternative perspectives and best practice from other organisations).
Investment and benefits
The force makes sound and rational investments. But it doesn’t consistently produce evidence of the benefits of each one. In 2018, for example, the force made a significant capital investment to upgrade its information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, and to equip officers and staff with better mobile devices. During our inspection fieldwork, it was clear that the workforce values the reliability and capacity of the ICT systems, and that frontline teams are very satisfied with the quality and functionality of the mobile devices. But we couldn’t determine how much assessment the force had carried out as to the benefits achieved by either of these investments, whether in terms of greater operational benefits or time saved.
Senior leaders understand that the force needs to make financial savings in the medium term (that is, after the current financial year). The force has created two new roles for business specialists within the change team. These posts exist to better track the benefits arising from efficiency programmes and investments that are designed to release cash savings. The force expected to fill those posts in summer 2019. The posts will reinforce the more sophisticated approach that was taking shape during our fieldwork, whereby the force is seeking to better understand its business process.
Prioritising different types of demand
Derbyshire Constabulary prioritises activity on the basis of a limited understanding of current demand. But it does support local priorities, national requirements and public expectations.
Senior leaders have taken care to determine what matters most to the public. They have also taken care in relation to how the force should use resources to meet demand. This is especially the case with the additional resources that it has been afforded from extra funds as a result of an increase in the council tax precept.
The force’s decisions relied heavily on the results of research that an independent company carried out in 2018. The company analysed demand; recommended how some parts of the force could be reorganised; and projected benefits that were likely to arise from increased resources. This was a pragmatic approach by the force, given that similar analytical skills weren’t available within the workforce.
Since then, however, the amount of crime that the force is recording has changed considerably. Also, it has become a high priority for the force to react accordingly. The volume of crime that any force deals with has a significant influence on how well it can meet demand with the resources that are available to it. So far, the force has made changes to existing processes to accommodate growing demand. A small team works to improve workforce skills; to check for signs that the quality of investigations isn’t falling; and to check that workloads remain manageable. Chief officers must remain vigilant about each of these factors. And they must be prepared to reconsider workforce allocation if adverse signs begin to show.
Assigning resources to demand and understanding their costs
The force is developing a more sophisticated understanding of the costs of its services, and the implications of reorganising the workforce to meet demand. We were surprised to find that leaders across the workforce haven’t fully grasped the need to understand each of these factors.
Chief officers, and those who are involved in business change, do see how the force needs to evolve. But that isn’t the case among middle managers. During our inspection fieldwork, there were references in force documents to meeting challenges on the basis of a ‘single version of the truth’, meaning that a clear purpose should be agreed and a consistent approach taken by the whole workforce. The force should consider how it can promote more effectively messages about why (and how quickly) changes are needed.
There have been some positive examples of the force rearranging its resources to help meet demand. The force has created the new role of police community support officer (PCSO) supervisor. This is to offset the wide range of responsibilities that police sergeants (who previously supervised all PCSOs) now have. Similarly, the force’s recruitment of 22 staff to carry out investigations will help it to meet growing demand. Because they aren’t police officers, their initial training will be quicker and they are less likely to be moved to other duties. The force has bolstered other specialist teams with 13 new officers for roads policing and tackling rural crime. This will result in more roads safety activity, and officers spending more time among agricultural and remote communities.
Derbyshire Constabulary has only a basic understanding of its workforce’s skills. Its systems can only report the operational or role-specific training that staff have received. However, the force is developing a new system that will expand the amount of information that it holds about the workforce’s skills. This will include information about educational attainment, career ambitions and relevant skills (such as foreign languages). The force has compiled the details of all superintendents, by way of trialling the system, which is now being tested. The force has asked much of the workforce for their opinions about the new system.
The force envisages that the new system will bring various advantages to operational activity. For instance, the system should make it easier for the force to quickly identify people with skills for specific circumstances. It can also be used to identify skills gaps, and inform succession planning. Before the system can become fully effective, the force will need to carry out a comprehensive skills audit of the workforce.
When we spoke to members of the workforce, almost all of them had enough skills to carry out their role fully. And they could access support to bridge any gaps, if necessary.
Compared with our past inspections, the force now shows a new appetite for attracting external officers and staff. During 2019, the force has recruited officers and staff to fill certain skills gaps. It has also made creative use of existing relationships with academia to underpin research. And it has made very precise use of contractors to bring expertise to complex projects involving ICT and data analysis.
More efficient ways of working
The force is committed to finding ways of working that are more efficient, and that improve the range of services it offers to the public.
The force is making better use of technology. It is using more sophisticated systems and techniques to analyse and present data linked to demand. It has developed opportunities to streamline several processes via the National Enabling Programmes. It is seeking to enhance the benefits that come from collaborating closely with other organisations.
The force has a strong track record of making savings and managing its finances well. It has balanced the budget for the current financial year. This reflects the prudent approach it took to financial assumptions when it initially set the budget. As a result, when the force has experienced reasonably foreseeable increases in costs during the year (such as pay rises), their impact has been lower than it budgeted for. This has helped it to avoid over-expenditure.
Working with others
The force continues to show its commitment to joint working and collaboration. But it isn’t clear that it rigorously evaluates all collaborative activity.
The force shares a collaboration board with Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service. The board aims to oversee activity, and to identify opportunities for closer working and to generate efficiencies. There are outline plans for the force and the fire service to share more buildings. The force estimates that, in the next 15 years, it could spend approximately £100m in maintaining its current estate. It is actively seeking ways to either avoid or share these costs. It will make any such decisions in line with the national One Public Estate programme. It will also consider the feasibility of sharing buildings with other public organisations, as part of its decision-making process.
The force has a history of collaborating with neighbouring police forces. They help it to meet demand relating to complex investigations, including counter-terrorism. They also offer help with matters relating to human resources; training and recruitment; and legal services.
The force does some joint working with other agencies, such as mental health services that supply practitioners to support the mental health triage facility. But this joint working focuses on specific activity or cases, rather than on meeting local demand collectively. The force is increasing its co-operation with mental healthcare providers.
In terms of how the force works with other organisations to support vulnerable people, it should consider whether each of the MARAC and MASH processes have enough resources to maximise their benefit. The MARAC meetings are lengthy and only take place fortnightly. This means that there can be a two-week wait for high-risk domestic abuse cases to be brought before multiple agencies so that support can be actioned.
Having visited both MASH sites, it is apparent that they could be more effective if there was a greater presence of all the agencies that can contribute.
The force should act with partner organisations to make sure that specialist staff are giving attention and support to all appropriate domestic abuse and vulnerable person referrals as quickly as possible.
The force is using technology well to fight crime, meet demand and achieve efficiencies. Its investments in technology, dating back to 2017, have resulted in more robust, contemporary and effective systems being in place. The frontline teams use handheld devices, which are popular and have been described as being easy to use. The devices accommodate almost all the tasks that the teams carry out. Some specialist staff (who deal with digital investigations and sexual offenders) suggested that more training and advanced technology might bring greater impact to their role.
During our fieldwork, a consistent theme was that the force’s computer systems rarely work well in relation to the systems used by partner organisations (beyond applications for email and documents). It is rare for the force to migrate or share access to information, records and data. The force might consider whether this inhibits the quality of analysis that it carries out, as well as its efficiency in general.Summary for question 1
How well does the force plan for the future?
Areas for improvement
- The force should develop a better understanding of the skills the workforce will need to meet future demand.
- The force should devise detailed plans for making the financial savings it requires in the coming financial years.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
Assessing future demand for services
Derbyshire Constabulary has a limited understanding of how demand will change in the future. It doesn’t have an overarching demand strategy. Recently, however, it completed a detailed self-assessment resulting in a ‘demand management roadmap’. This document will, in turn, form the basis for how future demand and organisation of resources will take place. Previously, the force has worked with external consultants to map and forecast demand. Now, it is building its own capacity to do so and its recently recruited specialist staff are using new technology to analyse a much broader range of data.
As mentioned earlier in this report, call handlers’ responsibilities have recently increased. During our fieldwork, the changes to their role had been established for fewer than two months. As such, it was too soon for the force to have formed a reliable judgment about the future demand that these staff will experience. Senior leaders must continue to scrutinise call handlers’ workloads, including whether calls from the public aren’t being answered.
During the same time frame, the force has started to reconsider existing forecasts for future trends of some types of crime. Its first step has been to update statistical controls that it uses for predictions, although this will continue to change. According to assumptions that the force used in spring 2019, there will be a 14 percent increase in total recorded crime by 2022/23. However, this figure has subsequently been revised again and also now includes more detail about different types of crime that the force is recording. While this work is in its infancy, it shows a positive attitude by chief officers towards developing information quickly. It also shows that the force has the skills available to produce assumptions that can then be tested.
The force has plans to mitigate the demand that is generated by calls for service from the public. It has adopted the ‘single online home’ website model. This enables the public to make enquiries and carry out other actions online, without needing to call the police.
The force is introducing a new digital telephony system. This will be fully functional by March 2020. The system has many features that will increase the efficiency with which staff handle calls (such as automating the creation of records and populating data fields). It will also support better self-service for callers and introduce a call-back function so that callers don’t have to wait in queues or lose their place in a queue if they hang up.
The force is also exploring the use of technology to measure demand. It is working with the provider of its workforce mobile devices to enable a form of activity analysis. This means that the force will be able to automatically accrue data about how the workforce uses its time, so that it can tackle inefficiencies.
Understanding public expectations
The force understands public expectations, and it has reorganised parts of the workforce to reflect them. It uses several methods to gather public opinion. These range from annual surveys and gathering the perceptions of partner organisations to public consultation meetings (which the police and crime commissioner [PCC] carries out) and forums for the public that are hosted by safer neighbourhood teams. Generally, local communities’ priorities have been consistent. They are to prevent anti-social behaviour, to increase police visibility and to improve roads safety.
In late 2018, the force consulted the public as to whether it would support a rise in the council tax precept for policing. The PCC reported that 1,660 responses were received, and 71.3 percent supported an increase that amounted to £24 per year.
The force has now made changes to the workforce. It has added a total of 58 additional officers and 62 police staff to teams in local neighbourhoods and other teams that deal with:
- rural crime;
- the safeguarding of vulnerable people;
- responses to emergency incidents; and
- roads safety.
During our inspection fieldwork, there was less evidence of the force seeking to understand changes in how the public anticipates police services should be offered in the future. The force is opening more digital channels of communication through its website. It is also introducing certain changes that will help it to manage demand. But it doesn’t know how the public perceives these changes, or how they fit the context in which the public expects to access services. The force might consider how it can be confident that such changes aren’t leaving behind sections of the community. These sections might include people who are less confident in using online contact, and users of the force’s website whose first language isn’t English.
The force has clear priorities, as described in its Police and Crime Plan 2016–21. These are:
- keeping vulnerable people safe and supporting victims of crime;
- tackling the threat of cyber-enabled crime;
- tackling the impact of drugs and alcohol on communities;
- supporting people who have mental health conditions and who come into contact with the criminal justice system;
- working with young people; and
- developing a policing family that is more representative of communities.
The force’s decisions about how to organise the workforce have been consistent with these priorities. However, senior leaders need to quickly arrive at sound judgments as to whether the newly formed workforce is optimal to meet current and future demand for its services. The force might consider what other data it could use to inform how demand is likely to change, as the consequences of its increased recording of crime unfold. The force could enrich its forecasts by seeking data from external sources about the composition and activity of the local population.
The force has only a basic understanding of the skills of its current workforce. It needs to do more to project what skills will be needed in the future. A chief officer chairs the workforce futures board to scrutinise planning data (such as staff recruits, vacancies and departures), alongside budgets and priorities. This approach meets the force’s needs in the immediate term, but there is limited reference to future demand or to changes in the skills needed to meet it.
The force does have a long-term plan that describes the implications of many factors that can affect the size and composition of its workforce, except for changes in demand.
There is information on several databases to predict workforce size and composition over the next two years. In late 2019, the force is likely to carry out a skills audit if trials of the new system prove to be successful. Senior leaders must look to develop this work further and blend it with reliable forecasts of future demand, to identify potential skills gaps. They should then use that information to drive recruitment, and hire candidates who have skills that best match the force’s requirements.
The force is good at recruiting new officers and staff. It has reacted quickly to the increase in officer numbers. It rapidly processed and inducted enough new recruits to fulfil the pledge it made to the public when funding was increased for policing through the council tax precept.
The force makes good use of the different entry routes for new officers. In September 2018, it adopted the police-based entry scheme (the police constable degree apprenticeship). The force works closely with the University of Derby to maximise development opportunities for students who take the course. It also makes use of the College of Policing’s direct entry programme to recruit senior leaders. One officer currently holds a middle management rank and is following a well-planned career path. In August 2019, the force planned to use the Police Now scheme for the first time, with ten graduates joining. The force advertises all police officer promotion processes and vacancies for specialist posts to attract external candidates. This is a welcome change: it means that the force can consider the best range of candidates with a view to enriching the workforce.
Following its 2010 consultation about revaluing public sector pensions, in both 2016 and 2018, the Government announced reductions in the discount rate it uses to set contribution rates for the unfunded public service pension schemes. These include the police service pension scheme. A lower discount rate will result in higher contribution rates for employers. The official notification of a lower rate in September 2018 didn’t give PCCs time to include the effect of this in their financial planning. In December 2018, the Home Office published the provisional police funding settlement for 2019/20. The settlement provided £7.8 billion in 2019 in government grants. This is £161m more than the previous year. The settlement also provided £143m of pension funding to assist PCCs to meet additional costs associated with increased pension contributions. Moreover, the settlement enabled PCCs in England to increase their police precept level for a typical (band D) household by a monthly maximum of £2. Before the funding announcement, Derbyshire Constabulary had calculated that in 2019/20 pension contributions would increase by £2.4m. After the settlement, the force calculated that the pension support grant would provide £1.9m, and that the increase in the core grant would provide £1.4m. The precept increase for 2019/20 for a band D property is £24. This provides additional revenue of £3.2m.
There is clear alignment between the force’s financial plans, workforce planning, and the police and crime plan. Notably, in 2019/20, the force has invested £3.2m into priority areas of neighbourhood policing, rural crime teams, prevention, response and roads policing.
The force’s medium-term financial plans are built on prudent assumptions about known cost pressures. It tests assumptions across the East Midlands region, attending quarterly meetings of finance officers. At these meetings, comparative data in respect of precept, funding, pay and inflation assumptions are shared. The force assumes that the pension support grant of £1.9m won’t increase throughout the four years of the medium-term financial strategy, and that the core grant will remain the same as in 2019/20. The force has noted changes to this grant as a specific risk that senior leaders will monitor closely.
The force will use reserves to support revenue spending in the next three financial years. Chief officers recognise that the force can’t continue to support the revenue budget through the use of reserves in the long term. It is sensible for the force to use reserves that it has already built up. And it can afford to use them without breaching tolerances that the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy consider to be prudent. The force’s plans to use reserves in future financial years amount to £2.93m (2020/21) and £2.59m (2021/22), which will deplete usable reserves.
Over that same period, the force is forecasting a budget gap. Therefore, it needs to plan for financial savings. The size of that gap ranges between £3.9m and £6.3m, depending on how cost pressures actually arise compared with the assumptions that the force makes. Given the force’s history for prudence, it is feasible that the gap will settle at the lower end of this range.
The force doesn’t have detailed savings plans in place to cover the budget shortfall. The budget for the current financial year (2019/20) is balanced. However, the force must act quickly to devise robust plans for the future. We recognise that it has taken steps to better understand organisational performance, including managing costs, by recruiting specialist staff and making better use of data analysis. We look forward to seeing how that investment takes the force forward.
The force is developing plans for increased borrowing. Initially, this borrowing is set at £23m, to be used primarily for remedial and development work to the estate. The force is predicting that, in total, it may need £100m to bring the current estate up to an acceptable standard, and so that it is fit for purpose. The force will continue its work with Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service and other public bodies to make judgments about its estate strategy.
Leadership and workforce development
Derbyshire Constabulary uses succession planning for senior leaders of chief inspector rank and above, and it has annual career development reviews in place. It isn’t clear how planning for future leadership and workforce requirements features in these reviews. Generally, it is left to heads of departments to consider succession planning and potential skills gaps. But this can cause isolated and inconsistent approaches.
The force has replaced its professional development review process and introduced a more conversational approach, known as ‘check ins’. These are intended to be frequent, meaningful conversations between managers and their staff, with a focus on continuous development (rather than a single, retrospective, performance assessment). Surveys among the workforce have shown this new approach to be popular. But the force hasn’t captured all evidence as to the effect of the new approach on workforce performance. All officers and staff still complete an annual development needs document. This gives the force some information about future training needs and, to some degree, people’s career aspirations.
The force’s refreshed approach to recruitment at all levels means that it can more accurately benchmark the talent of its existing workforce. It can also attract the best external candidates, including those who are likely to become senior leaders.
The force is increasing talent management and career development opportunities for the whole workforce. For some years, programmes have existed. The force has now refreshed them to be more flexible and sensitive to people’s skills, rather than according to role or rank. We spoke to people who were taking part in short-term work placements that used their skills well. Often, they work alongside interns, apprentices and graduates. The force brings these in to add fresh perspective and innovation as it seeks to improve.
Ambition to improve
Senior leaders are ambitious about how they want to improve the force. During our inspection fieldwork, a wide range of necessary changes were starting to take effect. These should lead to improvements in how the force offers police services to the public. In the past, the force has proved responsive to meeting challenges. It has made bold changes when necessary. For example:
- it met savings requirements quickly during times of austerity, which allowed it to make necessary significant capital investments;
- it forged a close working relationship with Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service, taking advantage of opportunities to share estate and staff; and
- it reacted swiftly to the unintended consequences of a workforce reorganisation in 2018.
Recently, the force created a design board. This board manages change programmes. A chief officer chairs the board, and is supported by business change specialists. The board has commissioned a detailed timetable and associated plans to bring an ideal operating model into effect by 2025. The force intends to pursue better use of cloud-based IT systems; to make faster and more accurate diagnoses of demand patterns; and to maximise the advantages of working with other organisations.
The force’s plans appear to be realistic, given the scale of investment towards its business intelligence and analytics functions. It is introducing expertise to measure the efficiency of how work flows through the force, and to develop new software to help improve that. Other new staff have experience in optimising organisational design and workforce culture. Overall, this shows the force’s comprehensive approach to determining what changes are needed; how to achieve them successfully; and, most significantly of all, how to make them last.Summary for question 2