Skip to content
Promoting improvements
in policing and fire & rescue
services to make everyone safer

Devon and Cornwall PEEL 2018


How efficiently does the force operate and how sustainable are its services to the public?

Last updated 21/01/2020

Devon and Cornwall Police is good in terms of its efficiency and sustainability.

It has detailed plans for the future. These are based on analysis from a range of data. There is a culture of continuous improvement, which senior leaders actively support.

The force works with many organisations to help safeguard vulnerable people. These include the emergency services, local authorities and universities.

The force has a balanced budget for the 2019/20 financial year. Its financial plans are realistic and have been subject to external review. It has a good track record of making savings. This is supported by a change programme, shared with Dorset Police.

Questions for Efficiency


How well does the force use its resources to meet the demand it faces?


Areas for improvement

  • The force needs to improve its call-handling performance to ensure that service quality remains at acceptable levels.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.

Understanding demand for its services

Devon and Cornwall Police understands demand. A business intelligence tool called QlikView gathers data from IT systems. This helps the force understand demand for its services. The force also analyses other data regularly, completes internal reviews and holds observation exercises. For example, a recent observation exercise by the force performance and analysis team in the control room helped it better understand the reasons people call 101.

Assessing current demand

The force also works with other organisations to help it understand demand and the changes that may affect it. This has helped the force identify an increase in demand for mental health services in Plymouth, for example.

Its work with other organisations focuses on the causes of vulnerability rather than
the symptoms. This means it uses the right agencies, with relevant expertise, to safeguard vulnerable people.

The force’s partnerships with health, education, social care and other emergency services help all parties identify and respond to hidden demand. Hidden demand refers to incidents or crimes that are less likely to be reported because victims are so vulnerable. Examples include human trafficking and modern slavery. The force develops local problem profiles with other organisations. These help safeguard people who may be at risk. The fire and ambulance services also give valuable information to the police.

A chief officer chairs a new demand board. The board considers factors affecting demand and the resources needed to manage it. All local policing areas are represented. This helps the force understand both local and strategic demand. Plans are based on scrutiny of workforce capability and capacity. For example, the force uses a demand and resource allocation model to assign staff to where they are needed most.

The force communications team, which works jointly with Dorset Police, is using a new customer insight programme to improve services. This includes interviews and focus groups with people who have needed help from the force, including those who have less confidence in the police. The team produces videos of these conversations and plays them back to the frontline workforce. This is positive, and the force should continue to take this approach when designing services.

Understanding factors that influence demand

Devon and Cornwall Police expects the number of calls for service to rise. In response, it is finding new ways to resolve incidents and investigate crime.

The force has analysed trends in 999 calls that are likely to be made to its control room. This shows that the highest priority calls will increase by 6 percent. On average, this would mean that the force would have to manage 38 more emergencies a day than it does now.

The force has ambitious plans to manage growing demand. This will mean services are sustainable in the future. These include expanding the IRC programme. The force has set itself targets to handle 70 percent of its investigative workload in this way. This will dramatically reduce pressures on frontline staff.

Devon and Cornwall Police attracts staff and officers from other forces. It uses their knowledge of different working practices to improve its services. For example, it worked with the ambulance service to change how it responds to sudden deaths where there are no suspicious circumstances. Following a pilot programme, and with safeguards in place, police no longer attend some of these incidents. This has improved the service given to bereaved families. It has also made ambulance and police services more efficient.

Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police have introduced an innovation hub. The aim is to bring a more structured approach to collecting and developing new ideas from the workforce. Officers and staff can submit ideas to the hub. An innovation board, which a chief officer chairs, considers these ideas for development. It was too early to assess the effectiveness of the hub during our inspection, but we look forward to watching it develop.

We have found that at the busiest times, calls for services are deferred or downgraded in some forces. This has been the case especially when it hasn’t been possible to send officers. During this inspection, we considered whether demand for services was being suppressed in this way. But we found that this isn’t the case.

However, seasonal demand puts extra pressure on the force control room. This happens especially in the summer, with the influx of tourists. Where there were delays in police attending incidents, it wasn’t always obvious that the force had reviewed the risks these delays caused.

Managing demand

Devon and Cornwall Police regularly reviews how it allocates resource. This helps the force prioritise crime trends and community needs.

The force works with other public sector organisations to manage demand. We found a lot of evidence of staff and officers working with other organisations to achieve this. This is especially important during the busiest times, such as in the summer. Assessments, meetings and partnerships are improving knowledge, understanding and responses to demand.

The force’s work with other organisations is helping it run more efficiently. This includes partnerships with the University of Exeter, and ambulance and fire services. Interns are also developing evidence-based policing.

Tri-service work is deploying resources across fire, ambulance and police services better. Tri-service safety officers focus on engagement, early intervention and prevention work to safeguard vulnerable people. This is helping the emergency services work more efficiently and better manage demand.

There is a culture of continuous improvement within Devon and Cornwall Police. The force is proactive in finding new ways of working. For example, community interest company Exeter City Futures is working with the force to help find solutions to problems. It is looking into making road traffic collision investigations more efficient. The OPCCs of Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police both fund this work. It is hoped the initiative will find ways for roads to be re-opened quicker. This would be better for the public and less costly for businesses. Initiatives such as these mean the force is more likely to offer an efficient service that meets the needs of all communities.

Working with others to meet demand

Devon and Cornwall Police works well with organisations to manage demand. Forces often identify people with mental health issues as being vulnerable. A lot of police officers’ time is spent on making sure they have the care and support they need. The police and crime commissioner has spent £0.25m on setting up a neighbourhood service. This improves the response individuals receive from the force.

Officers in some areas now work alongside mental health practitioners when people first make contact with the force. This approach gives direct access to NHS records, which helps resolve incidents. This reduces the number of times mental health legislation is used in detentions. It also means that vulnerable people have better access to care pathways. This minimises involving frontline officers unnecessarily.

The force works with emergency services, universities, voluntary groups and other organisations. This results in many initiatives that:

  • safeguard people with mental health issues;
  • manage demand; and
  • offer services for vulnerable people.

The breadth and depth of these relationships are impressive when considering the complex local authority arrangements in the force area.

Since April 2019, a senior clinician from the South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust has been based in the force control room. The aim is to improve information sharing and demand management. This means more officers can call the clinician. This has resulted in better assessments at the scene of incidents that need medical attention. This has also reduced the number of calls between police and ambulance control rooms.

These partnerships aim to help safeguard vulnerable people and improve demand management. We found many examples at strategic through to local level, all focused on these main aims. This includes improving how the force responds to people with mental health issues and those affected by adverse childhood experiences. The force and other organisations state that these are areas of high demand.

The force has invested heavily in these partnerships. Senior leaders are dedicated to working collaboratively to reduce harm and manage demand. This has led to innovative ways of joint working. This includes giving hospital security staff more powers to manage situations that previously needed police attendance. Another example is the work with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. It makes community first responders available to work with local neighbourhood and special constabulary teams on prevention activity.

The force works with other organisations to better understand how they are affected by increased demand. A local resilience forum (LRF) is a requirement of each police force. They are made up of emergency responders and representatives from other organisations. The force recently called a meeting of the LRF to understand the effect of summer demand on all main services across the peninsula. This innovative use of the LRF means the force is likely to understand and manage demand more effectively. We look forward to watching this progress.

Innovation and new opportunities

The driving force for improvement in Devon and Cornwall Police is the PRISM change programme.

PRISM will also play an important part in helping the force keep within its budgets. It is working with Dorset Police to help achieve this. Plans include introducing:

  • digital tablets;
  • body-worn camera technology; and
  • facilities to store and retrieve digital evidence.

The programme is also responsible for introducing new technology to the control room. It integrates telephone services, radios and CCTV images.

The force has worked with Dorset Police for many years, in areas such as armed and traffic policing. These arrangements make both forces more efficient. The two forces now share 25 services. These range from media and communication services and shotgun and firearms licensing to analysing and circulating criminal intelligence.

There are now plans to move to joint operating systems. Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police will have the same command and control system in 2020/21. This will improve resilience and information sharing for incident demand.

Bringing these systems together will reduce the number of applications used by both forces and remove duplication. It will also help maximise the use of support functions, managing digital evidence and the information on mobile devices that officers and staff use.

Chief officers are keen for the workforce to think innovatively and share their ideas. We found many examples of local initiatives set up by passionate individuals and local teams. This included a comprehensive locally-led partnership to safeguard people affected by adverse childhood experiences. Working with Dorset Police has also helped both workforces learn from each other. For example, in developing IRCs, Devon and Cornwall Police took the lessons learned from Dorset Police’s investigation resolution teams.

The innovation board and hub will make it easier to gather and share ideas across the force.

A programme with the University of Exeter shares techniques and expertise to build on the workforce’s technical skills. Student placements are also helping bring new ideas to the force. During our inspection, a policing laboratory was due to launch at the university. It will see academics and experts from the public and private sector address problems that need technical innovation. The project will help the force use technology better. We look forward to seeing how this develops.

Investment and benefits

The force scrutinises its investments. It checks the progress of projects to make sure that expected benefits are achieved.

All investment projects are subject to a detailed business case review before approval. Internal and external boards test their rationale. And financial and IT experts scrutinise all decisions.

There are clear links between continuous improvement, the investment needed, and the benefits sought. Chief officers oversee this process.

Allocating resources

Devon and Cornwall Police’s priorities are based on its annual planning cycle. Information is gathered by analysing daily, weekly and annual demand. Meetings at strategic and local level direct activity. Progress against the priorities is also tracked at these meetings.

The force management statement (FMS) is a self-assessment that every police force needs to submit to us each year. It helps forces identify current and predict future demand, and plan accordingly. The FMS informs the force business planning cycle and how resources will be allocated to meet demand.

Chief officers chair regular workforce planning and demand management meetings. These meetings scrutinise resource allocation to make sure they reflect priorities.

Extraordinary meetings (called gold groups) manage emerging or unprecedented demand. These are chaired by a chief officer and give a whole-force focus on a problem. For example, the force recently called a gold group to address the significant increase in calls for service into the force control room. This is helping the force manage demand better.

Prioritising different types of demand

The force understands what resources it needs to meet demand. Demand modelling allocates resources based on a range of data and information. The force uses this effectively. Local and force-level resource allocation meetings analyse weekly, daily and monthly demand. The force uses an ICT system to forecast demand and allocate resources in the control room.

Workforce planning meetings help the force understand what resources it needs in the medium term. A central resource team makes sure that agreed staffing levels are maintained across the force.

Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police have developed a demand and resource allocation model. This helps managers distribute resources to the areas showing the greatest need. We examined how this worked in practice with neighbourhood constables. The force assesses their workload in detail, going beyond the headline figures of how many crimes they investigate or incidents they attend. It also focuses on the effect on their time and availability. The examination includes the type of crimes they deal with, and the need for victim support and court attendance. This is an intelligent way of monitoring and adjusting the distribution of police resources in communities.

Resourcing and learning development functions are shared across Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police. Annual planning cycles give flexibility. They help prioritise training or recruitment in response to changes in demand. Plans are scrutinised and progress tracked. The effect of changes in demand, resourcing or training needs are discussed in a joint workforce planning and supply meeting with Dorset Police.

Both Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police use a workforce planning model to align resources to priorities. This considers:

  • the strategic priorities of the two forces;
  • medium-term financial plans; and
  • factors at local, regional and national level that may affect demand.

During our inspection, we reviewed how resources were allocated in response to calls to the control room. In most cases, the response was appropriate to the circumstances of the reported incident. And escalation processes were available if circumstances changed. In general, risk assessments were recorded well. But where there were delays in attending, it wasn’t always clear that any associated risk had been reviewed.

In our 2017 inspection, we identified that the force needed to improve its call handling systems. This will make sure that service quality stays at acceptable levels. This remains an area for improvement.

In general, initial 101 calls are answered within the target response time of 30 seconds. Staff dealt with higher-priority callers efficiently. But lower-priority callers were referred to other call handlers. This was to either have an allegation of crime recorded or for another form of incident resolution. Call waiting times for these secondary lines can be too long.

The force is aware of this problem. During our inspection, a chief officer was overseeing improvements through the gold group. Introducing voice recognition telephony for non-emergency calls is expected to help by directing non-emergency calls for service more efficiently. This will free up staff to take emergency calls.

Assigning resources to demand and understanding their costs

Devon and Cornwall Police understands the costs of its services. It scrutinises its investments and changes to services. This makes sure it identifies benefits. Every department carries out a service challenge review. This makes sure it is running efficiently.

In April 2019, the force introduced its first IRCs. The aim was for them to help manage the high volumes of crime. IRCs now manage and investigate certain crimes remotely instead of dispatching officers. A phased approach has identified opportunities to widen the remit of the team and maximise efficiency.

The force scrutinises changes to resources, finances and services. This makes sure that any negative results are addressed. Introducing the demand management board across Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police will help the forces better understand and plan services.

Business area meetings manage the response to new or increased demand. For example, the ISB is reviewing capacity and capability to investigate domestic abuse and sexual offences. This is a result of growing demand on these teams. This review was underway during our inspection.

The force understands resource deployment. Like other forces, it has a shortage of investigators. A review has outlined where and in what capacity all accredited investigators are, force-wide. This has given clarity on current deployment and the potential effect any movement would have on services. The force applies a similar level of scrutiny to other areas of the business.

Productivity and making good use of resources

The force has an Alliance People Strategy with Dorset Police. This co-ordinates activity and means the forces have the skills and capabilities to meet demand.

Both forces use audits, surveys, feedback and the performance development review (PDR) to understand its skills and abilities. This means each force can address gaps. Extra skills that people have brought into the force on joining are less understood. These include languages or external qualifications. The force is aware of this and improvements were being considered when we inspected.

The force is good at assessing the benefits of changes and investments. The PRISM change programme, in collaboration with Dorset Police, is comprehensive, ambitious and subject to external scrutiny and challenge. The force assesses the benefits of working with Dorset Police and other organisations.

The force continues to buy new technology to improve capability. For example, it is investing in a new record management system (RMS). This will help improve efficient working locally and regionally.

Workforce capabilities

Joint meetings with Dorset Police co-ordinate workforce development according to the priorities of each force. All relevant business leads attend. They review:

  • recruitment;
  • current and future training needs;
  • succession planning; and
  • learning and development activity.

A workforce skills audit was completed in 2018. The findings focus on the areas that need improving the most. For example, the force is addressing gaps in leadership and digital skills through training programmes planned this year.

New digital champions offer support and guidance to colleagues who are less confident in using new technology. Champions also supported the roll-out of Skype video conferencing across the force. And there are plans to use these champions to support the workforce in using other new IT systems.

There is a clear link between resource and demand management. Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police carry out an annual training plan. It takes into account many factors. These include:

  • force priorities;
  • strategic assessments;
  • operational and organisational demand;
  • workforce planning requirements;
  • gaps identified in skills audits; and
  • the needs of organisational change programmes.

A chief officer oversees this process. It means that the force is more likely to have the right people with the right skills to manage demand well.

Devon and Cornwall Police works hard to recruit experienced officers from other forces. Evidence of this is how regularly it takes on transferees. The force takes part in Police Now officer recruitment and the College of Policing’s national programmes to recruit into senior positions. It also develops its workforce through partnerships with universities. For example, its work with local animation students produces materials for raising awareness of, and reporting, hate crime.

More efficient ways of working

Devon and Cornwall Police is improving how it uses technology. It is also looking into opportunities for working with others to improve its services.Improvements are made through PRISM. This change programme also helps the force, together with Dorset Police, run services within their budgets.
Current improvement plans include introducing:

  • digital tablets;
  • body-worn camera technology;
  • a new RMS; and
  • facilities to store and retrieve digital evidence.

These investments, and the benefits they bring, are scrutinised by both forces. Chief officers, subject matter experts and independent representatives track all change projects. This makes sure that the forces identify any negative effects and minimise these, where appropriate.

The change programme, and other work with Dorset Police, help make savings and improve services. An example is telephone voice recognition in the force control room.

Improvements include better criminal justice outcomes for victims by using BWV evidence. The force tracks savings expected from the change programme.

Working with others

Devon and Cornwall Police is committed to working with other organisations. This is obvious from a strategic level to local policing areas.

The force works with Dorset Police to share many operational and support functions. It is also part of the South West Regional Collaboration Programme. This brings together, among others, the South West Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit, the regional organised crime unit and South West Regional Forensics.

The force is also involved in the South West Emergency Services Collaboration (SWESC). SWESC brings together:

  • six fire and rescue services;
  • six police forces;
  • the Royal National Lifeboat Institution;
  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency; and
  • Public Health England.

SWESC sets out a statutory duty on all emergency services to review collaboration opportunities. It has also established a series of regional collaboration agreements (RCAs).

The RCAs aim to collectively offer the best possible public service to people in need. It also leads to smarter working between services to avoid duplication and improve efficiency.

RCAs currently set out the responsibilities of participating organisations for:

  • searches for high-risk missing persons;
  • gaining access to premises when there is concern for an occupant’s wellbeing;
  • body recovery; and
  • health assessments of individuals who abuse alcohol.

We saw evidence of the benefits of these collaborations. These included managing demand for policing services.

Historically, the police have been responsible for people who have collapsed in their homes. In the South West region, this is now the responsibility of fire and rescue services. This is because they are better equipped to gain access and have more medical training. This has resulted in joint training on using door entry equipment and better information sharing between emergency service control rooms.

It also means that more and better equipped resources are available to search for missing persons. Urban search and rescue teams, specialist search dogs, rescue boats and mountaineers are now available to help forces with searches.

The force seconds a senior officer to the SWESC. This role has a positive influence on driving reforms that benefit all forces in the South West region.

Using technology

Any potential new ICT system must show that it can improve efficiency and service before the change programme will consider it. The force shares an ICT strategy with Dorset Police. This outlines the priority areas for investment. They include innovation, collaboration, increased productivity and community engagement. Any proposed change to systems is measured against the strategy. A total of £54m is available to improve technology between 2017 and 2021.

We found many examples of investment improving efficiency and effectiveness.
These include:

  • using Skype to reduce travel costs and time;
  • webchat in the force control room;
  • facilities for the public to upload dashboard camera footage direct to the force;
  • using laptops and improved mobile data devices on the frontline; and
  • working with business forums and ICT providers. This means the force is better able to investigate cyber-related crime.

The force has worked with Dorset Police for many years to improve efficiency. They now share 25 services. These include:

  • armed policing;
  • traffic policing;
  • media and communication services;
  • shotgun and firearms licensing; and
  • analysing and circulating criminal intelligence.

The force has plans for a new RMS. It will provide a common platform to manage crime investigations, case file preparation, custody detention and criminal intelligence across the two forces. It will also reduce the number of applications used by both forces and remove duplication. And it will make best use of support functions, and managing digital evidence and information on mobile devices that frontline officers and staff use.

Summary for question 1

How well does the force plan for the future?


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

Devon and Cornwall Police understands the factors that affect demand. This includes calls to the force control room. It plans to give the public more ways to contact the force as part of improving its services.

In line with national trends, 999 calls to the force are rising quickly. In the summer of 2018, the force control room received a record number of 999 calls. This was a 12 percent increase compared with previous years. It has since introduced other ways for people to contact the force. These include email, web chat and text messages.

While this is positive, analysis shows that many requests for service may be duplicated. This is because automated answering may tell the caller to contact the force through a different channel. This may result in someone ending the call. At the moment, both the discontinued and new contacts will be recorded as separate calls for service.

Interactive voice recognition was installed into the force control room soon after our inspection. This allows callers to receive automated advice and be directed to an appropriately skilled call handler.

The force uses recognised techniques to analyse and identify future demand. These include statistical and trend projections, and seasonal trends. The force continues to improve how it predicts future demand. This is in line with the FMS.

Planning and workshops with other organisations enables information and data sharing. The force works with fire, ambulance and health services. This helps all parties plan for future demand.

The force uses a range of data to understand current and future demand. For example, information from health and mental health services helps identify frequent service users. This means the police and other organisations can intervene to safeguard vulnerable people.

A chief officer leads a demand management programme. They are supported by senior officer leads who work with local partners to manage and predict demand. A strategic demand board oversees this. This helps the force better understand current and future demand in areas showing the greatest need.

The force is using business intelligence technology to better understand future demand. A business intelligence programme, called QlikView, helps manage and forecast demand. During our inspection, Qlik Sense was used in a pilot to prioritise locating suspects who posed the highest risk.

Officers and staff understand vulnerability. This includes vulnerability that may be less obvious, often referred to as hidden. During our inspection, there were many examples of staff and officers identifying, responding to and safeguarding vulnerable people at risk of exploitation or harm.

Hidden harm can often be difficult to quantify. Examples include domestic abuse, abuse of older people or child sexual exploitation. Greater awareness has led to an increase in relevant data and information. This helps the force and other organisations better understand risk that is less obvious and predict future service needs. This is also resulting in better partnership working, joint strategic assessments and information sharing.

Understanding public expectations

The force is good at improving its services in line with public expectation. The police and crime commissioner runs public consultation exercises. The aim is to assess levels of trust and confidence in the police.

These exercises have helped shape the force’s new neighbourhood policing model and resource distribution. The force also routinely surveys victims to find out how satisfied they were with the service they received. The results are used to improve the support offered. Many of these findings are included in the force’s domestic abuse action plan. The plan sets out areas where the force intends to improve.

The force is also using other ways to get public feedback. Members of the public took part in workshops. This helped the force develop the messages used in the voice recognition telephone service in the control room. Changes were made as a result of feedback.

The force also uses social media well. It sought feedback via Facebook about force policy to name people who have been charged with driving while over the legal alcohol limit. This led to changes in the policy. Using public feedback means that the force is more likely to offer a service that meets the needs of communities.


Devon and Cornwall Police is clear about its priorities. The police and crime plan details the police and crime commissioner’s priorities. These focus on:

  • helping communities engage with the police;
  • preventing crime;
  • protecting vulnerable people; and
  • using police resources efficiently.

The force has a practical way of identifying the crime that presents the greatest threat to communities. This involves research that brings together crime data and information held by local councils.

This research takes place every year. It is referred to as the peninsula strategic assessment. Its priorities include drug trafficking, problem drinking, domestic abuse and modern slavery. The assessment helps the force focus its work on protecting communities and understand what is most important to them.

The local councils hold forums in the region. These support the force’s enforcement work. The forums bring together police commanders, victims’ organisations, the NHS, the probation service and charitable organisations. The aim is to assess local needs and find solutions to local crime and anti-social behaviour problems.

Known as community safety partnerships, the forums are good at solving community problems. These range from ambitious, strategic programmes to support young people at risk of drifting into a criminal lifestyle to simple measures to stop drinking in parks and other public places.

In Plymouth, the partnership is working with university academics to identify and support people who have adverse childhood experiences. At a more local level, Public Spaces Protection Orders are used to move habitual drinkers away from parks and other recreational areas. This means more people can use these areas.

Future workforce

In all forces, we examine whether there are enough detectives to manage investigations well. Devon and Cornwall Police has vacancies in its investigation teams. But there are plans to address this. 

Forecasts suggest an immediate shortage of between 40 to 60 investigators. Pressures are obvious in investigation teams that have vacancies. The police and crime commissioner has agreed to funding for 30 more investigator positions. This will be funded from precept rises. But filling vacancies can be difficult.

A vacancy and deployability panel meets every month. The aim is to make sure that no areas or departments are affected too much by vacancies. There are also longer-term recruitment measures.

The force has successfully marketed the family and lifestyle benefits of living in Devon and Cornwall. Twenty trained and experienced detectives from other forces joined the force in 2018. Similar recruitment campaigns were running when we inspected. The force also takes part in the College of Policing’s entry schemes. These include the fast-track and direct entry programmes, and the Police Now graduate entry scheme.

Finance plans

The force is good at making savings. And its financial plans generally include cautious assumptions about future revenue.

This includes an estimated calculation that the government grant will increase by 1.8 percent, and a forecast that increases in council tax will revert to a 2.99 percent capped level. This follows a recent relaxation of the cap, giving police and crime commissioners more flexibility to increase local taxpayer revenue for forces.

However, the force’s mid-term financial strategy (MTFS) includes a recurring pension grant of £3.2m, following an increase in employer contributions. This is after a government re-evaluation of public sector pensions. But this grant has only been guaranteed for 2019/20. And not all forces forecast that it will be repeated.

As part of the MTFS for 2019/20 to 2023/24, the force plans to make annual savings of £2.07m in 2019/20. This should grow to £4.7m in 2022/23. The savings are based on:

  • efficiencies from sharing more services with Dorset Police;
  • fewer police community support officers (PCSOs), in line with the new neighbourhood policing model; and
  • service reviews, which are self-assessments that help make savings.

More funds raised through precept increases are being invested in neighbourhood policing and investigations.

Financial plans also show a good balance between investment in priority areas and continued efficiencies to sustain services within allocated budgets.

Over the lifespan of the MTFS, the force’s revenue budget is predicted to increase by 16 percent. This is mainly through council tax precept increases from £112m to £149m, including estimated increases in council tax base. 

The force is using this opportunity to invest in priority areas. The number of officers is set to increase from 2,990 in 2018/19 to 3,100 in 2020/21. This will:

  • support growth in the force’s 27 local policing areas;
  • improve managing risks associated with sex offenders; and
  • increase the number of detectives.

Leadership and workforce development

Devon and Cornwall Police is committed to developing its staff.

In our 2017 inspection, we said that the force needed to better understand its leadership capacity and capability. It assessed all leadership skills in 2018. Staff helped design the audit process. They also helped shape how the force defined and developed its leadership needs.

As a result, the force now better understands the leadership qualities it expects of its people. This has helped it introduce targeted leadership programmes. These link to the College of Policing fast-track programmes and the Police Now graduate entry scheme. Leadership programmes include succession planning. This makes sure that talented staff take up leading positions.

The chief constable has pledged to support frontline staff through professional development. This commitment is set out in the force’s resource and talent planning strategy 2017/18. It is based on the findings of a 2018 leadership audit.

The audit included views from frontline staff gathered during focus groups. The force encourages staff to take responsibility for their own development. A guide to the resources and opportunities available are on the intranet. These include masterclass events, and they replicate commercially available YouTube leadership talks and themed development forums. The aim is for staff to develop their skills in subjects relevant to them; for example, rape investigations and programmes designed by the force’s women’s network. During our inspection, there was evidence that officers and staff were using these resources.

The force is also making investigator positions a more attractive career option for serving officers. Detective training is now given at two centres in the force area, which cuts travelling times. And applicants have access to mentors to support them in their new role.

The force plans to give officers time off during their working day to study for the national investigators’ exam. And investigators will have more opportunities to achieve higher levels of accreditation.

There are plans to identify people who are interested in a detective career when they join the service. This will enable the force to develop bespoke career pathways and should help manage vacancies in the future. 

Ambition to improve

There is a culture of continuous improvement within Devon and Cornwall Police. Chief officers lead this, supported by the change programme with Dorset Police. The programme is establishing a culture of mobile working. This involves providing cloud-based technology, digital evidence storage, laptops and mobile devices. All these measures are improving workforce efficiency.

IRCs are opening in phases. Eventually, they will take on more responsibilities.
This will include managing:

  • other resource-intensive tasks such as missing people investigations;
  • domestic abuse victims who choose to be seen by appointment; and
  • other lower harm crime enquiries.

The force understands the benefits of joint working. And it is open to new ideas to improve the way it runs. It works with many organisations to help it make progress. These include businesses, universities, voluntary groups and members of the public.

There is a direct link between change programmes and force priorities. Appropriate leadership, governance and scrutiny are in place for all change projects. This means that the force is more likely to offer an efficient and effective service that meets the need of local communities.

Managing performance and development of officers and staff

After our 2017 inspection, we advised that the force carry out a leadership and skills audit. This would help it better understand its capacity and capability. We are pleased that it has since achieved the required improvement in this area.

In 2018, it developed and carried out an audit for all sergeant and police staff supervisor equivalents and above. The audit was based on a self-assessment questionnaire, which mapped individual skills against organisational needs and priorities. The results are shaping current and future training plans.

In our 2017 inspection, we found that the force needed to improve how it managed its PDR process. Better guidance and information about how to make your PDR count has resulted in higher PDR completion rates. Our inspection this year found considerable improvement. A 94 percent completion rate was recorded for the 2018 PDR year, compared with 60 percent in the previous year.

The force is introducing a new performance management system, Employee Performance Development Review (EPDR), in September 2019. This was developed using feedback from focus groups with officers and staff. We are satisfied that the force has improved in this area.

Summary for question 2