Dyfed-Powys PEEL 2018
How efficiently does the force operate and how sustainable are its services to the public?
Dyfed-Powys Police requires improvement in how it meets demand and uses resources.
The force needs to have a better understanding of demand and what affects it, so that it can use its resources efficiently.
The force has achieved good savings in the past and can show the improvements from some of its investments. But it needs to review the efficiency of all its investments.
Dyfed-Powys Police needs to improve how it plans for the future.
The force is improving its understanding of what the public expects, which will help it plan for future demand.
It needs to improve its plans for future workforce needs. Replacing officers who have left with another of the same rank, without considering changing skills requirements, means its workforce may lack important skills for the future.
Dyfed-Powys Police needs to improve its financial planning. It will have to make savings when its financial reserves are at their lowest. The force needs to test the risks of its plans.
How well does the force use its resources to meet the demand it faces?
Areas for improvement
- The force should undertake further work to better understand the current demand for its services, including hidden demand, so it can make best use of its resources to meet the needs of the public.
- The force should review its investments, such as those into its buildings and infrastructure, to assess their impact.
- The force should improve its understanding of the capability and capacity of its workforce, in particular in relation to specialist areas.
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
Dyfed-Powys Police requires improvement in its understanding of demand. It does not have a clear or consistent understanding of the demand for the services it provides. Recently, the force considered demand activity throughout approximately two-thirds of the organisation. This covered six areas:
- crime investigations department (CID);
- domestic abuse officer;
- dogs section; and
- roads policing.
The force used specialist software and focus groups with frontline staff. This work considered various tasks and activities within each of these six areas. For example, response times to priority one calls, and certain crime types in CID. But it did not fully cover all elements of the demand faced by these six areas. However, it did consider various scenarios, and identified areas of waste and failure in demand. The force has yet to formally study other areas of demand such as digital and cyber-demand, scientific and technical support. But in the digital and cyber-crime unit, we found effective work to understand and respond to patterns of demand.
A daily briefing tool on the force intranet uses data from force systems to provide briefings on crimes and incidents. It states how many officers are working each day to help with demand management.
The force is working to identify hidden demand such as child sexual exploitation and modern-day slavery. We described this work in the ‘Protecting vulnerable people’ section of this report. But the effect of this demand is not fully understood throughout the force.
There are areas where demand is not being effectively managed. These include victim services and (at the time of our inspection fieldwork) the vetting unit. Also, demand involving domestic abuse may not be sufficiently understood. As mentioned in the ‘Protecting vulnerable people’ section of this report, the force is not consistently using DASH risk assessments for all reported domestic abuse incidents.
The force needs to develop a full understanding of current demand throughout the whole force rather than just in particular areas.
Understanding factors that influence demand
Dyfed-Powys Police requires improvement in understanding the factors that affect demand for its services. The continuous improvement team has trained practitioners who support departments and business areas in making improvements and changes. They work with teams and consider the processes in place. They identify inefficiencies and duplication of work, and map wasted effort. One example is a traffic review which led to savings in overtime. Another is a review of safeguarding referral work. This led to a reduction in the size of a document used with partner agencies to make it easier to understand.
The continuous improvement team has also held events with officers and staff. It encourages the workforce to map processes and to highlight opportunities for streamlining work.
The force has reduced demand by consulting with partner agencies to revise welfare protocols; now the force receives fewer requests for welfare checks.
This work has increased efficiencies and made savings in some areas. But it has been done on a case-by-case basis. It hasn’t yet resulted in a wider understanding of how efficient working practices can reduce overall demand.
During our inspection fieldwork we did not find evidence of the force intentionally supressing demand.
The force needs to understand the factors that influence demand throughout the whole organisation. Then it can better understand where problems are and deal with them accordingly.
Working with others to meet demand
Dyfed-Powys Police works well with other organisations to try and meet the demand for services. It recognises that it cannot manage demand alone. It has held some demand summits with partner organisations, including local authorities, fire and rescue services and third-sector organisations. This was an area for improvement in 2017. At these summits the force and its partners discuss managing demand and improving the exchange of information. The work is still in an early stage of development.
The force has a variety of collaborative arrangements with police and non-police partners. We saw good evidence of the force’s commitment to joint working.
The force conducted its strategic intelligence assessment with partner agencies. This assessment fed into the control strategy which is described in the ‘Preventing crime and anti-social behaviour’ section of this report.
Dyfed-Powys Police has arrangements for managing some aspects of demand such as mental health triage and ambulance. Partner agencies are also engaged in demand management at a tactical level. Once example is the multi-agency referral form (MARF) process. This allows any officer or member of staff to submit concerns to a central referral unit, which will inform the relevant agency. But the arrangements for managing demand efficiently throughout a wider range of partner organisations is generally limited. And the benefits from these collaborations in managing demand are not routinely quantified.
Innovation and new opportunities
The force can show that it looks externally for some innovation and best practice. There are examples where the force has sought out opportunities for service improvement. One example is the College of Policing review of the force’s response to domestic abuse. And to improve business support functions it looked to:
- private sector expertise;
- research from the University of Wales; and
- other police forces in Wales.
But the force does not always look externally for innovation and best practice.
Investment and benefits
Dyfed-Powys Police understands some of the benefits arising from investments, but it does not conduct evaluations in a consistent way. We saw that it had thoroughly examined the benefits of some changes after putting them in place. But it does not do this every time, even for large investments. For example, the force has recently invested in mobile data devices for frontline uniformed officers. But we found little evidence of attempts to work out what technology officers might need in future to improve productivity and service. A substantial amount of the force’s capital programme will be invested in future estate development.
Prioritising different types of demand
The force is building its understanding of demand. It is exploring the effect of reprioritising resources, based on its understanding of current demand.
As mentioned earlier, the force has only considered approximately two-thirds of its current activity. It has taken steps to prioritise its demand using the control strategy. This now has four priorities, down from nine in 2017. The force assesses each priority against the principles of threat, harm and risk as identified earlier in this report. A chief inspector oversees each priority, and the force performance and tasking meeting, led by the assistant chief constable, oversees the priorities as a whole. This aims to ensure that demands are appropriately recognised by holding senior leaders to account. Bids for funding can be made at this meeting if demand warrants it.
The local daily management meeting process helps the force prioritise and meet demand. Each basic command unit (BCU) hosts a daily management meeting with a chief inspector or superintendent as chair. Demands for the BCU are prioritised and resources are allocated accordingly.
On a day-to-day basis, the force prioritises demand against a THRIVES assessment for vulnerability. The force uses THRIVES in the communication centre at the initial response to a caller and this assessment continues to inform other decision-making processes.
At the start of every shift, operational staff are provided with a bespoke electronic briefing. It informs them of all up-to-date intelligence. Examples of briefing content include offender management, registered sex offenders, controlled drugs, crime reports, anti-social behaviour information and community impact considerations.
Assigning resources to demand and understanding their costs
Dyfed-Powys Police acts to vary levels of service in some areas, but this is limited. A recent example is investment in the incident crime and allocation team. The force placed this team in the force communication centre to determine the most appropriate way to deal with the incident/crime. This includes, where appropriate, investigations over the phone. As a result, it has noted an increase in public satisfaction.
The force is at an early stage in understanding the skills and capabilities it needs now and in the future. At the time of the inspection fieldwork, the force did not have an overall picture of its current skills and abilities. This was an area for improvement in 2017. The force has almost completed an audit of leadership and skills, which should give it this information. This is positive because this was also an area for improvement in 2017. This will be recorded on the force’s personnel management system, which we thought impressive during the demonstrations we saw. The force cannot accurately assess its skills gap in specialist areas.
More efficient ways of working
The force has a good record for achieving savings. It has re-invested in some areas. Most of its service reductions have been within the force and have had a minimal effect on services to the public. The force has achieved its savings plans and has invested in areas to improve outcomes. The force does not systematically evaluate the full benefits of change programmes. Examples are mobile data, body-worn video cameras and CCTV. The force has a few examples of where it has adapted the resources to meet changes in demand (vetting backlogs and traffic processing). There is some evidence of moving investment within functions but less of moving resources to areas of higher priority.
Working with others to provide a better service
Dyfed-Powys Police works well with a wide range of partner organisations. One example that stands out in this respect is the work of the cyber-crime unit. More than 25 forces have visited it and it has given more than 100 presentations to partners. It helps organisations to address gaps in their access to technology. But the force doesn’t always evaluate the internal benefits of these collaborations.
The force uses Welsh Government collaborative procurement arrangements to achieve better value for money. We found good examples of HR integration between the four Welsh forces.
Dyfed-Powys Police is making significant investments in many IT projects and systems. The force’s ICT strategy for 2018–24 provides overarching strategic direction for its IT projects. However, this is not always consistent.
The force has already invested in mobile technology for its officers and staff. In 2017, once this new technology was in use, the force reviewed it. The force found no increase in officer time away from the station and the review did not include an analysis of costs or benefits.
The force has also invested in technology to fight crime and increase productivity. But it cannot always quantify the benefits. Examples of such technology include body-worn video cameras and CCTV.
We found that the force’s IT systems don’t help staff to access, and make effective use of, risk information quickly. But staff can give feedback on their experience of using the force’s technology and that user feedback is acted on.
The force has made good use of its investment in telematics. This has allowed it to work out how much it could save on fleet costs and improved driver behaviour. The force is reviewing its records management system as part of the IT strategy.Summary for question 1
How well does the force plan for the future?
Areas for improvement
- The force should do more work to make sure its assumptions in relation to future demand are based on sound evidence and analysis, so it can allocate resources effectively.
- The force should analyse the benefits of its programmes of work to make sure that it can clearly map their impact. This will allow it to recognise success and identify capacity that will improve its ability to invest in other areas of business.
- The force should develop individual career pathways linked to its succession planning.
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
Dyfed-Powys Police requires improvement in identifying and assessing likely future demand. In general, the force does not understand future demand well. The force does anticipate changes in some demand. It has identified areas of new and emerging future demands for its services such as mental health, public protection, cyber-crime and digital. But the data and assumptions that bring this together for the whole force are not evident. The risk is that the force may divert resources into potential areas of future demand based on localised data rather than assessing the position force-wide.
The force recognises that it is less well-advanced in its understanding of hidden demand. But it expects this to be manageable because it experiences low demand from crimes such as modern-day slavery and honour-based violence. The force has noted that some aspects of hidden demand are driven by capacity restrictions in other agencies.
The annual MoRiLE (management of risks in law enforcement) process ensures that the force identifies, assesses and prioritises new and emerging issues. MoRiLE is a process for prioritising risk. The inclusion of new psycho-active substances on the control strategy is good evidence of this.
Dyfed-Powys Police has a system called QLIKVIEW which helps it monitor demands and make forecasts about likely future demands. The data available is updated each day and includes: crime, incident, domestic and stop search. The system outlines trends from reported crimes but there is limited evidence to show that it is informing force plans.
The force needs to be rigorous in harnessing the potential of new technology. It has recognised that some innovations, such as GPS tags, victim safety devices and alcohol testing tags, can reduce offending. They may also be more cost-effective than typical policing tactics such as surveillance and curfew checks.
Understanding public expectations
Dyfed-Powys Police is trying to better understand public expectations and requirements. But it is too early to gauge the extent to which it has identified and met these. The force is currently undertaking a community consultation exercise, Operation Cynefin. This assesses how it can most effectively understand and communicate with its communities. For example, in 2017 the force identified that nearly one-third of its calls were requests for information or advice. It is developing its website to make information easily available to the public. This should reduce the number of calls.
The force’s medium-term financial plan includes the results of annual budget consultations. This includes questions about growth, where most respondents wanted more neighbourhood officers and staff. It also included areas of reduction, where people wanted road safety and youth diversion projects. There is no evidence, beyond this consultation exercise, that public expectations are influencing the force’s future plans.
The force is acting early in consulting with holders of firearms licences about an expected peak in re-licensing in 2020. Survey work through the Countryside Landowners’ Association and British Association of Shooting and Conservation is in progress. Local universities will help analyse the results.
Dyfed-Powys Police needs to improve how it prioritises its use of resources. The force is relatively clear about its organisational priorities. But it is less clear about how these link to the PCC’s priorities, through the police and crime delivery plan, and public expectations. The force recognises the need to consult with the PCC and interested parties about service changes. But the evidence of this happening in practice is limited. Community engagement is one of the four priorities of the police and crime delivery plan to 2021. The force is still working out how it will engage with its communities.
The force needs to improve how it plans its future workforce needs. The force’s workforce projections over the next four years are based on the anticipated numbers of officers leaving the force. It adjusts numbers for increases in capacity for domestic abuse, public protection, cyber-crime, managing dangerous offenders and armed policing. The force has a workforce and talent management strategy with detailed annual training plans for the period to 2021. It intends to build into its medium-term plans robust career pathways and training plans. These plans will encourage uniformed officers to apply for specialist posts and will consider direct entry.
We welcome these ambitions, but the force needs to show evidence of achieving its plans. And it needs to show how these lead to operational and performance benefits.
Following its 2010 consultation about revaluing public-sector pensions, the government announced, in 2016 and 2018, 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 the employer. The official notification of a lower rate in September 2018 did not allow PCCs time to include the effect of this in their financial planning. In December 2018, the government announced a pension grant for 2019/20 for each PCC. It allocated funding to each force to specifically help the police pay for these increased costs in the next year. PCCs must now plan for how they will finance the increased costs in the following years, assessing the effect on their officer numbers and their ability to provide effective and efficient services.
The force needs to improve its financial planning. The force’s medium-term financial plan assumes 5 percent annual increases in the police precept and 3 percent annual vacancies in budgeted police officer and staff numbers. It is also assuming a 4 percent reduction in grant in 2021/22. The combined effect of these assumptions brings with it a measure of risk. The force should undertake sensitivity analysis and identify ways to reduce this risk.
Between 2018/19 and 2021/22, the force plans to draw £3.9m from reserves to balance annual revenue budgets. The force’s general and specific reserves are projected to fall from £20.5m in 2018/19 to £5.9m in 2021/22. This leaves the force with reduced financial security. This is particularly the case given that it must make £5.6m of savings by 2021/22 when the level of reserves is lowest.
The force should stress-test its financial resilience in the later years of its medium-term plan for potential financial and operational risks. This should identify steps to take if operational and other pressures arise alongside delays in achieving the required level of savings.
Leadership and workforce development
At one level, the force’s succession planning is good. The force knows the number of police officer retirements that are likely in the next four years and the potential loss of skills. What is less evident are the actions to address this. Much depends on the outcomes of the skills audit that was in progress during our inspection. And much depends on the force’s new personal development process.
The force’s chief officer team holds succession planning events twice a year. But these are focused solely on meeting numbers at a particular rank, with no consideration for changing skills requirements. There is no evidence of force-wide succession planning for police staff. This was an area for improvement in 2017.
The force has a talent management scheme for career development. The scheme is designed for ranks up to inspector and the police staff equivalent. Those inducted on a talent scheme stay on it for 24 months and may visit local businesses as part of their personal development. This is positive progress in an area that was identified for improvement in 2017.
Ambition to improve
Dyfed-Powys Police has some plans in place for future improvement but needs to be more ambitious. Financial plans are built on generally sound planning assumptions and subject to standard scrutiny and challenge arrangements. The emerging issue of police pensions, as outlined above, presents an additional risk at a time when reserves will become strained.
The force has identified its savings for the coming financial year. It has confirmed these are achievable before the end of the financial year. Longer-term planning to realise the force’s 2025 vision is some way off.
The force has configured its estates strategy to simple asset replacement. It has yet to be configured to meeting future needs. The force needs to ensure it understands its future demand and the resources, skills and assets it will need.Summary for question 2