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Gwent PEEL 2018

Efficiency

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

Last updated 21/01/2020
Good

Gwent Police is good at planning for the future and has used a wide range of information to understand future demand. It has used software to inform its future predictions. This links to its FMS, which it uses to test its predictions and build a better picture of gaps in future policing.

The force is improving its understanding of what the public expects, which will help it plan for future demand.

The force is good at prioritising resources, and adapting them to meet demand.

The force has predicted future retirements and staff increases. But it needs to consider changing requirements to ensure its workforce has the right skills for the future.

The force has a comprehensive medium-term financial plan (MTFP). This includes the longer-term financial issues facing the police service in Gwent.

The force’s plans for future joint working and collaboration are ambitious and based on a clear understanding of the benefits. Collaborative working has increased efficiency and created savings.

In 2017, we judged that the force’s approach to meeting current demand and using resources was good. We have carried over our judgment from the 2017 efficiency inspection. 

Questions for Efficiency

1

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

Good

This question was not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2017 efficiency inspection has been carried over.

However, Gwent Police had two areas for improvement in our 2017 efficiency inspection. These were:

  • The force should develop a plan to recover non-emergency abandoned calls.This has been addressed.
  • The force should conduct a leadership skills audit that will allow it to understand leadership capacity and capability. This is in progress.
2

How well does the force plan for the future?

Good

Areas for improvement

  • The force needs to ensure that public expectations form part of future 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

The force is good at assessing its future demand.

The Gwent Police Strategic Intelligence Assessment 2018/19 found the potential for significant future public order demand in the medium to short term. For example, increased future demand in respect of non-domestic violent crime and on the police online investigation team due to new technology.

The force has used a wide range of information to understand future demand for its criminal investigation department, public protection unit and first point of contact room. It identifies and assesses emerging and likely future demand for its social media
desk services.

In our 2017 efficiency report, we said that Gwent Police shows a comprehensive understanding of the demand for its services. We reported that the force uses a range of ways to monitor trends in demand and its own effectiveness and efficiency in meeting that demand. These methods include the force’s own performance framework and a commercial demand modelling software package.

In 2019, we found that the force has a good relationship with the specialist company working with it on its demand modelling software. The force now has in-house skills and the company provides five consultancy days each year to support the force.

Informed by its modelling work, the force predicts change over the next three to five years. For example, it assessed the work of police constables and police community support officers (PCSOs) in neighbourhood teams. It then connected their activities to neighbourhood policing priorities to make sure staff are being used effectively. The force also analyses demographic data to ensure neighbourhood resources are in the right places.

The force connects its modelling work to its FMS. Doing this means it identifies likely future effects and factors them into the modelling. One example is the changes in custody provision (the opening of the Ystrad Mynach custody unit) to understand the impact on response officers of matters such as travelling time. The impact of the FFF project (the Fixed, Flexible, Field IT programme for laptops and mobile phones) has also been modelled. As a result, the force made changes to its use of NICHE technology and simplified the forms it uses.

The FMS shows a good understanding of future demand and that the force comprehensively considers its issues. It highlights opportunities for technology to assess future demand. The force knows technology (such as cyber crime) will drive future demand, but it hasn’t fully analysed this yet.

The force has worked well with partners to assess demand. It is building an evidence-based approach to ensure benefits and outcomes are clear. For example, academics are evaluating its Early Action Together programme, referred to in the Vulnerability section of this report, which is being academically evaluated. This builds evidence and helps measure success.

Gwent Police has learned a lot from the FMS process. The first version involved business leads and used wide-ranging data. The second used the first to test predictions and build a better picture of gaps in future provision. The force wants to turn the FMS into a living document. It recognises the statement has helped increase its understanding of demand and the future of the force.

Understanding public expectations

The force understands what the public currently wants from it. It is less clear about future public expectations and how this can be used for future planning.

The force has changed how it works with communities to set police priorities. Using online surveys through Twitter, the force is asking communities directly what they want from Gwent Police. This information can help predict demand in specific communities. More detail on this work is included in the Treating the public fairly section of this report.

The force and the police and crime commissioner have a joint engagement and communications strategy (2018–22). It sets out how the force wants to communicate and engage with communities and interested parties. It explains key objectives for engagement and communication over the coming years in line with the police and crime priorities for Gwent, these objectives are:

  • empowering local residents to make communities safer;
  • informing communities of action taken;
  • involving communities in shaping policing services; and
  • consulting the public to inform strategic decision making.

The social media desk gives the public another way to contact the force. It has run surveys to understand the views of people who did this between December 2018 and May 2019. Most thought the service was good and a helpful and worthwhile resource, which provided quick responses and allowed police to easily gather digital evidence.

Prioritising

The force is good at prioritising its resources. The police and crime commissioner’s vision is that the people of Gwent have confidence in their crime and policing services, which makes them feel safe in their communities.

The five-year Gwent police and crime plan is reviewed jointly every year to ensure it aligns with the force’s strategic and financial planning process. It is also updated during the year. The force considers the priorities in the plan when setting budgets and taking action.

The current plan includes priorities like tackling SOC, addressing cyber-enabled and cyber-dependent criminality and protecting people made vulnerable by criminal and sexual exploitation. The force reflects these in its budget proposals.

The force allocates resources to meet the police and crime commissioner’s vision and objectives. For example, the force’s people plan aims to help the force respond to changing demands and challenges as effectively as possible. The force is making sure it has the specialist capabilities needed to tackle more complex crimes, such as sexual offences and online crime.

It is too early to judge how well the force’s plans take into account public expectations. The force has only recently gathered this information.

Future workforce

The force is adapting its future workforce needs. For example, the force has changed job descriptions for the first point of contact room. They now reflect future skills, including using social media, not just the phone.

The force has also redesigned workforce and training plans to ensure first point of contact room staff have the skills and capabilities to meet demand and improve service. The force has predicted future retirements, staff increases and the budget at all levels until 2023/24.

Key to delivering the workforce requirements is the People Plan 2019–2022. The priority areas are:

  • embed a learning culture;
  • take a structured approach to leadership and talent development;
  • provide the knowledge, skills and processes needed to do a great job;
  • ensure effective, fair and robust recruitment, selection and retention;
  • develop strategies and structures that can deliver Policing Vision 2025; and
  • communicate a clear vision for the future.

The force recruits from outside and actively encourages transferees from other police forces. It also has a direct entry inspector. The force aspires to be a policing service that looks and feels like Gwent. It wants to be able to change its blend of skills rapidly as criminals find new ways to commit crime.

The force is aiming to have a new employment framework to ensure it can attract, develop, deploy, retain, lead and reward the workforce best able to represent and serve the public. It feels its current employment model needs to offer better value for money and direct investment into areas where it will have greatest impact.

Finance plans

Force plans take account of future funding and spending. The MTFP is the key document that forecasts the financial impact of future demand on the force. It is a rolling forecast giving five years of revenue income and spending projections. 

The police and crime commissioner sets out a five-year capital programme that projects income (grants and sales proceeds) and spending on capital items (for example, police cars). While developing proposals for a balanced revenue budget and affordable capital programme, the MTFP includes longer-term financial issues facing the police service. This includes the wider portfolio of what the police and crime commissioner will be spending money on.

Plans make provision for the potential future financial challenges from the review of the police funding formula. From 2021/22 to 2023/24, the MTFP includes plans for £6m less funding, based on its understanding of what the new formula might be. The current MTFP also reflects the flat cash position of the police settlement and a 6.99 percent increase in the council tax precept. The MTFP takes into account planned efficiency savings, identified cost pressures including increased pension costs, and inflationary increases for both pay and non-pay costs. It shows a deficit before future years’ service improvement schemes of £184,000 rising to £10.955m in 2022/23.

For Gwent, the estimated increase in police officer employer pension contributions will be £3.255m. The expected central government grant funding will be £1.501m (Gwent’s share of £146m) and £1.325m (Gwent’s share of £143m), resulting in a shortfall to fund pensions in 2019/20 of around £0.429m. This shortfall will be met from a contribution from the police and crime commissioner’s reserves and committed funds and not from council tax precept. This issue is further compounded by whether the Specific Pension Grant will be recurrently provided from 2020/21 onwards to meet the recurrent pension costs.

The police and crime commissioner sets reserves based on the forecast outturn for the current year, the projected MTFP and capital programme. The force must meet gaps in the budget by being more efficient.

Gwent Police has sufficient reserves and has made savings. The force had a previous area for improvement around ensuring it had adequate plans in place while also making savings. This has now been met.

The police and crime commissioner’s and force reserves have risen by £17.68m in cash terms since 2011/12. In real terms, they have increased by £13.7m. This increase is mainly due to the force’s ‘staying ahead’ programme.

This has helped the force achieve difficult savings ahead of time. It has also generated extra reserves to help redesign the estate (for example, buildings) and introduce new initiatives.

As at 31 March 2018, the total usable reserves of £57.7m represent 45.9 percent of the net cost of services compared with the all-Wales average of 19.1 percent. This includes £12.2m committed to funding future spending on the site at Ystrad Mynach. A further £14.7m will also fund replacing the current police headquarters at Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran. Carrying out the current capital programme (building new headquarters) will require the continuation of a recurrent revenue contribution to capital of £2.6m, use of reserves and committed funds. It will also need significant borrowing (£38.2m to 2022/23) to fund the programme’s requirements.This will create long-term cashable and non-cashable benefits. These include appropriate and more sustainable estate provision and a fit-for-purpose fleet while maximising returns on ICT investment. The force forecasts reserves will reduce to £9.7m over the five-year forecasting period.

The force’s financial planning includes all known future possibilities with contingencies depending on what happens. Since 2015, the force has made £7m savings, which has been reinvested in police numbers and cost-saving projects.

The £6m deficit is covered by the assumption of needing £6m to cover the potential changes to the funding formula. Savings of £1.7m are included for 2019/20 with £1.5m from the operating model (overtime, reviews of service areas and cashable efficiencies) and £200,000 from procurement. The force may need to use reserves and is discussing this with the police and crime commissioner, although if the UK Government pays the pensions costs, this will not be needed. The most recent version of the MTFP shows a much smaller projected deficit with increased savings.

Leadership and workforce development

The force has done a thorough assessment of future workforce demand.

This is clearly explained in the force’s People Plan 2019–2022. The plan links with the national Policing Vision 2025, is fully costed and done in collaboration with an outside business partner. It shows how the force thinks its service provision and the workforce can respond to forecasted demand.

For example, the force has identified the need for a more diverse workforce reflecting the local community. So it has put in place recruitment initiatives aimed at attracting more black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME), lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and female staff.

The force is an early adopter of the Policing Education Qualification Framework. It recognises the benefits of a workforce linked to the higher education community, where previously people may not have considered a career in the police.

The workforce is young. So the force has several initiatives to find future leaders and retain experienced officers staff near retirement. It has also done an analysis of leadership skills, which has spotted gaps in business skills in senior leadership.

The force has done an internal skills and capability gap analysis of chief inspecting ranks, equivalent police staff grades and above. This has identified gaps such as experienced investigators and specialist roles such as occupational health practitioners.

It has done work to address some of these early findings. One example is the tri-party occupational health collaboration with South Wales Police and the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

Gwent Police is considering recruiting police staff investigators. However, the force has not yet matched the outcome of the analysis with role requirements to better understand gaps, succession planning and training requirements. The force did gap analysis for all other ranks as part of its workforce planning and profiling of age/retirement/skills exercise.

The force uses outside scrutiny to assess candidates from inside the force. Selection and promotion processes include representatives from staff associations. The College of Policing and an NHS chief executive officer were involved in recent chief officer group selection panels.

Outside psychometric testing (psychological measurement) is also part of the process. During the inspection, senior managers were very positive about outside scrutiny on panels.

The force has a talent management process allowing line managers and peers to nominate talented people. It has run at least two talent management programmes.

This is a ten-month development programme to develop personal skills and isn’t focused on promotion. The workforce values the process and sees it as fair. The force has also had several officers take the police constable-to-inspector fast track scheme.

Ambition to improve

The force’s plans for future joint working and collaboration are ambitious and based on a clear understanding of the benefits. Collaborative working has increased efficiency and generated savings. Through the all-Wales collaboration, the force developed a single e-recruitment system, a joint recruitment assessment centre and shared training programmes. The new process has reduced application timescales and achieved contract cost savings.

The force is collaborating with South Wales Police to provide mobile IT devices to the workforce. This is providing service improvements and efficiencies.

Since summer 2018, the joint digital services division has focused on giving frontline officers mobile phones and laptops. This allows them to access all police systems. The force is evaluating the project and producing a business benefit report examining business improvements across several areas.

The evaluation shows staff are using laptops more and mobile phones less. Benefits include increased productivity, and officers are more visible to the public because they don’t need to return to their stations to use IT systems.

The force has ambitious plans for future joint working and collaboration. It is strongly committed to working with South Wales Police and the other Welsh forces around technology.

This aim to build services across both forces has grown over time. The force now wants to work together and develop shared support functions.

There is a clear shared commitment to bringing together IT resources across Gwent and South Wales forces. This is supported by a joint digital services division and a joint strategy bringing IT together and ensuring forces use the same systems.

Both forces have a future ambition to have shared cloud-based resources across both organisations.

Summary for question 2