Hampshire PEEL 2018
How efficiently does the force operate and how sustainable are its services to the public?
Hampshire Constabulary is an efficient police force. Although it has a lower level of funding than most other forces in England and Wales, it uses its resources well and has a good track record of achieving savings and putting improvements in place to become more efficient.
The force has a balanced budget for this financial year. At the time of the inspection the force told us that without extra funding they will need to make greater savings in the 2020/21 financial year. There are high-level plans to achieve these if needed, but the force is clear that any further savings can only be achieved to the detriment of the service it provides to the public. Since our fieldwork the force has been allocated additional funding as part of the national uplift programme. The impact of the uplift will not be felt immediately but the force is not now under the same pressure to make these savings. We will continue to monitor the effect of any savings on service to
It is good at analysing future demand for its services and how it may need to respond. The force uses a range of data to understand demand and uses different processes to examine short, medium and long-term demand. It has worked with local authorities, academics and health services to look at the themes that will affect demand in the long term. It has also consulted the public on what it expects of police services.
It has made good use of force management statements in its future planning. Through this we can see how the force is identifying the demand and risks of the future and starting to change how it uses its resources to respond to these.
So, for instance, the force is aware of the effect of new technology on its services. It is improving its capacity to investigate IT-related crime by putting more resources into tackling internet-enabled crime. It has also changed how the public can access services and report crime by using a new online portal to let the public contact the police and report crime and accidents. The force has also recognised that it has a need for increased investigative capabilities and is changing how it uses some staff to achieve this.
In 2017 we judged Hampshire Constabulary to be good at meeting current demands and using resources.
How well does the force use its resources to meet the demand it faces?
This question was not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2017 efficiency inspection has been carried over.However, there are two areas for improvement identified from this inspection:
- The force should review how it manages calls from the public that would justify the attendance of an officer but do not fall within the criteria for an urgent call. This is to ensure that excessive demand is not imposed on the control room or attending officers.
- The force should undertake appropriate activities to fully understand its workforce’s capabilities, in order to identify any gaps and put plans in place to address them. This will enable the force to be confident in its ability to be efficient in meeting current and likely future demand.
As part of our fieldwork we reviewed progress made by the force in these areas for improvement.
The force has made some progress in how it manages calls from the public. There is a pilot scheme which involves staff reviewing outstanding calls for service that haven’t yet been attended by an officer. It identifies those suitable for a scheduled appointment, which is arranged, and those that can be dealt with over the telephone. This scheme doesn’t operate throughout the whole force area and hasn’t yet been evaluated. We will revisit this area for improvement during our next inspection.
The force has made progress in understanding workforce capabilities. It is now better at recording workforce skills on its IT systems and is focused on understanding which skills are needed to meet demand. As part of the annual performance assessment process the force focuses on what it has termed ‘licence to police’, making sure that everyone’s training requirements are fully up to date.
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
Hampshire Constabulary analyses future demand and its effect on service provision well.
It has recently analysed predicted future demand. It used data about calls for service, reports of crime and interviews with staff to identify how demand is likely to change over the next year.
The force supports using force management statements to self-assess and submit to us each year. It integrates the outcomes of demand analysis work and the force management statement in its future planning. Future plans are thoroughly assessed by the chief officer using the business planning process.
The force has also hosted a future planning event at the University of Portsmouth. This brought together academics and partners such as local authorities, health services and the Office for National Statistics to discuss the strategic themes that will affect demand in the long term.
Its picture of future demand considers the effect of new technology. The force is growing its capacity to work in what it calls the ‘digital beat’ by investing in its capacity to investigate IT-related crime. It was an early user of the single online home portal through which the public can access police services and make reports. This is more efficient and in line with how people want to contact the force. Frontline officers have body-worn video camera equipment and mobile data terminals, so they can do basic tasks without returning to the station. We were encouraged to see this equipment being used to record evidence at the scenes of crimes.
The force has taken positive steps to identify emerging and hidden demand. The 2018 force management statement shows how it anticipates an increase in demand from vulnerable people. An ageing population, the infiltration of county lines drugs networks, increased knife crime and more reporting of domestic abuse will increase this type of demand.
Understanding public expectations
The force understands what the public expects of it after consulting them about force funding, priorities and preferred means of contact.
Public consultation by the police and crime commissioner (PCC) showed that most residents who responded would pay more for policing. They also said that tackling violent crime, preventing crime and addressing anti-social behaviour were their top priorities for investment. These priorities are shared by the force and come under its six areas of focus (learning and improving, the values in the Code of Ethics, looking after our people, building partnerships, tackling crime and offending, identifying and protecting those who need help).
A separate consultation showed the public wants to make more use of social media and online services to access policing services. The force has made significant progress in this area. With Thames Valley Police, it is the first force outside the Metropolitan Police Service to adopt the single online home portal. This went live in July 2018 and allows members of the public to contact the police online. People can report crime and report road traffic accidents, including uploading dashcam imagery. Figures supplied by the force during our fieldwork indicated that 70 percent of all traffic accidents and 7 percent of all crime is now reported this way. Increases are expected as the system matures.
Hampshire Constabulary understands its priority clearly, which is to make safer communities. This is in line with the PCC’s police and crime plan. The chief constable’s six areas of focus are well known by the workforce.
Below this level, the chief constable is quite clear that public safety and protecting vulnerable people is the overriding force priority. This has been an influential factor in planning for 2019/20.
From its analysis of future demand, the force identifies that it will need greater investigative capacity. To achieve this, it is making savings by reducing the number of PCSOs in neighbourhood teams. These savings are being reinvested in more police officers in neighbourhood teams and more civilian investigators with higher investigation qualifications. The force believes this is the best way to create a more flexible workforce, one that can adapt to changes in demand while engaging well with the community.
Community engagement is important. In consultations the force heard that the public sees lower level problems, such as anti-social behaviour, as high priorities for police action. Although the force recognises that such problems are important, it places greater importance on higher risk issues, such as protecting vulnerable people. We discussed with the force how it would manage this difference in expectation.
We were reassured to learn that it had used the consultation process to explain the reasoning behind its investment decisions. It is also committed to maintaining a presence in neighbourhoods.
Hampshire Constabulary has identified the skills and capabilities it needs to meet future demand. Its people plan makes sure that these skills and capabilities are being prioritised and developed. For instance, the force recognises the increasing effect of internet-enabled crime on future demand. It is increasing its investigative resources in this area by training more officers in digital media investigation. It also recognises that it needs enough resources in place to deal with the rates of 101 calls from the public.
The force is working to reflect the makeup of its local population in its workforce. It has focused specific recruitment activity towards black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, although it recognises it needs to do more in this area. It also offers mentoring to BAME officers and staff to help them progress in their careers, and to support retention.
It makes good use of varied recruitment routes and external secondments to develop talent. Applicants have joined the force through Direct Entry, Fast Track and Police Now. It makes good use of the opportunities offered by the Cambridge University master’s programme to develop selected officers and staff. A secondment programme with an outside company helps secondees develop business and project management skills that wouldn’t be available in the force.
Hampshire Constabulary has a balanced budget for the 2019/20 financial year funded in part by a precept increase of £24 per annum for Band D properties. The precept increase in 2019/20 is directed at local policing priorities, including increasing investigative capabilities. This means the force can recruit 200 officers to keep staffing levels in line with its budgeted numbers. The force has been able to redirect £7m: £6m to frontline policing in neighbourhood and response and patrol teams and £1m to investigating crimes. It has done so through this year’s savings programme, which includes estate management and changing the workforce mix. Arrangements for public consultation on the budget were good and there is evidence that public priorities are generally reflected in the force’s financial plans.
The budget and medium-term financial plan are based on realistic assumptions with suitable challenge from experts, including a working group of the Police and Crime Panel. As part of its planning, several scenarios were prepared alongside the potential effect on service to the public. The force has a record of achieving financial savings, but its medium-term financial plan identifies that savings of £10.4m will still be required by 2022/23. Some savings plans have already been built into the forecast and it has high-level plans to address this gap.
Reserves are considered adequate for the current financial year but are forecast
to reduce from £54.4m in March 2019 to £26.7m by March 2023. The reduction is mostly because it is spending £20m of reserves to support the investment in technology development and digital initiatives. It is also spending a further £3m on its estates strategy. The force is aware of the risk and proposes bolstering its reserves from any underspend at year-end and capital receipts more than planned values from its future estate planning.
Since the government’s 2010 consultation about revaluing public sector pensions, it has twice (in 2016 and 2018) reduced the discount rate for contributions to the underfunded public sector pension schemes. This includes the police service pension scheme. A lower discount rate will mean higher contribution rates for the force. The official notification of a lower rate in September 2018 didn’t allow PCCs and mayors time to include it in their financial planning. In December 2018, the government announced a pension grant for 2019/20 for each PCC and mayor. It allocated funding to each force specifically to help the police pay for these increased costs in the 2019/20 year. In Hampshire’s case, the extra annual cost is £7.5m, which is offset in 2019/20 by a specific grant of £2.99m. Hampshire Constabulary has assumed that the pensions grant is for one year only. PCCs and mayors must now plan for how they will finance the increased costs in subsequent years. They will have to assess the effect on officer numbers and their ability to provide effective and efficient services.
Leadership and workforce development
Hampshire Constabulary has taken a thoughtful approach to developing leadership, talent and workforce capability.
It intends to increase organisational performance and capability by developing high performing officers and staff across the force. Its approach to leadership training is designed to support this by training leaders to use different skills and styles to get the best from the workforce. It is also making sure that the whole workforce has the right skills and accreditation for their role. The force recognises that there will be more pressure on officers in terms of demand, exposure to traumatic incidents and lone working. To help create a more resilient workforce it is investing £1.6m over the next three years in psychological screening. This will identify early signs of stress and give members of the workforce extra support.
There are formal succession plans in place for important posts. But the force doesn’t just view development as rank progression and promotion. It has provided other career pathways, such as enabling police staff investigators to progress to a higher level investigator role in investigations command.
In our 2017 efficiency inspection we identified that the force could do more to identify and develop talented people and make greater use of career development schemes. We are pleased that a Developing Potential Scheme is set to start in June 2019. It is open to all staff, up to and including inspector and police staff equivalent, and will support people in their current role or develop them for a new one. This scheme will be one way to become part of Hampshire Constabulary’s talent pool that has tailored development opportunities. Other routes into the talent pool are the Fast Track and Direct Entry schemes, the Firefly talent management scheme and being a BAME mentee. This combination of routes will help the force develop more diverse leaders for the future.
Ambition to improve
Hampshire Constabulary has identified the changes it needs to make so that it prioritises resources to meet changing demand.
It is re-investing £7m of savings for the 2019/20 financial year into increasing its ability to investigate crime. It will also be giving frontline staff new IT equipment to help them work more efficiently. The new contact management platform is expected to be in place in summer 2019. This will help the force quickly identify how vulnerable a caller is and should generate efficiencies and savings.
It has managed to make £2m in revenue savings in its budget through the PCC’s estate strategy. This year will see a new investigation centre open in Portsmouth providing new and modern facilities for detainees and the force.
Besides these recent savings, figures supplied by the force show that since 2011/12 it has saved £90m and now operates with 1,500 fewer staff. It is the second lowest funded force per thousand population in England and Wales, and as a result started making savings before many other forces. To achieve these the force has become good at understanding its demand and developing smarter ways of working. It has strong change management processes that look in detail at change proposals. It has restructured how it deploys staff and has developed collaborative working arrangements. These have been with other police forces, such as Thames Valley and regional forces, and with external partners such as Hampshire County Council and other blue light services. It contributes well to multi-agency teams such as the MASH and other partnerships such as those designed to protect children from exploitation. It continues to explore whether other regional collaborations are viable.
The force recognises the effect of its change plans on the public. It has told us that it isn’t confident that it can maintain current levels of service if it needs to make more savings. Nor if demand increases beyond its capability to respond within its present operating structure and resources.
The police respond to incidents based on an assessment of threat, harm and risk. But if necessary, the force intends to tolerate a higher level of threat, harm and risk when making decisions about how to respond. This may mean that in the future it will not be able to investigate some reports of crime to the same standards as now. This could either be as a temporary measure to manage demand, or as a planned response to savings. This may mean that some victims of crime in Hampshire will not receive the response or level of service they may expect or have previously received, leading to them feeling let down. Additionally, offenders who should be brought to justice may be allowed to re-offend. The officer uplift announced by the government since our fieldwork will, in time, help the force maintain its current level of service. However, this may take some time to become fully effective. We will continue to monitor this situation and work with the force and PCC, as all victims of crime should receive a response appropriate to their needs.Summary for question 2