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Lancashire PEEL 2018

Efficiency

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

Last updated 21/01/2020
Outstanding

Lancashire Constabulary is outstanding in the way it operates and provides sustainable services.

The constabulary is outstanding in how it is planning for the future. It understands the changing nature of the types of incidents it is being asked to deal with. It uses technology to predict how many calls and crimes it will deal with in the next four years. This means it can plan to make sure it has the people and skills it needs for the future.

The constabulary uses public surveys and social media to find out what the public want. This helps it to prioritise the services it needs to provide.

It is innovative in how it understands what the public need, analysing thousands of calls so that it can improve its service. This helps it to invest money where it is needed.

The constabulary trains its workforce to have the skills it needs. It encourages people from all communities to join the constabulary. It checks regularly that it is a diverse employer. It encourages people to become investigators, so that it can investigate crime well.

It has detailed finance plans. It knows how much money it has and how much it needs. This helps it to plan where money must be spent and where it can be saved.

The constabulary works well with other agencies and organisations, but only if it benefits the service to the public. It has collaborated with academia to develop a forensic science academy, putting it at the forefront of forensic research. This will help it prepare for the future.

In 2017, we graded the constabulary as good at meeting current demand and using resources.

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.

2

How well does the force plan for the future?

Outstanding

Assessing future demand for services

Lancashire Constabulary is outstanding at assessing future demand for services. A thorough and detailed FMS enables it to identify and assess emerging and likely future demand. This informs strategic planning and resource allocation decisions. The FMS assesses changing demand in broad terms. It makes use of partnership data and includes social and demographic changes that may affect how the constabulary will provide policing services. For example, analysis of Lancashire County Council data identified the need to increase the designing out crime officer (DOCO) capacity in response to the anticipated growth in housing. The constabulary was intending to recruit an additional DOCO in summer 2019.

The constabulary uses a range of effective procedures to analyse current and future demand. Crime levels, as well as 999 and 101 call demand, have been forecast to 2023 by applying two analytical models to current crime data. During 2020/21, the force will assess the accuracy of these methods. However, predictions for 2018/19 were for 168,705 recorded crimes; the actual figure was 167,436 recorded crimes. This was within confidence intervals and gives the force confidence for future predictions.

Like many other forces, Lancashire has seen significant increases in recorded crime recently. The constabulary’s analysis shows that the increase is mainly due to better crime recording integrity and compliance with the national crime recording standards, rather than to more people in Lancashire being victims of crime.

A detailed review looked at all aspects of the work of the force control room (FCR).
It has assessed demand as a combination of the volume of calls and the time taken to deal with them. The constabulary forecasts that the volume of 999 calls will increase during 2019 but will then reduce by 3 percent a year. For 101 calls, volumes will reduce each year until 2022.

The time taken to deal with calls is forecast to increase. FCR staff are encouraged to resolve calls at the first point of contact. The constabulary understands the total call demand on the FCR to include calls that are not recorded as new incidents, such as requests for updates on a crime investigation. When this total call demand is analysed, the constabulary has found that 80 percent of all calls are resolved within the FCR. The constabulary has calculated that working hours within the FCR have increased. It predicts that this increased demand will plateau in the future. In reaching this conclusion, the constabulary has considered the impact of new technology.
It anticipates that the Connect IT system will support and encourage the public to report crime online and make use of digital contact options. This will reduce demand on the FCR.

The constabulary is working hard to analyse those demands that are harder to quantify. The corporate development futures team carried out work during 2018/19 to understand current investigative demand and predict demand in the medium term. It found that there had been an increase in the complexity of investigations. This work is assisting the force in determining what investigative skills it needs and the balance of resources across the districts.

The constabulary will soon introduce an evidence-based investigation tool. This uses an algorithm to help officers and staff in the triage of crime investigations which have higher reporting levels, such as criminal damage. It provides a statistical approach to solving crime. The software analyses crimes and predicts which offences can be solved. This helps the constabulary to decide which crimes should be investigated further. The force is also working with academia to develop a multi-variant approach to predicting future demand, based on demographic and social factors.

The constabulary has predicted that cyber and digital investigations will increase significantly over the next four years. To meet forecast demand in digital forensics the force has invested £1.2m in the digital media investigations unit for staff, software and technology. The force plans to train a further 50 digital media investigators in the next 12 months. In 2018/19, an additional £1.5m was invested in a new forensics lab and network solution. This investment has helped to reduce waiting times for digital forensic examination from 12–18 months (two years ago) to around a month. A cyber-crime unit was established in 2018. The constabulary is in a good position to meet predicted future demand in digital and cyber.

All change programmes are subject to scrutiny and challenge. Chief officers chair the transformation board, operational board, workforce capabilities board and asset and infrastructure board. These four boards provide strategic oversight of all the constabulary’s progress in developing its people, processes, performance and change programmes. The strategic management board, chaired by the chief constable, brings all the leads together each month to provide reassurance that there is a co-ordinated approach. The constabulary is moving to a position where it goes well beyond volumes in its more detailed understanding of future demand.

Understanding public expectations

The constabulary finds out what the public expect from the police using annual surveys, priority-setting arrangements and formal and informal engagement with neighbourhood policing teams. It also considers other surveys such as those from the Office for National Statistics. It works with community safety partnerships to share information and enhance its understanding of what the public need and want. The force has significant digital channel engagement. Its social media presence has an online community of 800,000. The force has 42 Twitter accounts and 39 Facebook accounts. The two main social media accounts received 88,000 messages in the previous 12 months. The constabulary website receives 110,000 unique visits a month. The PCC survey to gauge public opinion regarding council tax precept increases secured 4,600 responses, including 1,400 from telephone surveys. Public consultation shows that more people are using digital engagement, although telephone is still the preferred means of contact.

There is clear evidence that the constabulary pays attention to the public’s views. The chief constable’s published statement of purpose and ambition is based upon this understanding. The core services review (CSR) has worked to match resources to the public’s priorities: answering calls, being able to respond to people in need and investigating crime. 

The constabulary is supporting the introduction of a single online home website for the public to access police services. But the force wants to make sure that it does not create extra work for staff, such as entering the same information on two systems. Currently, the constabulary has a system that allows the public to report crime online and submit information. The public can create an account that allows two-way engagement, such as sending out crime prevention messages. There is no web chat or social media reporting at present. Although online contact currently represents a small proportion of demand, the constabulary predicts that the introduction of single online home and webchat services will see demand increase from 35,000 in 2018 to 42,000 in 2019 and then to 68,000 in 2022. The constabulary has plans to deal with this future digital demand; it plans to introduce a digital engagement team within the FCR in 2020.

It is exploring innovative ways to understand public needs. In the last 12 months, the constabulary has been working with a private ICT provider (HPE) developing voice-to-text methodology. In the first phase of the project, 48,000 calls made to the 101 system have been converted into digital text. The constabulary is now analysing this data. It believes this will provide additional information about demand, opportunities for improving how the force deals with vulnerability and an improved understanding of public expectations. This is an exciting development in assessing future demand and understanding public engagement.

Prioritising

The core services review best demonstrates the constabulary’s commitment to aligning its priorities to changes in demand and in public expectation. The review has ensured that the force has the right people in place to meet the public’s most important needs and to meet the PCC’s vision and objectives. The constabulary is investing to further improve services within the FCR, which are due for completion in 2019. The changes will prepare it to implement future ICT projects such as the emergency services network (ESN). A major integrated communication control system upgrade will provide greater telephony system stability. It will include interactive voice response to advise callers of waiting times and signpost them to other communication channels, such as the public engagement reporting portal.

An upgrade to the Smart Storm command and control system will provide a more structured means of managing vulnerability by incorporating the THRIVE risk assessment tool. Following a pilot evaluation, the constabulary has introduced locality based ‘pods’ within the FCR to provide closer alignment between the FCR, districts and neighbourhood policing teams. The constabulary has seen improvement in call handling times because of the changes made.

The core services review moved around 163 neighbourhood officers to response and investigation roles. There are now around 500 officers and staff working in NPTs. The intention was to stabilise staffing for response teams and to increase problem-solving capacity in NPTs by reducing the need to switch officers to response teams at short notice. Our inspection found that NPT staff were already feeling the benefit of these changes. The constabulary is now carrying out work to improve the effectiveness of those officers and staff dedicated to neighbourhood policing.
The constabulary is providing early action and problem-solving training, introducing a new neighbourhood policing tasking model, and productivity and problem-solving databases for NPTs. It is continuing to work to ensure that the capabilities in each neighbourhood policing area match the needs of communities.

To underline the commitment to aligning policing priorities to issues that matter to the public, the constabulary is reopening the custody area at Burnley, has brought custody gaoler services back in-house and is investing monies from the 2019 council tax precept increase in 40 additional officers who will proactively tackle local problems. Experienced, trained officers from within its current ranks will make up the proactive teams. The constabulary’s recruitment and training plans ensure that 40 new recruits will quickly fill the gaps left by those officers, maintaining an appropriate balance of skills and experience within frontline teams.

Future workforce

The constabulary has workforce plans three to five years ahead for several core areas, such as investigations, neighbourhood and response. It has overlaid this with its understanding of the current skills gaps and future skills needs in areas such as digital and leadership. The constabulary has introduced a four-year digital training plan to deliver a tiered approach to digital training skills. The constabulary has sought to overcome gaps in its capacity to deliver face-to-face training by introducing peer coaches who support frontline staff in relation to child protection, Connect, mobile data, digital investigations and mental health.

During 2019, the constabulary intends to undertake a full review of digital capabilities using the national digital assessment toolkit. Good progress has been made in understanding the operational skills, which is being used to inform resourcing decisions and ensure balance on teams. But there is more work to do to gain a comprehensive understanding of workforce skills.

Establishing and maintaining capacity and resilience in investigators is challenging but we are reassured by the plans and efforts that are being made. The constabulary has forecast increases in complex investigations and the need to increase investigative resources. It will meet the extra demand through a programme of recruitment and revising the police officer/police staff investigator mix. It is using external recruitment options and has created the detective development pathway to encourage internal applications. It is also working with UCLan to develop within PEQF ways to spot and develop new officers who show potential to be investigators.

The constabulary has an excellent understanding of inequalities in rank mix and diversity. It analyses workforce data. There is clear ownership at chief officer level and governance arrangements to monitor action plans. A workforce representation team has made good progress in working with under-represented groups and communities to recruit and retain applicants to join the constabulary. Action on addressing internal inequalities is governed via the valuing difference and inclusion board.

The force has worked hard to reduce inequalities in the workforce. It has used direct entry, transferee recruitment, recruited from the private sector and academia into senior posts and taken positive action in under-represented communities. For example, the constabulary used its established relationship with the Polish community to encourage applications for roles within the estates department, as it knew this community possessed the skills they were seeking.

Finance plans

Financial plans and workforce planning are clearly aligned. The director of resources is the lead for both finance and workforce planning. Workforce planning meets both budgetary requirements and commitments to meet future demand. Governance arrangements ensure there are clear links between financial plans, workforce planning and the police and crime plan. Examples of these plans syncing are seen in the control room restructure and the realignment of neighbourhood policing resources.

In December 2018, the Home Office published the provisional police funding settlement for 2019/20. Prior to the funding announcement, the constabulary had calculated that although its savings plans were reducing costs, it still had a budget gap for 2019/20, of which £7.1m was made up of additional pension contributions. Following the funding settlement, the constabulary calculated that the uplift in core grant would provide £3.7m and the pension contribution £3.1m, leaving £0.3m to be found for the additional pension contribution costs. The precept increase for 2019/20 for a band D property is £24, providing additional revenue of £10.5m. The constabulary is planning to use additional funding to invest £4.1m in priority areas including a neighbourhood policing task force.

The constabulary tests its financial assumptions through the NPCC Finance Committee and the PCC’s Treasurer’s Society. The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner finance lead also sits on the Policing Portfolio Board and Police Transformation Funding Board. There is also informal discussion and testing with colleagues in other forces.

The constabulary assumes that the pension top-up grant of £3.1m will continue at the same level and that the core grant will remain the same as 2019/20 going forward. The budget position over the medium term assumes an increase of 1.5 percent in the council tax base rate, pay awards and inflation at 2 percent and no council tax increase over the period 2020/21. With no precept increase, the constabulary predicts a funding gap of £21.7m over the period 2020/21 to 2022/23. Internal scenario planning for a £12 increase for a band D property over the three-year period would generate £16.5m and reduce the funding gap to around £5m. The constabulary has identified savings of £3.5m for 2019/20 including a review of non-staff budgets, ending the North West motorway collaboration and savings from the forensic academy partnership. The constabulary plans to manage the £1.5m funding gap as part of its business planning cycle. This means it will identify further savings, revisit growth and, if necessary, use reserves to ensure it has a balanced budget.

The constabulary maintains a reserves strategy that covers the period through to 2023/24. The reserves strategy aims to maintain a general reserve of 3 to 5 percent of the annual revenue budget. At 31 March 2019, the general reserve stood at £10.2m, representing 3.6 percent of the 2019/20 revenue budget. The reserves strategy also maintains earmarked reserves. The earmarked reserves are forecast to reduce from £20.3m at 31 March 2019 to £2.2m by 31 March 2024. 

The constabulary knows only too well the importance of maintaining sufficient reserves. It frequently draws from reserves to fund the significant costs arising from the policing of demonstrations linked to onshore gas exploration (fracking) near Blackpool. A special grant from the government does not cover the total cost of policing these demonstrations. The transition reserve is used to support the capital programme, but this reserve is forecast to be exhausted by 2023/24 and the constabulary currently has a capital investment gap of £13m. While the constabulary believes that there will be financial flexibility due to slippage in some projects, for example ESN, for which £6m has been reserved, it is aware of the potential risks to the capital programme. With little opportunity to increase funding from the disposal of capital assets, such as estate, the constabulary is planning to make additional savings to fund the capital programme, particularly to fund short-term life assets.

Leadership and workforce development

The constabulary has an organisational development plan with three clear priorities for developing leaders. These are:

  • continued development of performance development review (PDR) and continuing professional development (CPD);
  • development of a comprehensive coaching, mentoring and talent support programme; and
  • continued development of the employee engagement approach.

A leadership hub has been developed where information and development for CPD is stored and accessed. A core leadership development programme is developing leaders’ understanding of their business skills and their own development needs and aspirations. The understanding of skills and ambitions assists chief officers to consider the balance of skills and leadership strengths in selecting leadership teams.

Internal talent identification, management and leadership succession planning are less well developed. The creation of a talent manager post within the organisational development team shows that the force is committed to this and a strategy is being developed. There are schemes and initiatives in place, for example, the detective development pathway and the talent 2025 scheme for BAME officers and staff. Currently, much of the talent identification and support is offered locally within departments and districts.

The constabulary is starting to see the benefits of external recruitment. All chief inspector posts and above (and police staff equivalent) are advertised externally. Staff associations are seeing the benefit of this diversity in developing new approaches. They are starting to see more diversity in the leadership team. For example, they are now recruiting senior leaders with a different skillset such as a direct entry superintendent with a background in criminal psychology and children’s services and senior police staff leaders from private industry and academia. The constabulary considers the business benefits in its recruitment decisions, for example, it has previously taken officers from Police Now but has made a conscious decision not to for the last two years. Evaluation found it was expensive and not providing the anticipated range of diversity.

Engagement with the workforce has been important in developing the new PDR and CPD system. This is proving instrumental as the force develops its career pathways. The constabulary wants officers to adopt the system because they see it adds value, rather than because they are told to use it. This means that the system is still being embedded, but the indications are that this approach is the right way to embed PDR and CPD in workforce culture. The integration of promotion processes into the system is a positive step. It will undoubtedly become integral to the identification of talent and the ability of the constabulary to improve succession planning across a range of ranks and roles.

Ambition to improve

The core services review has provided a solid operational platform for the constabulary to provide its major services. This reassurance has allowed it to develop ambitious, innovative and comprehensive plans to improve its services. The plans are realistic and built on sound, tested assumptions. The force has the skills to bring about the changes. Governance arrangements will ensure that the change programme remains on track strategically and tactically. The transformation board has oversight of all change programmes and is the senior decision-making body for medium and long-term change plans. The futures programme assurance board provides direction for all projects. This includes implementation, benefits realisation and escalation of issues that have an effect on the operating model. It ensures projects support the wider corporate strategy.

The constabulary collaborates well with police, public sector, private sector and academia to ensure that it is maximising purchasing power, increasing ICT interoperability or sharing infrastructure. There is a forensic collaboration with UCLan and with Edge Hill University on evidence-based policing. It collaborates with Cumbria Constabulary on a joint learning and development arrangement and with Lancashire County Council on payroll, ledger and support services.

The constabulary collaborates with many public sector partners in neighbourhood policing arrangements across nine areas. It is progressing blue light collaboration with the FRS and developing several areas of collaboration, such as drone use. As the constabulary develops the force control room further, it is considering including FRS in the new structure. There are additional FRS opportunities around public order training and occupational health units (OHUs). The force is working with HPE on voice-to-text analysis, Dell around its digital platform and with Police ICT companies to ensure it is efficient in IT procurement.

It is also evident that the constabulary will only collaborate where there is a sound business case. The constabulary has withdrawn from regional firearms and motorway collaboration agreements. Progress was slow on improving the service and the evidence indicated that on its own, the constabulary could provide a service that better suited its requirements.

The constabulary has taken steps to ensure that resources are focused on priorities. The CSR has changed workforce structures and realigned resources to meet the changing demand. It has provided reassurance to the workforce and partners where there is a risk of a perceived reduction in service. It has reviewed its custody provision, which has resulted in bringing back in-house its custody arrangements and reopening the custody suite at Burnley. The PCC and the constabulary considered that the changes would provide greater opportunities to develop staff and align them to priorities such as vulnerability. The transfer was completed in April 2019. The constabulary reports that over 100 staff have transferred across without any negative impact on performance. The use of precept monies to improve proactive work in communities will assist the force in achieving the PCC priorities and reassure the public that they are being listened to.

To ensure that it has the resources with the skills required to meet the need for change, the constabulary has invested in programme management skills and bought in some specialist expertise. All corporate development staff can gain Chartered Management Institute accreditation in change skills, so professionalising the approach to change. The constabulary has invested in support services, estate and ICT, which it credits with helping to redesign the FCR. It also buys in some ICT expertise through relationships with business such as BT Lancashire Services Ltd. It has scaled back on agency support and has developed some in-house skills but recognises that retention is always an issue as it cannot compete with salaries in the private sector. However, it is making good use of phased retirement within the ICT department to retain vital skills and develop skills for the future by job sharing with less experienced staff.

There are plans to save to invest. It has a savings plan to achieve £3.5m in 2019/20, £0.8m in 2020/21 and £0.5m in 2021/22. A significant proportion of the savings will be realised from reviews of all non-staff budgets, ending the North West motorway collaboration, and additional income from the forensic academy partnership. It has invested in a new West district headquarters. There are plans to update Skelmersdale station and bring Burnley custody unit back online, and custody provision has been taken back in-house. The forensic academy in collaboration with UCLan is a good example of the constabulary’s approach to investing in infrastructure and assets to make future savings.

Summary for question 2