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Metropolitan PEEL 2018

Efficiency

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

Last updated 09/09/2019
Good

The Metropolitan Police Service is good at meeting current demand and using resources. It works closely with other organisations to understand demand. Its restructure will help it manage increasing demand with reducing resources. It needs to oversee the skills and capabilities of its workforce centrally. It is focusing on new digital ways of working to assist in managing its demand. There are some excellent examples of innovation and working with others.

The force has an effective approach to planning for the future. It has done a lot of work to understand current and future demand. It has linked its planning with other functions such as human resources (HR) and finance. Its plans are ambitious but achievable. The force works well with its partners. It understands what the public wants and uses this feedback to change the services it provides. It sets and manages its budgets well. But it faces a funding gap for the financial year 2022/23.

Questions for Efficiency

1

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

Good

Areas for improvement

  • The force should review the workforce skills and capabilities information that it already has, including for its leaders, to assure itself that its understanding is as comprehensive as it can be. It should ensure that it has central governance with a central database. This will enable the force to be confident in its ability to be efficient in meeting current and likely future demand.

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

The Metropolitan Police Service has assessed demand, and expected future demand, across all police operations. It describes its force management statement as being a catalyst for considering how it responds to demand. The integrated design delivery team looks at how the organisation can work better to ensure quality of service to the public. The new strategic insight unit reviews the changing patterns of demand. In doing its analysis, the force has reviewed all internal processes, consulted with partners and external organisations, and looked at good practice from other forces both within the UK and abroad.

The force has used an external company to assess how to match its available resources to current and expected demand. This includes how it will manage the increase in the amount and complexity of demand with a reducing workforce. The force does an annual strategic assessment using the MoRiLE risk assessment system. This assesses demand in terms of risk, harm and threat. All this analysis provides the basis for the force’s strategy designs. This includes the force control strategy and crime assessment policy, which prioritise according to harm, threat and risk, and available resource. The force performance board reviews and approves the control strategy every six months. 

The force works closely with the public, partners and other interested parties to understand hidden demand. Community safety leaders are very involved in this work. The force is taking the lead in some areas of vulnerability and safeguarding. This includes female genital mutilation, human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, and serious and organised crime involving county lines. Analysis of hidden demand and data at BCU level is provided to the safeguarding board aided by a newly developed ‘Met performance dashboard’.

Understanding factors that influence demand

The force works with MOPAC to consider external factors that affect demand. The force has invested in a new strategic insight unit to help it understand external demand and the implications across the organisation. It is looking at the wider external factors that affect both volume and complexity. These include a growing population, demographic changes, changing crime patterns and the effect of Brexit. From this, the force can map the data to ward level.

The transformation portfolio has reviewed local policing to identify areas that can be more efficient. This has reduced demand in several ways. Its suggestions include:

  • encouraging the public to report crimes online via the digital 101 facilities;
  • deploying an officer only when necessary; and
  • creating a TDIU to manage more investigations remotely.

Eleven percent of crimes are now reported online and the TDIU deals with 45 percent of all reported crime. This has reduced demand for response officers. The force reports having significantly fewer deployments as the result of these initiatives.

The force is focusing on streamlining internal processes because these cause unnecessary bureaucracy and waste. It has reviewed all policies and removed areas of duplication, as well as documents and practices that are no longer relevant. The force has recently moved from 32 boroughs to a new 12-BCU structure. This has given BCU commanders larger areas of responsibility. Some councils have had concerns about this. But the force continues to work with its partners to improve efficiency and understand each other’s demand.

The continuous improvement team has run several ‘day in the life’ exercises to understand workloads. The force has implemented the BCU transformation in three waves. The first wave included feedback meetings with BCU staff. These allowed the force to understand what worked well, what didn’t and what needed to be changed in the next wave. These pilot areas experienced some significant challenges, especially in relation to response times. The force reacted quickly by introducing a solution and ensured that it made improvements in the remaining phases of change. The force is also taking some action to reduce demand with changes to its crime screening policy. It no longer investigates low-value crime when there is no suspect identified. 

Working with others to meet demand

The force recognises that it cannot manage demand on its own. It has committed to joint working and has effective arrangements to manage demand efficiently across organisations. Mental health is a considerable demand to all emergency services. The new force model emphasises partnership, interventions and prevention work. Each command unit has a mental health team. The Serenity integrated mentoring project works with mental health teams across London to support people in crisis. Initiatives with dedicated hospital liaison officers are seen as positive. BCU officers also work with mental health nurses, the marine support unit and SO15 (counter terrorism command) on suicide prevention with vulnerable individuals.

The force has secured transformation funding to explore the benefits of sharing control rooms with the ambulance service and fire service, to triage calls and provide a joint response. Pilot projects with the fire service in dealing with people who have collapsed behind closed doors, and providing joint crime prevention advice, are examples of good joint working.

Innovation and new opportunities

One of the force’s priorities over the next seven years is to ‘learn from experience, from others and constantly strive to improve’. It has engaged a range of business consultants to provide expertise to support the Met Direction strategy. A recent exercise, co-ordinated by the force and supported by KPMG, University College London and Deloitte, looked at ‘5 days to change the Met’. This engaged public, private and academic partners over five days of planning for the future, design work, prototyping and engagement.

The Metropolitan Police Service has worked with West Midlands Police on artificial intelligence, Hampshire Constabulary on non-crime domestic reporting, and Police Scotland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland on the change portfolio. It is also talking to the New York Police Department to establish a formal mentoring, problem-solving and exchange programme. The force also has funding to create an academic partnership with the Toronto Police Service to look at how they use data and visually present it for frontline delivery.

The force has worked with several business schools and academia in areas such as recruitment techniques and HR policy. The street doctor scheme with the University of Kingston is an example of innovative working. Here, medical students talk with other undergraduates and the public about knife crime.

The MetTrace scheme in response to residential burglaries (discussed earlier) has been a success for the force. The force has calculated that the scheme has saved £3.2m in police costs and £36m in costs to society. It has secured funding for a new MetTrace contract and the project will be extended.

We were pleased to see that the force looks externally for new talent. It has brought people in through the Police Now and direct entry schemes, including detectives and senior officers from other forces. Another example of innovation is the secondment of the current head of intelligence and covert policing from another government agency. This person comes from a background in counter-terrorism, intelligence and security-related issues. The secondment is an opportunity for the force to enhance its approach to intelligence gathering.

Operation Venice is a good example of innovation. This initiative is the force’s approach to moped-enabled crime. In 2017, there was a substantial increase in the use of stolen two-wheel vehicles to commit crime. The force considered options such as pursuit tactics, intelligence opportunities, crime flagging, the investigative response and continuity of evidence. Operation Venice provides pragmatic and realistic crime prevention advice and various tactical response options.

The force worked with industry to design motorcycles to assist in the pursuit of scooters in a city environment. It was the first force to use the prototype that had been developed. Remote-controlled stingers increase the safety of officers and are more effective for stopping scooters committing further offences. Body-worn video footage is also used in active pursuits. The force trained specialist teams in their legal powers and available tactical options. These include the development of ‘forensic tagging’ using a unique spray that helps to identify the suspects and scooters involved. A further 15 forces now use this tactic nationally and it is considered good practice.

Investment and benefits

The first phase of the transformation portfolio aimed to save £700m without reducing operational effectiveness. It met these savings mainly through budget scrutiny. The focus is now on changing the way the force operates along with targeted reductions in back office functions. To support the programme, the force is planning to invest £1.58 billion from 2018/19 to 2022/23. It will fund £380m of this from selling parts of its estate. It will invest:

  • £800m in bringing the remaining buildings up to date;
  • £130m in its fleet to reduce emissions; and
  • £520m in ICT infrastructure, including body-worn video and mobile technology for all officers and staff.

The force is aware of the savings that are still required and understands that it must plan for 2022/23, when it will face a budget gap of £167m.

The transformation portfolio aims to reduce the demand to the front line and ensure that officers have a fair workload. The digital policing strategy has helped demand management. The force has also invested in a ‘public access and first contact’ portfolio. On 15 August 2018, it introduced its automated IVR system to filter calls. It anticipated that the system would divert 10–15 percent of all calls to the control room. It has reduced demand by 30–35 percent. 

Before introducing IVR, a high number of calls weren’t answered within target times and too many were abandoned. Comparing July 2018 with September 2018:

  • the number of 999 calls answered within the target time increased from 56 percent to 78 percent;
  • the number of 101 calls answered within the target time increased from 7 percent to 61 percent; and
  • the number of abandoned 101 calls reduced from 57 percent to 23 percent.

We believe that this is only part of the benefit that the force could realise. If the force can encourage staff within the call centres to manage risk and close incidents at the earliest opportunity, this would further reduce demand to frontline staff and improve public satisfaction.

Prioritising different types of demand

The transformation portfolio is the force’s largest ever structural change. As part of this, the force analysed BCU demand in detail. It reports that the new model hasn’t cut costs but is sustainable. The focus is on strengthening local policing and providing a more visible neighbourhood presence. The command of response, neighbourhood, investigation and safeguarding has all returned to a local level. There is an increase of about 1,700 officer posts dedicated to tackling local priorities and anti-social behaviour. The force has reduced management costs, including staffing, estate and fleet, to maximise the availability of frontline staff. Smarter working also supports the aim for greater public visibility, with the roll-out of over 30,000 tablets and mobile digital devices.

The force completed the BCU restructuring in February 2019. This means that in some areas there has been little time for the new working practices to become established.

Prioritising demand and deploying resources daily is done centrally by a team referred to as ‘MetGrip’. There are three daily ‘pacesetter’ meetings on each BCU to deal with any identified risk, threat, intelligence or demand that can’t be managed locally. The MetGrip chief inspector scans the force for real-time incidents, or any risk or threat, and decides whether to deploy additional resources. This gives the force the ability to move its assets about where needed.

Assigning resources to demand and understanding their costs

The force has a corporate tasking process to ensure that it assigns resources according to threat and risk. This is a monthly cycle, working to the control strategy and corporate priorities. A direct example of how this works is the creation of the violent crime task force. The force established this (with MOPAC support) in response to the increase in demand around homicides and knife crime.

The force has actively monitored and evaluated benefits from each stage of the transformation implementation. Savings made from centralising and outsourcing HR services has resulted in increased levels of responsibility for line managers. We recognise that this has also increased the training needs of supervisors and required changes to be made to HR systems, all of which incur costs.

Workforce capabilities

The force doesn’t have a single skills and capability database at present: it holds this data in a variety of places. However, it has conducted a skills audit to understand any skills gaps and is using this to inform its recruitment and training. Each BCU has its own comprehensive skills profiles, which are used to assist planning at local resource planning meetings. So, while each BCU commander knows their workforce’s skills, gaps and future requirements, there is no force-wide oversight. The force relies on the fact that its complete workforce has the necessary skills.

The new model has caused some initial problems because response teams don’t have the skills and experience to meet current demand. Response officers haven’t managed investigations for many years and need training. Student officers, who start on response teams, can’t drive police vehicles because they aren’t ready for independent patrol. Such issues affect the provision of policing services. The shortage of staff has made this situation worse.

The force has recognised an urgent need to improve the skills of supervisors to oversee investigations and has created training for all staff. It has identified six skill areas for which it is developing learning packages under its new ‘Learning training’ programme.

The force also has a shortage of qualified detectives and other investigators to meet the increasing demand. It has made good progress in reducing the shortfall and has filled 90 percent of established posts. It is taking an innovative approach to recruiting new detectives via a direct entry scheme. We will watch with interest as this develops. There is a significant investigative capacity gap with qualified PIP 3 senior investigative officers and PIP 4 strategic investigators. The force recognises the need to improve PIP accreditation and maintain continuing professional development. It is hoping to achieve the required numbers over the next three years.

More efficient ways of working

The final stage of the force’s implementation of its new model occurred a month before our inspection. The changes had not yet fully embedded and it was too early for the force to have seen the benefits. But it is moving in the right direction and making progress. Its strategies are good and should be effective.

Progress would be faster if the force could make the required cultural changes. Within call handling, for example, the objective historically has been to deal with as many calls as possible within the designated timescales. This has now changed. The new objective is to provide a quality service and to resolve an incident at the earliest opportunity. However, this has yet to become standard operational practice. Staff still appear to focus on dealing with the call as quickly as possible. We identified the need for further development in many calls we reviewed. Staff were missing vulnerability and risk at first contact, were neglecting intelligence opportunities and were focusing on passing the call on with limited development. The managers we met recognised that contact centre staff are still not confident in managing risk and continue to err on the side of caution. They often consider worst case scenario, rather than likelihood of outcome. Supervisors aren’t challenging the use, or lack of use, of THRIVE+. Nor are they challenging the lack of questioning by call handlers. However, there are plans to address the problems identified.

This is an example of the need to change the culture of the organisation, alongside the structural changes the force has implemented. The force knows that this is much harder to achieve but that the results could be significant, and it will take time to achieve.

Working with others

The force works with several other organisations to learn and share best practice both nationally and internationally. The London collaboration blue light programme is a joint initiative between the Metropolitan Police Service, London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade. It is exploring opportunities to work together. This includes sharing buildings, control rooms and creating joint response units. There are pilot projects with the fire service, such as dealing with people who have collapsed behind closed doors and providing joint crime prevention advice. Such initiatives will assist the force in managing its demand.

The force has also worked with industry to tackle certain crime types. The car industry’s new keyless access systems have led to an increase in vehicle crime. The force has recognised the need to work with manufacturers more closely to influence this development and improve security. We recognise the benefits the force is seeking to achieve in preventing vehicle crime.

The force’s successful Operation Venice took a wide-ranging approach when designing its response to moped-enabled crime working closely with MOPAC, community safety partnerships, fleet management, forensic services and industry. It considered various options in its tactical response and its solution also provided realistic crime prevention advice. ‘Be Safe’, ‘Lock, Chain, Cover’ and ‘Look Up Look Out’ involve mobile phone providers, delivery companies, the motorcycle industry and local authorities. A well-developed marketing campaign supported the operation, with advertisements on buses and screens at petrol stations. The operation has been successful in reducing moped-enabled crime and changing manufacturing standards in the moped industry. The force has shared learning with other forces within the UK and internationally, including Europol.

Using technology

ICT within policing tends to fall short of that in the private sector. The Metropolitan Police Service is trying to improve the service it provides by investing in technology. Its ‘public access and first contact’ programme – with the IVR system, digital 101 reporting and TDIU – shows how the force is using technological advances to successfully manage and reduce its demand. The force is addressing the fact that it has numerous systems that don’t talk to each other. The new ‘Connect’ programme will integrate seven ICT systems. This is the force’s most ambitious ICT project to date and has been several years in design. There is a two-year implementation plan, but the force recognises that it will take longer for it to be fully functioning.

The force’s investment in technology to fight crime and increase productivity has had varied success. The provision of forensic download kiosks to assist in the extraction of information from media devices should help investigations. Data from mobile phones, in particular, is something that is becoming more relevant. However, the force hasn’t been able to train enough officers to operate the equipment, so has not yet achieved the benefits of this new technology. Body-worn video technology is highly valued by officers and has shown real successes in fighting crime and increasing productivity. The devices are easy to use and have directly increased confidence to undertake stop and search.

The force’s spending on mobile technology has also had mixed results. The force has provided its frontline officers with tablet devices to support them in mobile working. When officers encountered problems with their use, they reverted to less-efficient paper forms for some activities, such as stop and search and obtaining witness testimony. Laptops have been instrumental in making the workforce progressively more agile. Staff also report increased levels of satisfaction in the ability to do their job. The use of laptops for witness statements is variable, as is the completion of crime reports. There has been increased use of PNC checks, which can provide better outcomes to cases. This is because officers can themselves complete relevant checks on victims, witnesses and suspects, and print the required documents for case files. However, the force has not yet trained enough officers within specialist departments to use the PNC and the National Strategy for Police Information Systems, which is affecting productivity.

Summary for question 1
2

How well does the force plan for the future?

Good

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 Metropolitan Police Service tries hard to understand and predict demand. It mainly does this through the transformation portfolio. The programme covers 12 major pieces of work, each of which includes an assessment of future demand. This is based on current demand projected forward, with an element of judgment for emerging issues when these are harder to quantify or predict. It used external consultants and feedback from the public to model its future demand. This work shaped the new local policing model of 12 BCUs, and how the public contacts the police.

The force needs to understand better the demand on its response officers. Recent changes mean that these officers now investigate crime. This new demand can be significant, especially because many response officers and supervisors don’t have experience of carrying out or supervising investigations. The force recognises there is more to do to make these changes effective.

The force has positive relationships with its main partners (other emergency and public services in London). It is working with the fire and ambulance services on a joint bid to the police reform and transformation board to improve the co-ordination of emergency services across the capital. It also works closely with mental health services, local authorities, schools, marine services, probation and various charities to support victims and better co-ordinate criminal justice services. This is positive.

The force is trying to reduce unnecessary demand caused by complicated processes and bureaucracy. It does this through the consultation processes within the transformation portfolio as well as through events such as ‘5 days to change the Met’ and the development of digital capability. The force has invested in body-worn video technology (which has reduced complaints), digital photography for evidential purposes and mobile technology (which creates efficiencies through more flexible working and reduced reliance on being in police buildings).

Understanding public expectations

The force engages well with the public in a variety of ways. Formal consultation is through regular MOPAC satisfaction surveys. The force developed its Met Direction strategy using the banner of ‘What matters to Londoners?’ and this strapline is well understood in the force. Falling satisfaction levels for burglary victims, for instance, recently led to the force assigning more detectives to that area of work. Senior leaders engage with the Greater London Authority, MPs and community groups. The force uses central and local IAGs to understand what people want, such as more neighbourhood teams and schools’ officers.

The force considers the potential effect of changing technology when planning. For example, it asked the public how it wanted to contact the police and built its plans around this feedback. Its plans include voice response, online forms, telephone, digital investigation and physical response when appropriate. The force has provided body-worn video cameras to 20,000 officers. Officers now use this technology in over 90 percent of stop and search encounters.

We were pleased to see that the force looks externally for new ideas and new talent. It uses Police Now and direct entry candidates effectively, with three of the latest seven appointments of chief superintendents coming from external organisations.

Making best use of resources to meet likely future demand

Planning for the future is well co-ordinated across finance, HR, learning and development, and the transformation portfolio. All the force’s plans are aligned and work towards meeting the broad corporate objectives. Capital plans have clear links to the corporate strategies and the force plans investment in areas such as digital policing and the estate that will help it achieve its priorities. This is positive.

The force has identified future demand through its transformation portfolio, which covers almost all areas of activity. This is good. Each programme of work identifies demand, forecasts future demand and, through consultation, develops options for addressing that demand in an affordable way. Business partners staff and support the programmes of work, and there is a thorough governance process in place to scrutinise activity.

The force used external expertise to review its response and investigative demand. The new way of working reflects these results, though the change to response officers carrying an investigative workload isn’t yet fully effective. Before the force decided how its new policing model should look, it also asked the public what eight crime types mattered the most. It used this feedback to develop its new way of working.

Prioritising

The force has aligned its plans effectively, including the transformation portfolio, the financial forecast and the workforce plan. These plans meet the priorities set out in Met Direction and the ‘What matters to Londoners?’ work. The force is realigning resources to achieve savings. It is also moving resources into areas that matter to the public, including neighbourhood policing and schools’ officers, investigation and vulnerability. The force has achieved substantial savings through support services and reducing the cost of its estate. It continues to scrutinise these areas for further opportunities.

Future workforce

The Metropolitan Police Service has a comprehensive workforce plan, developed in conjunction with finance and transformation, to reflect the changing numbers and skills required of the future workforce. However, there is no single skills database that allows the force to comprehensively understand the skills and capabilities of its officers and staff. It holds data in a variety of places and, for major change projects such as the creation of BCUs, the force had to undertake a separate exercise to identify the skills of the workforce. This is a gap for the force.

The force has brought in external talent through the Police Now and direct entry schemes (including direct entry detectives), and through senior recruitment from other forces. This is good practice. It is also working with industry leaders to develop its cadet scheme and volunteer schemes.

Positive action programmes are in place to support women and people from minority groups, both at application stage and for further development once appointed. The force has also lifted the London residency requirement to attract more candidates. It has recently reviewed the recruitment process to identify any barriers in the process. A review of women in policing identified several areas where the force is seeking to improve, including keeping in touch with women on maternity leave, women-only fitness tests, flexible working and women’s health.

Finance plans

Financial planning by the Metropolitan Police Service is sound and prudent. The budget for 2019/20 is £3,381m including MOPAC. The force is keeping officer numbers at around 31,000. It is doing this by using its financial reserves, which it has built up in previous years from underspends in pay budgets. The force knows it can’t sustain this position beyond 2022/23. If there is no additional funding for policing, the force will need to reduce officer numbers at that point to approximately 26,800.

The force sets and manages budgets appropriately. It has made reasonable assumptions for council tax, inflation and pay awards, and has subjected these to internal and external scrutiny. The budget process has identified savings amounting to £95m from 2019/20 to 2022/23 across a range of headings. But the force describes a ‘cliff edge’ position by 2022/23 when it will face a further budget gap of £167m. This is partly due to the requirement to meet additional employer pension costs amounting to £104m from 2020/21 onwards. The mayor has responded by increasing council tax by 5.1 percent in 2018/19 and the same in 2019/20.

The force has a capital spending programme of £250m to £475m per year over the next four years. The main elements of this are transforming the estate, and investigation and prosecution, as well as ICT and fleet. The force is good at managing the scrutiny of business cases and funding. Its total reserves are proportionately less than in many other forces. The force expects these reserves to reduce from £154m to £43m over the next four years through spending that it has already earmarked. It holds specific reserves for designated purposes. These include supporting officer numbers and a general reserve of £46m, which is less than 2 percent of net expenditure.

Leadership and workforce development

The force would benefit from having a single database for skills and capability. This would provide a force-wide overview that would include any training needs. There is inconsistency in training provision across the force. In the absence of meaningful information, the force has identified six skill areas and is developing learning packages as follows:

  • mental health awareness;
  • investigation;
  • analysis of data;
  • coaching and influencing;
  • wellbeing and resilience; and
  • digital skills.

The force has also recognised an urgent need to improve supervisors’ skills in overseeing investigations and has developed training for all staff.

The force doesn’t have a formal succession planning process. Line managers identify talent and put plans in place to develop and nurture these officers and staff. The force uses direct entry for detective roles as well as some senior posts. It participates in the national fast track scheme and has recruited externally for some senior roles. It is also seeking to make it easier for people leaving the force to return with new skills. The force has adopted the College of Policing’s Competency and Values Framework for the first time, having previously developed their own role competencies for professional development.

With the support of MOPAC, the force has introduced its leadership development programme ‘Leading for London’. Developed following extensive research into the force’s leadership and cultural needs, the programme has used a blended learning approach to build leadership capability and support the wider transformation portfolio, covering all layers of leadership from the commissioner and management board to sergeants and police staff managers.

Ambition to improve

The force’s plans are ambitious in both their scale and pace of change. However, they are realistic and achievable. The assumptions made within these plans are subject to appropriate challenge. The force has consulted widely to discover what matters to Londoners. It is good at working with its partner organisations, especially the other emergency services. It is developing ambitious plans for these organisations to work together more effectively. The force is learning from other police and commercial organisations, and is working with academia and the College of Policing.

The force is achieving savings through joint procurement, more effective ICT systems (that link up) and substantial investment in modern technology such as body-worn video and mobile devices. The force has also recently introduced a new Oracle finance and HR platform. These ambitious changes will need careful management but will potentially provide more efficient ways of working. The force has achieved £700m of savings since the Olympics in 2012. It has identified a £95m in savings for the next four years, with a further £167m required by the end of 2022/23

Summary for question 2