Norfolk PEEL 2018
How efficiently does the force operate and how sustainable are its services to the public?
Norfolk Constabulary operates efficiently and is making excellent plans for the future.
The force is outstanding at meeting current demands and using resources.
Norfolk Constabulary is outstanding at planning for the future. The force understands what demands it will have to meet. It constantly works to better understand what the public expects from it. The force balances community expectations with national priorities. It has plans to acquire the capabilities and capacity it considers it will need in future.
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, Norfolk Constabulary had an area for improvement in the 2017 efficiency inspection.
Areas for improvement
- The force should undertake appropriate activities to understand fully 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.
We found during fieldwork that the force has evaluated its workforce capacity and capability and put in place recruitment and training plans to meet future needs. We are satisfied, therefore, that this area for improvement has been dealt with appropriately.
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
Norfolk Constabulary comprehensively assesses future demand and its effect on service provision. It uses historical trend data and comparisons with other forces to understand and identify potential changes in future demand. Assumptions and risks in projections are subject to internal challenge and peer review by Suffolk Constabulary. The force has embraced the concept of force management statements. It has created a detailed document with clear scales for comparing forecasted demand to capacity and capability throughout the service over the next four years. The force closely integrates the outcomes of demand analysis work and the force management statement into its future planning through its outcome-based budgeting process.
The force has a range of innovative projects in place using technology to provide a better service. It has invested substantially in automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) as a tool to tackle priority offenders and organised criminality through its Operation Moonshot teams. The force presented this work at the 2018 national ANPR conference as best practice. A randomised control trial using software to identify and review solvability factors in burglary offences has been carried out. The force also uses E-bit solvability software for a small number of low-harm volume crime offences, such as criminal damage. At the time of the inspection, this was still being formally evaluated. However, it is clear that senior leaders believe victims of crime should continue to receive some form of interaction with a member of the workforce in the investigative process; the force should not rely solely on technological solutions.
All frontline officers have received body-worn video cameras and mobile devices. During fieldwork, we found that some investigative and safeguarding teams also had access to them. The force is exploring the potential to expand provision of body-worn video cameras. It dedicates a significant amount of its information communications technology (ICT) resource to internal projects in comparison to regional and national work; this may put pressures on capacity if the timetable for achieving the projects changes. The joint strategic planning and monitoring group with Suffolk Constabulary oversees this matter; we found that it is aware of the effect of national ICT project requirements, such as digital asset and evidence management systems.
The force has taken positive steps to identify emerging and hidden demand. It anticipates an increase in demand from vulnerable people. This is due to an ageing population, the infiltration of county lines drugs networks and the effect of pressures on partner agencies, such as the mental health trust and probation. It can also quantify emerging demand. For example, the 2018 force management statement predicts an increase of more than 30 percent in cyber-bullying, harassment and stalking incidents over the next four years.
Understanding public expectations
The force has a good understanding of public expectations of the service. Each of the county’s seven districts has a community engagement officer who makes active use of social media to gather public views. We found the force’s communications department working on ways to better target different sections of the community with its use of social media. The department is consulting young people on this topic. Community surgeries have been set up to maintain local links with the public in stations that were closed under the changes made to the neighbourhood policing model. Beat managers attend a range of local events with the support of the centralised community safety unit to get a representative understanding of public opinions. The police and crime commissioner (PCC) and chief constable also hold joint question and answer sessions throughout the county. Here, members of the public can make their views known.
The force’s joint ICT strategy with Suffolk Constabulary acknowledges that public needs must drive any developments in ‘channel shift’ – providing and directing the public towards increased online engagement with the service. The force has redesigned its website to make it easier for people to access information and report incidents online. We found that the force is in the early stages of considering how to further enhance its digital engagement with the public. These include new opportunities for the public to use web chat and track crime online.
Norfolk Constabulary understands its priorities clearly. It seeks to achieve a balance between issues like domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation and local community concerns, like rural crime and anti-social behaviour. Current and future priorities are suitably aligned to the police and crime plan. The force is making large-scale changes to the service it provides by putting into practice the Norfolk 2020 review. This review considers future demand, financial and resourcing pressures and changing public expectations. It looks beyond the force’s immediate needs to ensure the service remains sustainable, by making changes to its estate strategy, for example. The force has analysed a wide variety of data to base these plans on and consulted with its workforce, the public and partner organisations.
The force has made significant changes already to its available resources to meet future demand, by removing all PCSO posts and increasing police officer roles within neighbourhood policing. The force believes this will create a more flexible workforce, using the most appropriate powers, which can adapt to changes in demand while still maintaining effective community engagement. At the time of the inspection it was too early to fully understand the effect of the changes to the workforce mix within the neighbourhood teams on the service provided to the public. We will continue to monitor this as part of our IPA inspection approach.
The force has evaluated its workforce capacity and capability and put in place recruitment and training plans to meet future needs. All career and developmental opportunities are communicated openly to the workforce through the force intranet. The force has designed a succession planning evaluation and development process and has tested it at a senior level. This is now being introduced throughout the force. The force reviews the results of these evaluations regularly, so that it can adapt its plans to any changes that arise. One example we found during fieldwork is a regular review of workforce requirements against demand, to support the force’s plans to move to two investigative hubs. This has resulted in the force adapting its training plans to increase the number of specialist child abuse investigators. The force has recently agreed continued funding for an extra 22 posts within learning and development, to ensure these plans are achieved effectively and on time.
The force recognises that it needs to increase the diversity of its workforce. It offers insight courses for applicants from under-represented groups. It is also undertaking a gap analysis against the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s diversity, equality and inclusion strategy. The force takes part in the direct entry scheme for inspectors and advertises all posts externally to enhance its range of skills and experience. It offers an internal detective and investigator career pathway scheme (PIP2), which is open to both officers and staff. We found the force pursuing several innovative approaches to improve the workforce’s capabilities. They include recruiting extra staff who it can call on to guard scenes of crime. This should enable it to release police officers from this role who can then be used more effectively elsewhere, in line with their training and powers. It is developing proposals with the University of East Anglia to enable students on the cyber-security master’s degree programme to work with the force. This should supply the force with skills that are new and in demand, in an area of growth for the force.
Following its 2010 consultation about revaluing public-sector pensions, the government announced, in 2016 and 2018, reductions in the discount rate it uses to set contribution rates for the unfunded public service pension schemes. These include the police service pension scheme. A lower discount rate will result in higher contribution rates for the employer. The official notification of a lower rate in September 2018 did not allow PCCs time to include the effect of this on their financial planning. In December 2018, the government announced a pension grant for 2019/20 for each PCC. It allocated funding to each force to specifically help the police pay for these increased costs in the next year. PCCs must now plan for how they will finance the increased costs in the following years, assessing the effect on their officer numbers and their ability to provide effective and efficient services.
Norfolk Constabulary’s financial plans are realistic, are built on sound assumptions, and receive suitable challenge from experts. The force models different potential funding scenarios and considers their likely effect when drawing up its spending plans. It aligns its financial planning to its change and workforce capacity and capability plans through its outcome-based budgeting process.
The medium-term financial plan requires the force to make further savings of £4.6m by 2021/22. This is in addition to the £4.6m already identified. The force is carrying out detailed work to enable it to achieve the extra savings towards the latter years of the current medium-term financial plan. Changes to the force’s policing model aim to achieve £4m of the identified savings; the rest is to come from more collaboration with Suffolk Constabulary and from further reviews to the change programme. The force is part of a seven-force strategic collaboration programme with Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Suffolk police forces. This collaboration is examining ways to converge processes to achieve efficiencies. However, we found that at this stage the force is unable to project detailed financial savings from this work. The force is finding ways to generate more income by providing training to other organisations and reviewing its grants and sponsorship procedures. It is also developing its process to obtain funding from the community infrastructure levy and section 106 agreements. These processes enable the force to apply for funding from land developers where there is likely to be an increased demand for policing. Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies jointly employ a business liaison manager who works alongside chartered surveyors to increase opportunities to obtain developer contributions. This includes funding for general policing services as well as specific items, such as the provision of ANPR cameras. The force reviews the local authority’s infrastructure delivery plans to forecast what developments are likely to affect policing. It then submits an evidence-based case for funding during the planning consultation stage. This helps the force to secure extra funding. This will be needed as demand increases, because of the development of housing and other sites throughout the county in future.
Overall reserves are expected to fall from £15.6m in March 2018 to £10m by March 2022. This matter will be reviewed each year. Reserves earmarked for spending are allocated to specific matters, such as the ‘invest to save’ reserve for schemes that will result in efficiencies, rather than just meeting current cost pressures and demand requirements. The force plans to maintain its general reserves at £4.5 m throughout the current medium-term financial plan to ensure that it has enough money to meet unforeseen costs.
Leadership and workforce development
Norfolk Constabulary has a leadership and talent management strategy. The human resources and learning and development teams, run jointly with Suffolk Constabulary, oversee it. A workforce and succession planning process takes place in all departments to identify any gaps in meeting future demand. Plans are then drawn up to address these gaps. A new performance development review (PDR) process was introduced in April 2018 for officers and staff. At the time of our fieldwork this was still being implemented throughout the force. Part of this process requires line managers to discuss and document any developmental needs or aspirations with their officers and staff. The information is used to inform the force’s development and training plans. Talent identification is included within the PDR through the completion of a ‘9-box grid’. A pilot of a ‘career conversations’ process was recently carried out for chief inspectors and above to inform leadership succession planning. The intention now is to use it for all ranks and roles. This should allow the force to identify leaders within the organisation and effectively meet its future workforce needs.
The force has a development programme that the whole workforce can access, known as ‘The Best I Can Be’. A leadership programme for newly promoted sergeants, inspectors and police staff equivalents contains modules on team leadership and performance coaching. Developmental opportunities are advertised internally, to improve equality of opportunity and allow anyone in the workforce to apply. A detective and investigator career pathway programme is open to officers and staff who wish to specialise in investigations. The force also funds two places a year on an evidence-based policing master’s degree programme. This is open to all. A structured framework and process for leaders to improve their skills, competencies and knowledge through both formal and informal learning methods is being developed.
Ambition to improve
Norfolk Constabulary is extremely ambitious in its desire to make major improvements to its service to the public and be at the forefront of innovative practice. It has already made significant changes to its neighbourhood policing model and has been the first force in England and Wales to remove all PCSO posts. We will keep this under review, to determine the longer-term effect.
The force is making progress on developing two investigative hubs. These will become operational in 2021. They will bring together investigative resources alongside specialist digital analysts to investigate crimes more efficiently and effectively and provide a better service to victims. This project requires significant investment and changes to both estate provision and the workforce mix. The comprehensive plans in place have clear links to both financial and resource planning requirements and processes. These plans undergo internal scrutiny, formal auditing, and challenge through the PCC’s police accountability forum public meeting. The force has an improvement and evaluation team with links to local academic institutions. The change team has used executive members of Norfolk County Council as ‘critical friends’ to provide further challenge and scrutiny. We found that senior leaders clearly recognise that any changes made to the force’s funding may affect the achievement of these plans; an evidence-based business case is in place that can take into account changes in the scale of the plans if this is needed.
Well-established collaborative arrangements with Suffolk Constabulary continue to produce considerable savings. They are projected to achieve a further £2m of savings within the 2018/19 financial year. As part of the seven-force strategic collaboration programme, the force is examining ways to achieve efficiencies in processes and services that will save money. Collaboration with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service continues to grow. Alongside the current co-location of operational staff and officers, work is going ahead to relocate fire and rescue control room staff into police headquarters. This should help both organisations improve their service to the public. Senior leaders are aware of the potential for far wider collaborative arrangements with other organisations. The force is in the early stages of exploring such arrangements further.
The force uses technology well to provide a more effective service. The ICT strategy is clearly linked to the force’s future delivery model. Once this model is operating, it should increase the force’s regional and national ICT interoperability. A new telephony system enables the control room to prioritise 101 calls based on harm and risk. It also offers an early opportunity to divert callers, by providing recorded information about online reporting and advice on other agencies and the services they offer. This allows the force to concentrate more on vulnerable callers most in need of policing services. The force is trying out the use of solvability software, and this is being reviewed. Significant investment in ANPR technology is proving useful in targeting offenders and in dealing with the organised crime threat from the growth of county lines networks.Summary for question 2