Northumbria PEEL 2018
How efficiently does the force operate and how sustainable are its services to the public?
Northumbria Police requires improvement so that it operates efficiently and its services are sustainable.
The force needs to improve its understanding of demand for its services, including hidden demand. This should help it to make best use of its resources to meet the needs of the public. Its new operating model and command and control system should help address these problems. The force will need to manage the move to these new ways of working carefully.
The force also needs to do more to understand what the public wants from its police force and how it may wish to interact with the force in the future.
The force requires improvement in the way it plans for the future. It works well with other organisations to meet demand but doesn’t do enough to analyse data from these partners.
Northumbria Police should audit the skills of its workforce, including leadership skills. This would help the force to understand capacity and capability, and to improve its understanding of the workforce skills needed for the future.
How well does the force use its resources to meet the demand it faces?
The force knows that its current operating model isn’t effectively meeting an increased demand for its services. Some cases involving vulnerable victims aren’t being handled with enough urgency, and there is a backlog in digital forensics. The force recognised that it didn’t have enough trained investigators, and that this had a negative effect on the quality of investigations and on outcomes, particularly in the areas of domestic abuse and rape. But in the last 18 months it has recruited 85 percent of the additional investigators it needs, and it has plans in place to address the remaining capacity gap.
The force’s understanding of demand is limited by its IT system, which isn’t fit for purpose. It has done some basic analysis of demand – for example, how busy periods match the number of staff available. However, it needs to think more carefully about hidden demand. It also needs to do more to understand what the public wants from its police force.
To address these problems, the force is introducing a new operating model and is modernising its IT infrastructure. This was due to launch in May 2019, but has since been delayed. It is also changing its command and control system. It will need to manage the transition of these two new ways of working carefully.
The force works well with other organisations to meet demand. However, it hasn’t done enough to analyse data from partners. It hasn’t fully assessed, for example, how reductions in social care resources might influence police work. As a result, it doesn’t have a firm evidence base for its ambitious change plans.
The force hasn’t done a skills audit and lacks a thorough understanding of its workforce’s skills and capabilities.
Areas for improvement
- The force should undertake further work to gain a better understanding of current demand for its services, including hidden demand. This is so that it can make best use of its resources to meet the needs of the public.
- The force should conduct a workforce skills audit that will allow it to understand workforce capacity and capability.
- The force should ensure that its resource allocation allows it to respond appropriately to urgent calls for service particularly for incidents concerning vulnerable persons.
- The force should make sure it is fully aware of officer and staff workload when allocating and deploying resource.
- The force should make sure that its understanding of the demand for its services demonstrates an awareness of the impact that partner agencies have on its demand; it should have a system in place to make sure that this impact is managed; and it should have a way of making sure that the force shares sufficient data to take the necessary steps to meet current and likely future demand.
Detailed findings for question 1
How well does the force plan for the future?
Northumbria Police needs to improve its planning. Its ability to assess current and future demand for its services could improve. It needs to do more work to fully understand the demand picture in Northumberland and Tyne and Wear, including making use of partnership information and data.
The force’s crime management system isn’t designed to identify, record or extract data on the range of current threats. This means that projected hidden and newly emerging crimes, such as threats posed by changing technology, aren’t understood.
The force’s current operating model is being reviewed because resources and demand are not aligned. The capacity and capability of frontline officers should be aligned to demand so that the force is able to respond within target times to calls for service from the public. Limited career pathways and succession planning are in place and the force needs to improve its understanding of the skills of the workforce needed for the future.
The force’s financial plans are based on sound planning assumptions. Much change is planned within the force over the next two years, including the implementation of a new operating model and two major IT systems. The force will need to manage these complex changes very carefully. It has not consulted with the public about this change, so it doesn’t fully understand how public expectations are changing and how the public may wish to interact with the force in the future.
Areas for improvement
- The force should carry out more work to make sure its assumptions in relation to future demand are based on sound evidence and analysis so that resources can be best allocated.
- To enable the force to effectively manage current and future demand it should ensure that its ICT planning is closely aligned with its future plans and wider change programme arrangements.
- The force should ensure its strategic plans are aligned with financial planning and that the force’s medium-term planning is sustainable to provide financial security and investment in service improvement.
- The force should conduct a leadership skills audit that will allow it to understand leadership capacity and capability.