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South Wales PEEL 2018

Efficiency

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

Last updated 27/09/2019
Good

South Wales Police is good at operating efficiently and sustainably.

In 2017, we judged that the force’s approach to meeting current demand and using resources was good. We have carried over our judgment from the 2017 effectiveness inspection.

The force is good at planning for the future. It has used software to inform its Operation Morse change programme and managed demand accordingly. It is still developing its understanding of hidden and emerging demand.

The force is good at prioritising its use of resources, and at flexing resources to meet demand.

The force needs to improve its future workforce planning.

The force has a comprehensive medium-term financial plan, but this plan will not ensure a balanced budget through to 2023. The force will need to focus on value for money over the next four years if it is to sustain and improve operational effectiveness.

South Wales Police has good plans in place to improve the services it gives to the public. It is implementing several significant change programmes, from neighbourhood policing to the extension of mobile technology. These are likely to result in a more responsive, visible and accessible service.

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?

Good

Areas for improvement

  • The force needs to ensure that public expectations form part of future planning.
  • The force needs to better understand the changes in workforce capacity and capability that are required to meet future demand.
  • The force needs to ensure that there are effective arrangements for leadership development and that opportunities are available to all officers and staff with leadership potential, at all levels in the organisation.

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 force is good at assessing future demand for its services. A resource and demand allocation project (RADAR) is in progress. This centres on the development of a force resource allocation model which will also identify areas of demand, using Process Evolution software. This is intended to enable the force to make evidence-based decisions on how it allocates resources to meet current and future demand.

The force has also used Process Evolution methodology to inform its Operation Morse change programme. For example, the programme has mapped the incoming demand created by calls from the public to the public services centre. With this information, the force has managed demand by changing shift patterns and making arrangements to increase the number of occasions on which calls and enquiries are resolved at first contact, without any need for follow-up contacts.

South Wales Police is reviewing all aspects of neighbourhood policing, including structures and delivery. The purpose of this initiative is to develop a consistent approach to both community engagement and the response to vulnerability. At the time of our inspection fieldwork, this review was ongoing.

The force has made some forecasts of the likely future demand for its services. It has used statistical trends and strategic assessment information, including MoRiLE and the completion of its force management statement, to inform its decisions about strategic resourcing. For example, the force has made sure that the ability to carry out investigations has been maintained in anticipation of an increase in violence, stalking, cybercrime and serious sexual offences. And the investment in the mental health triage facility was based on an increase in the frequency of mental health-related demand.

South Wales Police uses information and communications technology (ICT) in an effective way, to understand trends in demand. For example, it has a neighbourhood policing app on officers’ mobile devices to capture their activity. This, in turn, informs the RADAR project. A further example is the force’s predictive sickness analysis tool, developed in collaboration with Gwent Police, to develop an understanding of trends in workforce absence.

The force uses data from partner agencies to understand demand. As a result, it has assessed mental health demand on certain days, together with analysis of health and ambulance information.

The force is still developing its understanding of hidden and emerging demand. It uses MoRiLE assessment methodology to regularly monitor the risk posed by county lines criminality, and to prioritise responses. Hospital accident and emergency departments share data with the force on hidden crimes (that is, unreported crime). The force recognises emerging threats from digital crime, as indicated by its investment in cyber kiosks. The kiosks are located across BCUs.

South Wales Police has been active in maximising the opportunities for better use of new ICT equipment in policing. In collaboration with Gwent Police, it has established a joint digital services division to collaboratively progress innovations. This includes giving new mobile technology to officers and staff. The ‘Fixed, Flexible, Field 2’ project, now called the Agility and Digital project, aims to give officers and staff in both forces a selection of new devices designed to increase their productivity, efficiency and public visibility.

Understanding public expectations

The force still needs to do more to understand public expectations. It does have ways of communicating with the public; they include the traditional methods of neighbourhood officer contact, as well as social media. But more needs to be done to integrate this information into its plans.

At the end of 2018, the force completed its communication, engagement and consultation strategy. After this, it carried out the first formal consultation exercise. Themes that were important to the public included drugs, county lines and more investment in technology. The force will use the results of this consultation to understand how public expectations are changing, and to inform future demand work and planning.

Prioritising

South Wales Police is good at prioritising its use of resources. It can show how resource investments reflect force priorities, and how these priorities have shifted over time.

The force has invested significantly to address vulnerability. It can also show how resources have been moved from criminal justice to other areas of greater priority, as part of its budget planning. Evidence of the force responding to immediate priorities, such as knife and drug crime in Cardiff, is apparent.

The force can show its ability to flex resources to meet demand. It has a strategic board that monitors workforce capability against this information. The force plans to develop the ‘flight deck’ information system so that it can provide real-time information on demand and resources. This is expected to help chief officers to manage demand more effectively in the future.

The police and crime plan reflects the police and crime commissioner (PCC)’s priorities, and informs the chief constable’s delivery plan for the period to 2021. But it does not currently reflect the outcomes of the recent public consultation exercise. The force intends to use this information to inform future priorities.

Future workforce

The force is still developing its prospective workforce needs. This is an area that needs to be improved. It is carrying out a programme of workforce development activity, under the governance of the People and Organisational Development Strategy. This activity aims to meet the changing demand and skills requirement of the force’s future workforce in a sustainable way, so that the workforce has sufficient skills to be effective in the future. The project is divided into six areas:

  • skills profile and assessment;
  • resource planning;
  • leadership and competency development;
  • performance and talent management;
  • engagement and recognition; and
  • safety, health and wellbeing.

The force has some understanding of the changes it needs to make in workforce capacity and capability in order to meet future demand. It has used predictive modelling to identify resource and skill changes to inform succession planning, as well as recruitment and training activity. The force conducts succession planning activity a year in advance. It also publishes promotion processes a year in advance.

The force does not have a formal skills gap analysis. This means that it has no consistent understanding of what it will need from its workforce in the future. It is aware that this analysis needs to be done and plans to carry out a skills audit as part of the People and Organisational Development change project.

Finance plans

South Wales Police has a mature and comprehensive medium-term financial plan. This extends to 2023. Its assumptions are both clearly set out and consistent with other forces. There is appropriate challenge through PCC and police and crime panel scrutiny. As for all forces, the government’s 2019 spending review represents uncertainty. South Wales Police has raised a challenge over shortcomings in the grant distribution formula. It has a good track record of delivering savings to meet budget requirements and has identified the necessary savings plans for 2019/20. While the force has confidence in its ability to make these savings, finances will remain challenging for the foreseeable future.

Beyond 2019/20, savings will be more difficult to achieve, and the current medium-term financial plan is not enough to produce a balanced budget throughout the period to 2023. The plan shows a residual budget gap of £6m for the revenue account, with increased borrowing and a residual capital shortfall of £42m to address the ten-year estate strategy. The force will need to keep focusing on value for money over the next four years if it is to sustain and improve operational effectiveness.

The force has a reserves strategy. The general reserve has reached its target level, and assigned reserves are £3.9m. The adequacy of both the general reserve and specific reserves is under constant review. The PCC intends to review the strategic requirements of the estate, plus its financing, in the coming year.

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 sufficient time to include the effect of this in 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.

South Wales Police has a funding gap of £440,000 in 2019/20. It will meet this shortfall by using a contribution from core funding and reserves, and not from council tax precept. The force has assumed that it will receive further pension grants to meet its additional pension costs in future years. But this is not yet certain.

Leadership and workforce development

The force needs to continue to improve leadership and workforce development. The force is reviewing its leadership needs as part of the wider People and Organisational Development project. This project aims to improve the force’s understanding of leadership and skills and identify opportunities to improve talent management and workforce representation. There are no clearly defined career pathways. The force does not routinely include career ambition conversations in workforce development plans.

The force has some succession plans in place for its senior leaders. The force’s leadership development project is working to carry out skills analysis. This will both identify and support future senior leaders and identify necessary training to make sure the force has suitably skilled officers to meet any future resource gaps. (By way of example, the force made its most recent senior officer postings after considering priorities to make sure it has the right officers in key roles.)

The force is open to external recruitment. It offers the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship process and plans to recruit external candidates for police officer and police staff roles. The force is recruiting a cohort of Police Now entrants in 2019, as well as transferees from other police forces. It is also developing an apprenticeship scheme.

Ambition to improve

South Wales Police has good plans in place to improve the services it gives to the public.

The force is responding to the demands it faces and is implementing several significant change programmes – from neighbourhood policing to the extension of mobile technology. These are likely to result in a more responsive, visible and accessible service, with the force having a firmer understanding of the demand that it, and its partner agencies, will face in the future.

The force links plans to its own demand analysis and welcomes scrutiny of them.

The force’s change programmes have clearly defined evaluation processes; several projects are subject to external review and scrutiny. The force recognises that it could do more to improve its understanding of the benefits it will gain from the changes that it will make. It has therefore invested in a benefits realisation officer to work within the digital services division. The force also plans to establish an additional post within the change programme business area.

South Wales Police is closely involved in both local and All Wales collaborative activity. It can define the clear benefits that it has derived because of this involvement. It has been innovative in establishing a tri-service analyst function; this will bring together information and intelligence across the ‘blue light’ services to better understand demand. This function has real potential to strengthen the delivery of public services. The force has an appetite to work across all public sector agencies in Wales.

South Wales Police works with partner agencies to better manage local demand. One such example is the mental health clinician provision within the public services centre, which is in the early stage of a pilot project intended to reduce demand.

Summary for question 2