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Staffordshire PEEL 2018

Efficiency

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

Last updated 21/01/2020
Good

Staffordshire Police operates efficiently, and its services are sustainable.

The force is good at working out what demand for its services might be in the future and uses both police and partner agency data for this.

It has enough skilled and experienced people and the financial resources to meet current and future demand.

The force has invested in the skills and equipment it needs to protect the public from cyber crime. It has invested in IT.

Frontline officers and staff use mobile working. Officers and staff like the technology and say that it is efficient.

The force’s medium-term financial plan has a good balance between savings and investment in important areas such as neighbourhood policing, public protection, estates and new technology.

It has identified savings which will balance the 2018-19 budget without using its reserves.

The force’s future plans are realistic. It understands how increased demand can affect an organisation.

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.However, there was one area for improvement identified from this inspection.

  • The force should ensure it has sufficient resources available in the control room to fulfil its resourcing model, and so meet its demand, while also considering its workforce’s wellbeing.

As part of our fieldwork, we reviewed the progress made by the force in this area.

The force made changes to address this during 2018. Capacity to answer calls during peak times has improved. During our visit to the force control room, calls were answered efficiently. To ensure that the control room maintains call handling performance at times of peak demand, multi-skilled staff move flexibly between different roles.

The force continually reviews future resourcing requirements as part of the change programme. It predicts it will make the savings required in 2019/20 through managing vacancies and reducing the number of Airwave talkgroups, a communication service used by the emergency services, operating across the force’s response and neighbourhood teams.

The force predicts a further 23 percent of contact will move to digital channels through social media and introducing the national single online home platform. This platform will provide ways for the public to contact the force and report non-emergency incidents online.

2

How well does the force plan for the future?

Good

Assessing future demand for services

Staffordshire Police is effective at assessing future demand for its services. Current work on future demand is informed by both police data and information from other organisations. The force uses the Management of Risk in Law Enforcement model effectively to identify strategic priorities and the threats most likely to affect communities. This helps it understand future demand and assess any gaps in its ability to respond.

The force has conducted research and analysis of five years of data to predict future demand. This is now reflected in the priorities of its policing plan and five strategic objectives. It has taken positive steps to identify emerging and hidden demand.

The force anticipates more demand from vulnerable people. This is due to a rise in reports of domestic abuse, county lines drugs networks and growth in cyber-related crime. To address this, the force has invested in a range of early intervention initiatives such has harm reduction hubs. It has also restructured and recruited to its investigation teams to ensure it has the capacity and skills to meet this growing demand. 

The force uses ‘profiler methodology’ to design its operating model. This is software that allows it to plan services according to its demand. The force regularly repeats the methodology to test demand against the operating model and evaluate its effectiveness and efficiency.

This also helps it identify where demand is changing. The force reviews resource levels against this information and changes it according to the results. We saw examples of the force using benchmarking data to work out whether the level of resources for each service area was appropriate.

For example, from its analysis of future demand, the force identified it needed greater investigative capacity. When it changed its operating model, it took the opportunity to increase the number of officers in the investigations teams and create a specialist child protection and exploitation team.

The force has considered the impact of technology and its potential to drive efficiencies and increase the effectiveness of its workforce. It has an ambitious digitisation plan supported by a realistic ICT strategy. The force ICT lead is a member of each of the directorate boards.

This ensures it doesn’t miss an opportunity to consider the potential benefits of digitisation. Frontline officers and staff who use mobile technology speak positively about the quality of equipment supplied by the force. Staff see this as a major contributor to efficient working. Frontline officers are equipped with, and regularly use, BWV to capture evidence at incidents.

Understanding public expectations

The force has a good understanding of public expectations and has engaged and consulted communities to understand how their expectations are changing.

It sees consultation as an ongoing process between the force and the public. The force is committed to finding out local people’s experiences and opinions. Examples include a digital 101 survey which established 35 percent of callers to the 101 number would have used self-service had it been available. The force’s resolution centre also ran an engagement exercise that found some victims don’t want an officer to visit them when reporting non-violent, low impact crimes. When appropriate, call handlers now ask callers in this situation if they want a visit.

The force monitors Twitter and Facebook for views and feedback on its activities. It has ambitious communication plans shaped to reflect the changing use of the internet and social media.

For example, the communications and engagement team is working with the control room to develop streamlined digital contact through online forms. Staffordshire Police predicts that 23 percent of current calls will move to digital and social media channels. This will happen when the national single online home platform allows people to contact the force and report non-emergency incidents online. 

Neighbourhood policing teams focus a lot of their daily activity on public engagement activities. Officers and staff attend community events to encourage people who may have concerns or lack trust in the police, to share their views. The force has introduced engagement panels in each local policing area to give a platform where community representatives can share views and discuss expectations.

Some PCSOs have received engagement training. Those working in neighbourhood and community harm reduction hubs encourage partner organisations to raise concerns on behalf of the community.

The force receives feedback from service users through a variety of partner organisations. It uses this information to review and adjust the services it provides, like the domestic abuse perpetrator programme featured earlier in our report.

The force’s planning process is linked with the Staffordshire Commissioner’s. There is an increasing focus on engaging with the community. The Staffordshire Commissioner has established an outside ethics, transparency and audit panel (ETAP) which includes community representatives. The panel examines and scrutinises service provision. Also, quarterly performance events, led by the Staffordshire Commissioner and attended by the chief constable, are held via webcast to engage directly with the community.

Prioritising

The force manages many competing priorities effectively. Its priorities are informed by its understanding of both future demand and changing public expectations.

The priorities in the police and crime plan for 2018-21 are consistent with recent structural changes the force has made. It has connected policing to local public and partner needs and reduced demand at source.

For example, the force has invested £1.9m to improve the capacity and capability of the missing persons investigations team, roads policing unit and disruptions team, which aims to crack down on criminal activity across Staffordshire such as serious and violent crime. It has also improved analysis, digital investigation and cyber capability.

The strategic planning cycle is governed by the executive team with outside scrutiny from both the Staffordshire Commissioner’s Office and ETAP. This allows a regular refresh of data and knowledge. All relevant directorate leads are involved in developing the policing plan. Financial and workforce plans are linked accordingly. We saw evidence of co-ordination between finance, human resources and those responsible for leading change to develop the force.

The force uses a continuous improvement approach. Where it sees demand changing, it focuses on what can be done differently to effectively meet that demand.

For example, the force’s domestic abuse working group has reviewed how it provides services to victims. The force is also looking at how it is working with Northumbria Police to adopt the multi-agency tasking and co-ordination (MATAC) principles into its new MARAC process. Good governance structures exist to co-ordinate all change projects. There is a clear link between public consultation, planning and allocating resource.

Future workforce

The force’s workforce planning is robust. Detailed monitoring ensures that the right people with the right skills are in the right place at the right time. The force’s ‘people first’ strategy focuses on modernising the workforce and creating a learning culture.

The force has worked hard to predict the skills and capabilities it needs now and in the future. It is well placed in terms of resilience, capability and capacity to identify existing demand and prepare for future challenges.

The force identifies essential skills for every post in the organisation. It puts in place comprehensive training to maintain the skills needed. The training plan is appropriately resourced and is connected to the workforce plan and budget.

The force has a good understanding of where gaps in skills and experience will happen in the future. Succession planning is part of the people strategy. A monthly workforce planning meeting provides oversight and co-ordination of vacancies and promotion requirements as part of the broader corporate planning process.

Where skills shortages are identified, the force takes action to understand and address the gap. For example, the force reviewed investigation and digital capability to understand the skills needed by officers and staff working on investigation teams. This involved an in-depth review of crime data and changing complexity in investigations. As a result, the force offered development and mentoring opportunities to encourage officers and staff to get the right skills for the future.

The force is responding to the growing impact of cyber and digital crime on its communities.

Its demand analysis predicts growth in the number of victims of digital crime, and it has invested in the skills it needs to protect the public from harm. There are several digital investigation development programmes under the governance of the deputy chief constable’s digital policing board.

For example, the force has outside funding to increase its capability and capacity for cyber-related crime. The money has funded specialist training for four staff and specialist equipment to enable an effective response to incidents.

The force supports Fast Track and Police Now candidates. It has made considerable efforts to improve the diversity of the workforce through outside recruitment. It doesn’t use direct entry for inspector and superintendent ranks, although it has considered doing so. The force has developed a diversity and difference delivery plan including the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) diversity toolkit.

The force uses social media to encourage applications from under-represented communities. These messages include positive statements about the force’s recruitment policies and encouragement to apply for jobs. It has also assigned a PCSO in Burton upon Trent to work with local communities and promote policing as
a career.

Finance plans

Financial plans are built on realistic, sound assumptions of future funding levels, inflation and council tax as agreed with the Staffordshire Commissioner. The force has also considered the possible impact of changes to the national funding formula. It has presented a range of options to meet a reduced budget if necessary. The financial plans are linked to planning priorities, demand analysis and workforce and training plans.

The force has benefited from recent increases in council tax which has allowed it to stabilise finances and invest in change programmes. Together with planned efficiency savings, this has enabled the chief constable to invest in areas such as crime prevention and investigations.

The force’s medium-term financial plan strikes a good balance between required savings and investment in priority areas. These include neighbourhood policing, public protection, estates and ICT reform. The force’s proven savings record since the beginning of austerity brings certainty to its financial position. There is a clear link between the Staffordshire Commissioner’s plan, the force’s medium-term financial plan and workforce planning.

The force continues to develop better understanding of where it needs to improve workforce capabilities to meet future demand. It meets savings requirements through improvements to working practices and internal efficiencies.

The force’s monthly business change meeting and a bi-monthly transformation board oversee the force’s business change programme. This has 59 initiatives to improve services and make savings – potentially creating a saving of £5.7m during 2019/20.

In the past, the force has used its reserves to fund transformation. These reserves now need to be topped up. The force has transferred £1.3m into its reserves, bringing them up to 3 percent of the budget at the start of the current financial year.

It predicts general reserves are around £6m or 2 percent of the force budget. Total reserves of £9m are held at the beginning of 2019-20. These include specific reserves for transformation of around £2m. The force expects total reserves to stay at around that level.

The capital programme totals £23.2m in 2019-20, £6.9m in 2020-21 and £4.3m in 2021-22. ICT investment is the largest part of the capital programme: £16m in 2019-20 and a further £5.7m in 2021-22.

In 2016 and 2018, the government announced it would reduce the discount rate it uses to set contribution rates for unfunded public service pension schemes. These include the police’s pension scheme.

A lower discount rate will mean employers pay more into pensions. The official notification in September 2018 didn’t give police and crime commissioners (PCCs) enough time to include 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 how they will finance the increased costs in the future. They need to assess the effect on officer numbers and their ability to provide effective and efficient services.

Leadership and workforce development

The force’s leadership development underpins its strategic approach to build public trust and confidence in policing. The force identifies leaders in each part of its ‘people first’ strategy which explains how it develops its workforce.

The force wants to be a modern and transformed police service able to address both existing and future demand. The force has good processes in place to identify talent, develop its workforce and reinforce the attitudes and behaviours expected by the public.

The force’s leadership and management development programme, aSPire, is open to existing and aspiring managers. It aims to build confidence and give officers and staff the skills they need to make rational judgments and decisions. The learning and development team, along with internal and outside specialists, provide facilitated learning sessions and workshops to improve the workforce’s skills.

Workforce planning is well developed and accepted in the organisation. The force effectively plans for future workforce requirements in a methodical way to develop the skills of officers and staff.

The force recognises that developing people and keeping their skills is important. It has a good plan that focuses on supportive leadership and wellbeing. The aSPire leadership development programme includes a series of interactive sessions and workshops, leadership reflections (external inspirational and motivational speakers), CPD events and specific development courses.

Anyone can nominate themselves for a work-based assessment to ensure they are suitable to participate in the leadership programme and identify development needs. The officers and staff we spoke with explained they have opportunities to work with other teams to learn about different roles and develop new skills.

Ambition to improve

The force has a clear vision and ambition for the future, alongside a comprehensive understanding of current and future demand. The force’s medium-term financial and workforce plans are based on credible and sensible assumptions. This includes a summary of expected funding and using reserves.

It is linked to budgeted posts for police officers, staff and PSCOs. Following changes to the force’s operating model in July 2018, it has developed a culture of continuous improvement. It regularly looks to both the public and private sector for innovation and new approaches to improve efficiency. Its medium-term financial plans include initiatives across its directorates.

For example, creating a knowledge hub to help staff share data and intelligence with partner organisations, and introducing a single online platform for enquiries.

All projects and change programmes include realising benefits. These benefits are tracked and monitored at the monthly business change meeting and bi-monthly transformation board, chaired by the deputy chief constable.

The force uses its knowledge hub to evaluate and carry out early testing of change programmes, and to identify learning. It has made great efforts to understand what the workforce needs to be digitally competent and capable. The force sees ICT as an enabler with the potential to transform the way it works.

The force has invested in a replacement for its records management system: NICHE RMS. This replaces 12 existing systems to create a single platform to improve data collection and analysis. Staff have been trained and data is ready to transfer to the new system.

Staffordshire Police is committed to seeking and responding to ideas, innovation and different ways of working to reduce demand and improve its services.

Examples include the pilot of the telephone-based first response to domestic abuse, described earlier in this report. Plus the £220,000 from business rates giving the force more resources to tackle business crime in 2019/20.

The force is constantly looking for opportunities to collaborate with local public sector organisations and the private and voluntary sectors to increase its efficiency and reduce demand at source. Examples include a mental health triage service, multi-agency harm hubs and the MASH – all of which are covered in this report.

The force collaborates with other forces in the region on counter-terrorism and to tackle the threat from organised crime. It shares licensing procedures with West Midlands Police to issue certificates to people who hold authorised firearms and shotguns. The force is also part of the central motorway police group which jointly polices motorways in the region.

The force is collaborating with Staffordshire University, and West Mercia and Warwickshire police forces to implement the new, professional framework for the training of police officers and staff (Policing Education Qualifications Framework).

The force is recruiting police officers in new ways this financial year. These ‘new routes’ include police constable degree apprenticeships and the degree holder entry programme. These methods have changed the force’s employment models. Extensive workforce planning and recruitment has been necessary to ensure they are successful.

Staffordshire Police and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service now use a single governance model, under the Staffordshire Commissioner. Following this move, the service is looking at more opportunities for working together. This includes opportunities across human resources, estates, finance and procurement, communications, legal services, learning and development, and business intelligence.

The service will look at sharing accommodation and facilities across the police and fire estates. It aims to be much more efficient, while improving the services provided to the public.

Summary for question 2