Surrey PEEL 2018
How efficiently does the force operate and how sustainable are its services to the public?
Surrey Police has less understanding of the demand for its services than in 2017. The force knows it needs to analyse data more effectively to understand demand (including hidden demand) to better serve the public. However, it tends to rely on professional judgment instead.
In 2017, the force hired more staff. During the time of our inspection most workloads appeared to be manageable. Despite this, staff still felt they didn’t have enough resources to manage their work properly. The force sometimes inappropriately re-grades calls for its services. This could be to justify a slower response time. This may be happening because the force doesn’t have enough resources to deal with demand.
Sometimes, the force is inefficient because it avoids the risk of doing anything wrong. The force has collaborated with Sussex Police to find more efficient ways of working. It has also set up a new efficiency board to combat these problems by finding new ways of working.
How well does the force use its resources to meet the demand it faces?
Surrey Police is struggling to meet demand for its services. For example, the force’s average response time for a Grade 2 call is 2 hours and 26 minutes. It only meets the target time of 1 hour for 50 percent of Grade 2 calls.
The force has no overview of the internal and external demand on its services to help it address this. It has a limited understanding of the costs of its services. It is currently more reliant on professional judgment.
The force knows it needs to invest in more analysts and analytical software, but it is unclear when this will happen. The force continues to avoid risks, and this creates unnecessary internal demand.
However, the force has an established collaboration with Sussex Police to identify more efficient ways of working and sharing resources. It also works closely with Thames Valley, Kent and Hampshire forces – plus other outside partner organisations. The force also recently set up a new efficiency board to improve efficiency.
Surrey Police needs to understand the skills it requires to meet demand. It currently has a good understanding of the skills managers have. It plans to do the same for the rest of the workforce.
The force has an innovative technology strategy, forming a new digital division with Sussex Police.
Areas for improvement
- The force should do further work to gain a better overview of current demand for its services, including hidden demand. This is so it can make best use of its resources to meet the needs of the public.
- The force should ensure the way it prioritises and allocates demand takes full account of the risks of inadvertently suppressing demand.
- The force should ensure its aversion to risk is not constraining ideas and creating unnecessary bureaucracy and internal demand.
How well does the force plan for the future?
Surrey Police regularly consults the public and carries out customer and victim satisfaction surveys. The force believes it is the first force in the country to use text messaging to get feedback from victims of crime. However, the force isn’t asking for detailed information from its partner organisations to fully understand future demand for its services.
The force needs to improve how it prioritises resources to meet demand. It currently has 31 priority areas to tackle. This needs to be more focused.
Surrey Police is also taking steps to make sure it has the staff skills it needs to meet future demand. The number of detectives it has is gradually falling (in line with a national trend). The force is considering recruiting more staff directly into these roles.
The force’s new digital division will look at how the technology the police and criminals use will shape demand for the future. The force sometimes supresses demand by inappropriately reprioritising calls for service. This may be because the force doesn’t have enough staff available to take calls.
Senior leaders are committed to improving the force. But Surrey Police doesn’t have a clear strategy to map out how this will happen.
Areas for improvement
- The force should develop clearer longer-term plans which are shared with the workforce and consider projected future demand, resourcing requirements and changing public expectations. The force should use these plans to define distinct priorities.
- The force should develop financial plans to cover all future budgeting scenarios and show how it intends to mitigate any reduction in service provision because of a financial shortfall.
- The force should undertake appropriate activities to understand fully its workforce’s capacity and capability to identify any gaps in meeting future requirements, put plans in place to address these, and carry these out.