Essex PEEL 2014
How well the force delivers value for money
Essex Police has responded well to the financial challenge of this spending review. The force is looking beyond this period and is planning for future funding reductions so that it is best placed to be able to continue to provide an effective police service.
Essex is on track to achieve its required savings of £47.3m over this spending review period. It also has detailed plans to achieve most of the savings required for 2015/16 and is finalising work to close the remaining gap. Overall, the force understands the issues facing it and has a well-managed change programme in place to ensure that it implements savings required while making improvements to the way policing is provided locally.
Sophisticated analysis of demands and implementation of a new IT system provide the force with opportunities in the coming year to work more efficiently and effectively. Along with its continued commitment to collaboration with Kent Police this is likely to form the basis of an affordable way of providing policing across the county in the future.
HMIC is reassured by the level of detail underpinning the force’s savings plans for the next two years. It has identified opportunities to make further efficiencies while protecting, as far as it can, its crime-fighting capacity in its endeavour to keep the communities in Essex safe.
The long-term financial position of the force will be greatly improved if it can successfully develop effective policing structures which are affordable within the force’s projected budget without using reserves.
To what extent is the force efficient?
Essex Police has a made a comprehensive assessment of demand and of the challenges it faces. There is strong evidence of resources being allocated to match policing priorities. The force successfully reversed some of the adverse effects on the service it provides arising from changes made early in the spending review. However, there is scope to improve further the quality of service by working more smartly. Since 2010/11, the force has reduced crime but not to the levels achieved by other forces. The level of victim satisfaction in Essex remains steady throughout this period. However, the force continues to achieve lower overall crime levels than elsewhere in England and Wales.
To what extent is the force taking steps to ensure a secure financial position for the short and long term?
The force has sound plans to achieve savings in 2014/15 thereby achieving the £47.3m savings required over the spending review. It is progressing plans to achieve a further £9.5m of savings in 2015/16. The force has assessed its future savings requirements to 2017 and has started to develop plans to meet this challenge. The force needs to invest in its infrastructure to support the way it will provide policing in the future. The force needs to plan to achieve future savings without over-reliance on reserves. Investing in its infrastructure will help the force to meet longer-term challenges.
To what extent has the force got an affordable way of providing policing?
The force plans to increase the proportion of the workforce allocated to frontline roles while meeting its savings requirement over the spending review. After a shaky start at the beginning of the spending review the force is now developing better plans for providing local policing. This will see 500 officers from response, patrol and other specialist functions aligned to local policing. The force’s collaboration with Kent Police is strong; it has achieved savings with opportunities to extend it further. The force is bearing down on non-pay and is successfully protecting frontline police officer crime-fighting roles while also making the necessary savings.