Devon and Cornwall PEEL 2016
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Devon and Cornwall Police has been assessed as requiring improvement in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force’s understanding of current and future demand is limited and it does not have a developed target operating model on which to base its current and future plans for allocating resources and managing demand.
Devon and Cornwall Police’s understanding of current, and likely future, demand is limited to traditional responsive policing. The force also lacks a full understanding of likely changes in demand and the impact this might have on its future capacity to sustain efficient policing. HMIC is disappointed that despite our findings in the 2015 efficiency inspection, Devon and Cornwall Police has not made enough progress in developing a new operating model to manage demand through to 2020 and beyond. As a consequence, it is unable to identify its capacity and capability requirements, including its workforce and assets, either now or in the future, to a sufficient degree of accuracy. Since the inspection in 2015 the force received a far more favourable financial settlement than expected, which has reduced the need for immediate savings. However efficiencies need to be made and while the force has some plans to align its resources to meet demand, they are not soundly based.
The force does, however, have ambitious plans to collaborate in an alliance with Dorset Police. Progress has been made to merge some services and the alliance intends to combine others, including ICT. The force has a good track record of achieving budgetary savings and has healthy reserves. The majority of savings the force plans to make by 2019/20 will come from its strategic alliance.
HMIC concludes that the current and future management of demand and resources by the force does not yet provide an assurance that the future for policing across Devon and Cornwall is sustainable.
How well does the force understand the current and likely future demand?
Devon and Cornwall Police’s understanding of current, and likely future, demand requires improvement. The force has improved its understanding of some areas of current demand but it has focused mainly on demand generated by calls from the public for police attendance at crimes and incidents. It has much more limited understanding of other areas of less obvious, but important, demands on police time.
The force also lacks a full understanding of likely changes in demand and the impact this might have on its future capacity to sustain efficient policing. Devon and Cornwall Police recognises the need to understand the likely future demand, and has taken some steps towards doing so. However, HMIC is disappointed that despite our findings in the 2015 efficiency inspection, Devon and Cornwall Police has not made enough progress in developing a new operating model to manage demand through to 2020 and beyond. As a consequence, it is unable to identify its capacity and capability requirements to a sufficient degree of accuracy. Furthermore, shortcomings in the force’s ability to consider future and less obvious demand mean that it is not preparing itself well for the future.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it develops a resilient future operating model through to 2020 and beyond, which should take account of hidden as well as likely future demand.
How well does the force use its resources to manage current demand?
The force has some plans in place to align its resources to meet demand, but in overall terms this is an area that requires improvement.
The force prioritises resources to meet current demands for service; however it is unclear whether the allocation of resources is directly connected to the force’s planning cycle or developed in a less structured way. More positively, we found that the force is introducing different approaches to help manage demand; the new joint prevention department with Dorset Police is a notable development.
We found that the force has some limited understanding of its current workforce capabilities and gaps and noted that its training plan takes into account force priorities.
However, the force’s plan to ensure the composition of its workforce is able to address future capability gaps is less convincing, due to continued delays in the development of a future operating model. When the operating model is determined, the force will have a much firmer base for effective workforce planning.
The force has effective systems in place to consider, implement and review business cases aimed at aligning its services with those of Dorset Police under its alliance arrangements. HMIC did not find similar effective governance arrangements in business cases and programmes of work that related solely to Devon and Cornwall Police.
Areas for improvement
- The force should develop a target operating model and use it to determine future workforce capabilities and gaps.
- The force should review its internal processes for assessing the impact of changes to working practices, including the full benefits and costs.
- The force should ensure that its mobile data report-submission processes are quality assured; this should include the prompt entry of data onto force computer systems and better supervision of reported crime and other occurrences.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
Devon and Cornwall Police is developing future plans that are intended to represent a radical change for the force, as well as to result in significant service improvement. However it appears to have made only limited use of information about future demand, workforce capabilities and its assets to inform its planning which means that the force requires improvement. The majority of the savings the force plans to make by 2019/20 will come from its strategic alliance with Dorset Police. The force is seeking to maximise the capability and capacity of its current IT system as it moves towards a longer-term collaborative solution.
Devon and Cornwall Police has a good track record of making savings. Its plans to remove £13m from its budget, at the same time as ‘investing to save’ throughout the spending review period, are coherent. The force’s strategic plan does not define a target operating model. HMIC concludes that the force’s plan is not based on a tangible analysis of future demand and its workforce plans do not identify comprehensively its future workforce capabilities.
The force has a healthy reserves position (£70m) and has allocated £6m over the spending review period for transformational programmes. The force has robust procedures to ensure benefits realisation from functions entering its strategic alliance, but those that relate to internal change are less robust. Approximately £3m of savings have been realised from the alliance. HMIC found this process to be effective and it will serve the force well in realising future savings.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that its plans for change, including collaboration and local policing, align with its medium term financial plans and that these provide assurances that the future for policing across Devon and Cornwall is sustainable.