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Durham PEEL 2016


How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 03/11/2016

Durham Constabulary has been assessed as outstanding in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.

Durham Constabulary understands the public demand for policing and the importance of using that understanding to organise its services. It has assessed the factors that are likely to influence demand over the next 15 to 20 years and has tried to identify demands that may be hidden at present, such as in relation to honour-based violence. The constabulary challenges itself to identify which of its own internal demands for additional services are unnecessary and to reduce these.

The constabulary understands the costs of the provision of police services. It consistently reviews how it can improve efficiency without reducing its service to the public, for example by making full use of a ‘diary car’ instead of an immediate police response where appropriate. It develops its policing and financial plans together, in the light of its overall priorities. It has a comprehensive ICT strategy to support these plans that is helping the constabulary both to work more efficiently and to improve its services. The constabulary involves all relevant internal departments in six-weekly strategic resourcing group meetings that monitor the policing and financial plans. Those present have the authority to take action to resolve any problems and fill any gaps that emerge. The constabulary’s internal audit team reviews not only how much the constabulary does, but also how well it is doing it. The constabulary has good working arrangements with other agencies and police forces to make sure that the right agency is tackling each task, that resources are shared effectively and that income is generated where possible.

Durham Constabulary’s plans for the future are well developed and ambitious. They make realistic assumptions based on comprehensive information about the future demand for policing and the resources that will be required. The plans take into account possible risks, including reductions in central funding. The constabulary has plans to increase its police officers from 1,150 full time equivalent in 2016/17 to 1,200 in 2018/19 and beyond. It has a detailed training plan to address the skills gaps created by those leaving the force.

Questions for Efficiency


How well does the force understand the current and likely future demand?


HMIC has judged Durham Constabulary to be outstanding in how well it understands current demand for its services and is assessing and planning for likely future demand.

The constabulary has a comprehensive understanding of demand and recognises the significance of using that understanding to organise an efficient and effective policing service. It has used detailed research to make decisions on where to place appropriately trained staff, depending on the levels of threat, risk and harm. It emphasises preventative measures, such as restorative justice and problem solving, which are seen as the principal methods to drive down demand linked to crime and anti-social behaviour. The constabulary is making efforts to understand and respond to demand that is less likely to be reported. The ‘Halo project’, which meets diverse communities and offers support to victims of honour-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation, is one example of these efforts. Inefficient processes that create unnecessary internal demands are continually challenged and the constabulary has been able to show examples of this resulting in significant and minimal gains.

Durham Constabulary has taken considerable steps to understand future demand. It has a detailed understanding of the changes in the demographic make-up of the Durham area and has assessed the impact on crime types and identified the crimes that are likely to increase in the immediate future. The constabulary can demonstrate a good understanding of how reductions in the funding of their partners will affect demand for police services. They have worked closely with Darlington Council and the North East Ambulance Service to identify possible impacts and then work together to reduce them. The constabulary identifies public expectations through PACT meetings and uses a variety of public perception surveys extensively. Messages outlining the financial status of the constabulary are presented by a highly visible chief constable, including through the local media.


How well does the force use its resources to manage current demand?


HMIC assesses Durham Constabulary as being outstanding in the way that it uses its resources to manage current demand.

Durham Constabulary can demonstrate that its strategic decisions on prioritisation have a clear rationale, based on a comprehensive understanding of current and future demand, local priorities, national requirements and public expectations. It has worked closely with partner agencies, including local authorities and other blue light services, to understand fully the impact of budget reductions. The constabulary has a comprehensive understanding of the costs associated with providing a quality service and has been able to review continually and to implement new ways of working at a reduced cost. Strong governance processes enable the constabulary to identify gaps in capacity and capability at an early stage and move resources around the constabulary in a timely and effective manner.

The constabulary maximises the opportunities to work collaboratively with other police forces and a range of public and private sector partners and can demonstrate clearly how its joint working is transforming outcomes, reducing costs and/or building resilience. Investments in IT and in long-standing pension shortfalls will realise savings over the long term.


How well is the force planning for demand in the future?


Durham Constabulary has future plans that are well developed, ambitious and comprehensive. The plans are based on realistic assumptions from a set of comprehensive information about future demand and workforce capabilities.

Its future workforce plan outlines the measures the constabulary has taken to understand its financial status and its ability to match resources to changing demand. The constabulary’s ambitious ICT strategy is closely aligned with its workforce and service plans. It is enabling the constabulary both to do things it is already doing more efficiently and improve the way it provides a service. The constabulary demonstrated comprehensive plans for its workforce in the short, medium and long term. The constabulary plans to increase its budgeted full-time equivalent posts from 1,150 officers in 2016/17 to 1,200 officers by 2018/19, with this figure being maintained beyond that date.

Durham Constabulary has a comprehensive understanding of financial challenges and has developed prudent plans that take into account possible reductions in central funding. The constabulary has gone through a process of scenario and risk planning in relation to the medium-term budget. The constabulary has considered a number of measures that could be adopted to mitigate the risk of higher shortfalls than planned. They include a number of options relating to reducing officers and staff numbers. This is viewed as achievable, given the investment in technology, which is designed to reduce demand, together with the extension of collaboration with other forces, partner agencies, the private sector and other blue-light agencies.