Thames Valley PEEL 2016
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Thames Valley Police has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. It has a comprehensive understanding of demand for its services and uses its resources to manage this demand well. The force has sound financial plans that are likely to achieve further savings while improving efficiency. In last year’s inspection, Thames Valley was also judged to be good.
Since HMIC’s 2015 inspection, Thames Valley Police has continued to be good in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. It has a good understanding of current demand. By reviewing and analysing response demand, protective demand and investigative demand, the force aims to determine the source of demand, the time taken to deal with it and the average cost it involves. The force has taken action to uncover hidden demand such as child sexual exploitation, honour-based violence and hate crime by raising staff awareness, and recording of incidents has increased as a result. It is refining its understanding of both current and hidden demand by making better use of data held by partner organisations such as the fire service and local authority. The force has a strategic threat assessment that considers how demand may change over the next few years and it is looking at the potential impact on demand of reducing resources in its partner organisations.
The force is good at using its resources to manage current demand. It prioritises resources based on its assessment of threat, harm and risk and uses priority-based budgeting to align resources to the areas of greatest need. The force has a very good understanding of its workforce’s skills, which are logged in a database so that skills profiles can be monitored and gaps can be identified and addressed. It has increased specialist detectives to address a substantial increase in reported cases of domestic abuse and serious sexual offences, and is addressing the changes in skills needed to deal with cyber-crime and the threat of terrorism. The force has a good track record of joint working with other police forces to improve efficiency and reduce costs, for example in a shared contact centre, ICT and vehicle fleet management. It also works with other emergency services to agree the most appropriate service to respond to particular demand, and has a well-regarded mental health triage scheme.
Thames Valley Police is good at planning for demand in the future. The force has ambitious and transformational plans to use ICT more effectively in collaboration with Hampshire Constabulary. It is already making use of body-worn video cameras, smartphones and tablets. The force uses external expertise when necessary, for example to improve financial planning and to assure ICT plans for technical viability and value. Its projected workforce model and planned use of assets match its organisational priorities and financial requirements. It has a strong track record in meeting its savings requirements and it plans to increase its collaboration with other forces in its drive for efficiency and saving money. The force’s financial plans are practical and credible and should achieve comprehensive change and savings.
How well does the force understand the current and likely future demand?
Thames Valley Police has a good understanding of current demand and can demonstrate how it has increased its knowledge and reporting of hidden demand. The force has used the priority-based budgeting process to challenge itself to become more efficient and is anticipating how demand will change. However, it is still developing its understanding of how reductions in the resources available to its partners will affect demand for its services. The force has some appreciation of changing public expectations in relation to the service they receive from the police, but this comes from a limited number of sources.
Areas for improvement
- Thames Valley Police should ensure its understanding of the demand for its services, and of the expectations of the public, are up to date by regularly reviewing its evidence base. These reviews should be conducted alongside local authorities, other emergency services and partner organisations, to ensure that the force takes the necessary steps to meet current and likely future demand, including hidden demand.
How well does the force use its resources to manage current demand?
Thames Valley Police makes good use of its resources to manage current demand. The force’s method of setting priorities and directing resources is established and well-understood. It is based on a sound understanding of strategic threats and risks and good use of priority-based budgeting to align resources with the areas of greatest need. Among other measures to further improve this situation is the introduction of a customer services portal in the force’s contact centre, designed to improve public access as well as manage demand in the contact centre.
The force can demonstrate a well-developed understanding of the costs of its services and workforce skills, and it also has a sound method through which gaps in the workforce can be identified and addressed. The force has a good track record of joint working with other police forces and works well in partnership with other agencies, including the numerous county, unitary and district councils across Thames Valley.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
Thames Valley Police is good at planning for demand in the future. Its plans are solid
and the force has made good use of information to project future demand. It has a comprehensive and shared ICT strategy, which has been informed by experts and is subject to ongoing scrutiny through the force audit committee. Priority-based budgeting has allowed the force to identify how to work more efficiently.
The force’s future plans are ambitious and realistic. However, it is not yet able to demonstrate all of the anticipated savings it aims to secure through investing in ICT.