Essex PEEL 2017
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Essex Police is judged to be good in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment is the same as last year. The force has maintained a good understanding of demand; its use of resources to manage demand is assessed to be good; and its planning for future demand is also judged to be good.
Essex Police has a good understanding of current and likely future demand for its services, and assesses continually its ability to respond effectively. It also has a good understanding of crime that is hidden, such as domestic abuse and female genital mutilation. The force has, over the previous two years, necessarily moved a substantial number of people into the public protection department to help it to provide better support for people who are vulnerable. This movement of staff has put pressure on other areas of the force, despite efforts to reduce and manage demand. The force needs to take action as soon as possible to reduce the high rate of 101 calls being abandoned by the public. In addition, the victim satisfaction rate for the force has been falling steadily since 2011, from 83.1 percent to 73.4 percent. The force is undertaking work to understand the reasons for these problems and to make improvements.
The force understands the skills and capabilities it needs, and how these will change in the future. It has undertaken a meaningful skills and capabilities audit and uses this information to plan recruitment and training. The force is having some success in increasing recruitment from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. It also makes good use of national schemes aimed at bringing people with diverse backgrounds and different experiences into the police service.
Essex Police has a strong commitment to joint working to improve efficiency and make savings. This is particularly so with Kent Police and as part of the seven-force strategic alliance, but also with partners such as the local authority in community safety hubs. The force’s detailed 2020 change plan forecasts and tracks potential savings, costs and investments for the future. Consolidating and rationalising its building stock to meet future operational needs is a crucial element of its plans for the future. The force is considering a number of affordability options and has brought in outside expertise to lead strategic change. It has yet to develop its savings plans fully beyond 2017/18, but this work is in progress. The force’s plans are realistic, innovative and based on prudent financial assumptions, but they may be difficult to achieve.
How well does the force understand demand?
Essex Police is good at understanding current and likely future demand for its services and it continually assesses its ability to respond to it effectively. The force’s understanding covers geographical areas, time frames and predicting peaks in demand or spikes in crime types at certain times of the year. It also assesses demand in terms of its complexity, time taken and harm. It has a good understanding of crime that is hidden, such as domestic abuse and female genital mutilation. The force has, over the previous two years moved a substantial number of people into the public protection department to help it to provide better support for people who are vulnerable. This was due to the public protection department being under-resourced for the demand faced and the very real risks this created for victims who are vulnerable. This movement of staff has placed pressure on other areas of the force, despite initiatives and innovations that are designed to reduce and manage demand better.
The force has a structured approach to dealing with demand and assesses and grades calls using the THRIVE system. However, the number of abandoned 101 calls to the force is too high, and the victim satisfaction rate for the force has been falling steadily since 2011 and is now at 73.4 percent. The force is undertaking work to understand the reasons for these issues and to make improvements.
Essex Police has effective governance processes to ensure that it is efficient. The force has a good record of establishing robust processes to ensure that benefits are realised from change programmes and that it identifies any unintended consequences. It encourages its workforce to submit ideas and suggestions for innovation; its suggestion scheme has been in place for many years and it recently introduced a new ideas scheme on the force intranet.
Areas for improvement
- The force should review its efforts to reduce the levels of abandoned 101 calls to ensure that the changes are effective, and it should seek to reduce the levels of abandonment to more acceptable levels as soon as possible.
How well does the force use its resources?
Essex Police has a good understanding of the skills and capabilities it needs, as well as how these will change in the future. The force has undertaken a meaningful skills and capabilities audit, including of its leaders; leaders have also been profiled for personality traits and individual preferences. The information obtained enables the force to plan recruitment and training. The force’s processes for succession planning seek to ensure that talent within the force is identified, developed, retained and used in the best interests of the force and the public. Its positive action strategy aims to increase the diversity of the workforce and leadership and is having some success in its latest recruitment campaign in increasing recruitment from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
The force’s decisions on prioritising and allocating resources are based on its comprehensive understanding of current and future demand for its services, local priorities, national requirements and public expectations. The chief officer team has a clear understanding of the impact of prioritising one area of work over another and take steps to minimise any negative effects. The force’s detailed 2020 change plan projects and tracks potential savings, costs and investments and shows the depth of its planning for the future.
The force continues to demonstrate its commitment to joint working and collaboration. It continues to be part of the seven-force strategic alliance and its collaboration with Kent Police is mature and effective. Significant savings are anticipated from collaboration on shared services with Kent Police. It continues to pursue closer collaboration with the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and works with local partners such as the local authority in community safety hubs. The chief officer team actively encourages leaders to seek out new opportunities for improvement from outside the force as well as examples of good practice from other forces.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
Essex Police understands trends in demand for its services and is able to evaluate what demand is likely to be in the future. Analysis includes use of a predictive calendar to identify anticipated peaks in demand and predict spikes in crime types at certain times of the year. The force has a good understanding of how new technology is changing patterns of crime and is developing its digital response in collaboration with Kent Police, including using mobile devices, body-worn video cameras and drone devices.
The force has demonstrated a strong commitment to joint working over a number of years, in particular with Kent Police, and it remains an active member of the seven-force strategic collaboration programme. The force has an understanding of its current leadership’s skills, including personality traits, and is developing a good understanding of the types of leaders that it requires for the future. It has strategies for talent management and succession planning and makes good use of national recruitment and development schemes.
The force’s transformation plans are innovative and will change the way the force operates. Its plans for the future are based on realistic assumptions about future income, costs and benefits, making good use of information on future demand and workforce capabilities, but may be difficult to achieve. The buildings plan is a crucial element of the overall transformational plan and underpins much of the force’s future ambition. The force is still developing its plans, so precise information on where the required savings will be made beyond 2017/18 is not available.