South Wales PEEL 2017
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
South Wales Police is judged to be good in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment this year is the same as last year. The force is judged to be good in its 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.
South Wales Police has continued to build on its strong understanding of the demand on its services. It places this understanding at the heart of how it operates, how it plans and works with other organisations to identify, predict and tackle demand, and how it deploys its resources to meet demand. South Wales Police has developed strong collaborative working arrangements with other police forces, the private sector and local communities to deal with demand more efficiently. It is planning actively for how it will work in the future, and takes account of public satisfaction in these plans.
The force has systems in place to understand both the capabilities and gaps of its workforce, enabling it to direct its resources to meet current demand in most instances, and to allow for longer-term planning and deployment of its resources. It has a good understanding of the operational skills of its officers and staff, but has limited understanding of its leadership skills. At the time of our inspection, the number of abandoned calls made by the public to the force each month was too large. The force is aware that recent changes to improve its service have affected the balance between the demand for non-emergency call-handling and the number of call-handlers within its control room. It has taken some steps to address this in the medium term through technology; it now needs to consider introducing measures to address the number of abandoned calls, in order to provide the standard of service the public expects. As a result, chief officers have commissioned a comprehensive review of the demands on the public service centre to seek ways of tackling demand at first point of contact that are more efficient and to offer alternative methods of contact, while continuing to provide a high standard of service to the public.
The force’s investment plans should lead to greater efficiency and bring about improvements to the provision of its services. While the force is able to articulate the cost savings acquired from collaborative working it cannot, on the whole, demonstrate other benefits of collaborative working, or explain why it chooses to work with certain organisations and not others. Although the force is currently showing a gap in its budget from 2017/18 onwards, it has several contingencies in place, such as increasing the precept on council tax, and these contingencies should cater for any shortfall.
How well does the force understand demand?
South Wales Police has a good understanding of the full range of demand for its services. It uses several processes to analyse demand and has invested in technology, in collaboration with Gwent Police, to introduce greater efficiency into the way it manages its staff and finances. Good governance processes are in place to identify waste and inefficiency, as well as to ensure that the benefits of change are realised and that any unintended negative consequences are addressed; specifically through post-implementation reviews and introducing further change, if necessary. However, the force is inadvertently suppressing demand through the large number of abandoned calls for service; it needs to improve its response to 101 calls for service and to reduce the number of abandoned calls. The force recognises it needs to do more to reduce the number of abandoned non-emergency calls and has plans in place to address this. Finally, the force provides a variety of ways for its workforce to give feedback and to put forward ideas to its senior leaders. The force is able to demonstrate that it is open to responding to and acting on this feedback and new ideas; support champions assist staff who contribute, helping them to formalise their suggestions and present them to the board.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it has sufficient resources available in the control room to fulfil its resourcing model, and so to meet its demand, while also taking into account the well-being of its workforce.
How well does the force use its resources?
South Wales Police makes good use of its resources. The force has a good understanding of the operational skills of its officers and staff, including the skills that will be needed in the future, and it is developing a better understanding of non-operational skills. However, it has limited understanding of its leadership skills, although it is now taking some steps to improve this. The force bases its priorities on its understanding of the current and future demand for its services, local priorities and national requirements. On a day-to-day basis, it can identify and be flexible with its resources, where resourcing falls below the anticipated demand levels. Its investment focuses on improving technology, enhancing its capability and the priorities set out in its policing plan. In relation to its joint-working, it is committed to collaborating with organisations, such as other police forces, local authorities, health, social services, the ambulance service, fire and rescue services, Welsh Government, Public Health Wales and voluntary sector organisations. It has working arrangements in place to ensure that demand is managed efficiently across agencies. The force could do more, however, to monitor the benefits of collaboration initiatives, although it can demonstrate cost savings as a result of collaboration. The force is proactive in seeking out new opportunities for service improvement, and its leaders demonstrate a willingness to experiment with new approaches.
Areas for improvement
- The force should put in place better processes and governance to understand and realise the benefits of collaborative work, and how they affect the force’s ability to meet current and likely future demand efficiently.
- The force should conduct a leadership skills audit that will allow it to understand leadership capacity and capability.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
South Wales Police’s understanding of future demand for its services is good. The force is able to evaluate fully what its future demand is likely to be and it has advanced plans to meet that demand. The force has processes in place to maintain a continuing and up-to-date understanding of the public’s changing expectations.
The force has a good understanding of succession planning, but has less understanding of the softer skills held by its individual officers and staff. The force has introduced a talent management scheme and career pathways, however, these need to be more clearly communicated to the workforce. The force is open to recruiting and benchmarking externally the skills and capabilities required by some posts with those of external candidates but does not currently see any need to consider direct entry appointments for appointments to be made at the rank of inspector.
The force understands the opportunities that emerging technology can offer, both to policing and criminal behaviour, and how this is changing. It has embraced technology as a tool to shape its vision for the future, and is working to extend its use of technology to bring about further efficiencies and improvements to its service provision. The force understands the importance of collaborative working, both with other police forces and local authority agencies; it has achieved considerable savings through its collaborative approach.
The force has a full medium-term financial plan setting out its revenue and capital requirements, together with planned savings for 2017/18 to 2020/21. The force has made good progress in developing and implementing the change programme necessary to make its required savings, and independent scrutiny indicates that the force’s plans are good.