Surrey PEEL 2017
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Surrey 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’s understanding of demand is judged to be good; it is judged to require improvement for its use of resources to manage demand; and its planning for future demand is judged to be good.
Surrey Police has a good understanding of current demand from analysing a wide range of police data and should be commended for its progressive demand analysis report which predicts demand for the next 12 months. The force has made significant progress in reducing the number of abandoned 101 calls through a thorough review of processes and the introduction of an effective quality assurance mechanism, which has also improved the quality of the service it provides in relation to all calls from the public.
The force’s ability to make effective plans for recruitment, training and personal development is sometimes hampered by gaps in its understanding of the skills and capabilities of its workforce and leaders. However, in other areas Surrey Police is good at assessing its priorities and meeting different areas of demand. It works well with other forces, particularly Sussex Police, and is seeking new opportunities for collaborative working to achieve further savings. The force is keen to exploit technological advances wherever possible. Public expectations are important to the force and it is prioritising neighbourhood policing in its operating model.
The force has good plans for the future and is seeking further opportunities to make savings; it plans to re-invest the savings it makes.
How well does the force understand demand?
Surrey Police has a good understanding of current demand for its service, based on a wide range of police data. The force has produced a demand analysis report which provides a meaningful assessment of predicted future demand over the next 12 months. It recognises that demand can be reduced through prevention and so its operating model promotes neighbourhood policing. However, its understanding of hidden demand is less well developed and the force needs to enhance its work with partner organisations to include exchanging information to help identify crime that is less likely to be reported.
The force has processes and governance systems to monitor efficiency. It could do more to detect inefficient practices in its routine work, but it has improved its performance in relation to inadvertently suppressed demand. A performance management regime is now in place in the contact centre and the rate of abandoned 101 calls has fallen. We found a thorough system of quality assurance operating within the force control room to review decision-making and risk assessment processes, and also in the occurrence management unit to assess data entered onto the force system. The force has identified additional demand caused by incorrect recording of data, which it is working to resolve.
The force has not managed its change programmes as effectively as it might because it does not follow a defined process for management and governance. However, it is aiming to improve its management of change programmes through appointing a joint head of change with Sussex Police. Although Surrey Police seeks and responds to ideas from the workforce, it could benefit from streamlining the different approaches into a single process, and then promoting this to the workforce.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure it has an accessible process in place to identify good ideas and innovation from the workforce.
- The force should further develop its understanding of hidden demand, analysing appropriate information and intelligence drawn from wider sources.
How well does the force use its resources?
Surrey Police has only a limited understanding of the skills and capabilities of its workforce and has not undertaken any force-wide audit of skills. The force does not have a complete understanding of the skills it requires for every role or the skills it needs now to address new and emerging risks. Individual directorates maintain their own skills databases and the public protection unit monitors skills separately in each division, but there is no overview. This prevents effective planning for recruitment, training and personal development. The force also recognises that it needs to improve its understanding of the skills and capabilities of its leaders and any skills gaps and is collaborating with Sussex Police to develop a new leadership framework.
The force prioritises its activities effectively, assessing threat, harm and risk in local daily management and regular strategic tasking meetings, and takes public expectations into account. It has prioritised neighbourhood policing through its revised operating model but it did not anticipate the level of demand this would place on it and has had to provide overtime for officers and extend the length of their shifts. The force has worked hard to recruit more officers and is now up to full complement, but this workforce is young and inexperienced, so it still does not have the best possible staffing mix.
Surrey Police has good governance arrangements in place to understand its current financial position and any impending risks to the budget. However, future financial plans could be regulated better and the force may benefit from switching to priority-based budgeting to give it greater financial control. It has a change prioritisation board and the joint Surrey and Sussex investment board looks closely at the financial aspect of any proposal. The force plans to make further investments in mobile data technology and in modern buildings in better locations. It has a record of successful collaborative working, including with other forces, the mental health trust, children’s services and the University of Surrey.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it has the resources to meet its resourcing model, and the demand placed on it, while taking into account the wellbeing of its staff.
- The force should undertake appropriate activities to fully understand its workforce’s capabilities, in order to identify any gaps and put plans in place to address them. This will enable the force to be confident in its ability to be efficient in meeting current and likely future demand.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
Surrey Police has a good understanding of future demand. It is using some innovative data-management methods, mapping future growth in crime based on current trends. In combination with other performance management material, this skilful interpretation of data helps senior leaders to prioritise and plan more effectively. The force uses the management of risk in law enforcement model to assess the types of crimes that are presenting most threat to communities and to highlight where it does not currently have the capacity or capability to tackle them effectively. It has effective relationships with other forces and organisations and it is looking to expand its collaborative arrangements in future to help meet increases in demand.
The force has a good understanding of what the public wants through the PCC’s comprehensive engagement strategy, which is designed to ensure that policing decisions are informed by effective communication and engagement with the public. It also understands how the effect of changes in technology are likely to affect both crime and policing in the future.
The force needs to improve its understanding of the skills and capabilities it requires in its future leaders and then tailor development opportunities appropriately. It is developing a new leadership framework to address this. Succession planning is mixed; although the force has a workforce plan that identifies critical roles and potential gaps, it has been reactive in the last 12 months because of a high unplanned leaver rate. The force does have a record of using national external recruitment programmes and is making greater use of social media platforms to attract new talent.
Surrey Police’s plans are realistic and it is continuing to look for and find opportunities to achieve savings. Savings are expected from further collaborative work with Sussex Police, from a revised operating model for specialist crime and from a review of HR, financial services, corporate services and IT. The force plans to re-invest the savings it has made.