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Cambridgeshire PEEL 2018


How efficiently does the force operate and how sustainable are its services to the public?

Last updated 21/01/2020

Cambridgeshire Constabulary is good at operating efficiently and providing a sustainable service to the public.

The force has a clear understanding of the demand for its services. It doesn’t suppress demand. It listens to both the public and its workforce, and acts on feedback. It understands what influences demand. Its new policing model gives priority to the types of demand that represent the greatest risk to the public. Its simplified force structure helps it establish and allocate demand more clearly. It has also invested in technology to improve its efficiency.

The force is able to consider a range of likely scenarios to guide future predictions of demand. It works closely with a range of partner organisations and experts to get a clear understanding of the effect of that demand on public services. It consults the public using a variety of methods. It has carefully designed its policing model, and its workforce plans are in line with force priorities. It continues to recruit to meet the number of officers and staff it needs. But it should make sure it has enough people working in human resources (HR) to support its plans.

The force understands the costs of its services. It has a good track record for financial planning and is on target to achieve the necessary savings. Its collaboration with neighbouring forces helps it provide a more cost-effective service.

Questions for Efficiency


How well does the force use its resources to meet the demand it faces?


We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.

Assessing current demand

Senior leaders take monitoring demand and analysing the productivity of the workforce seriously. The force has invested in sophisticated software to enable it to measure, manage and plan for future demand. However, a lack of resources in the corporate development department means that it doesn’t have enough people to make effective use of this tool. In its 2019 force management statement (FMS), it identified this as a critical need that it is planning to address. In the meantime, it is using student interns to assist it in meeting its growing needs for business and demand analysis.

In our 2017 effectiveness report, we said the force should put in place better processes and governance to understand the prioritisation of calls to help it meet current and likely future demand. This year, we spent time during fieldwork with staff in the demand hub and are now satisfied that it has addressed this area for improvement.

The force fully understands the nature and volume of calls for service from the public and other organisations. Changes to improve the allocation of domestic abuse calls is evidence that steps have been taken to make sure it effectively prioritises demand and allocation. It also anticipates and plans for seasonal changes in demand, such as public holidays or major sporting fixtures. Detailed daily analysis allows the force to adapt resource allocation to meet any surges in demand. Its new force structure supports this.

The performance framework for the force’s neighbourhood policing strategy helps it to establish and act on concerns that matter most to communities. It has increased its use of social media through the proactivity of its corporate communications officers. These officers work alongside neighbourhood teams to help them identify and contact diverse communities such as the elderly, young people and migrant workers. This approach provides officers with more capacity to attend local meetings, while communities are kept updated digitally on steps taken to reduce issues such as rough sleeping and knife crime.

Together with the education authority and the youth offending service, the force makes notable efforts to tackle knife crime through a joint serious street violence strategy. It uses accident and emergency admissions data to assess demand and inform its approach. The referrals and strategy meetings it holds in the MASH and METHUB also give the force a good understanding of the demand created by hidden crime types such as modern slavery and human trafficking. Where data isn’t available, senior leaders give clear explanations to chief officers about partnership work and the alternative approaches that could meaningfully reduce demand. One example of this is the ambition expressed by the head of protecting vulnerable people department, who has secured the agreement of partner organisations to develop evidence-led alternatives to prosecution.

Understanding factors that influence demand

Chief officers have a good understanding of factors that influence demand. They are carefully monitoring the effect of the recent major changes in the LPR and new Athena ICT system. The chief constable is accessible to officers and staff, and listens to their experiences and suggestions at formal workshops and during impromptu visits. The force encourages feedback, and this has led to the reinstatement of the role of support officers for victims of rape. The chief constable has identified the need to invest in the wellbeing of the workforce and has nominated a chief superintendent to make this a priority.

There is an emphasis placed on business leads understanding business benefits. The force encourages leaders to remove obstacles that hinder performance to make sure that benefits can be achieved and the force is run effectively. For example, the strategic lead for safeguarding reinstated email referrals to the MASH because Athena was not doing this effectively. This was necessary to overcome backlogs and maintain a good standard of timely information sharing with partner organisations. A review of how the force deploys to reports of domestic abuse led to a substantial increase in those graded as needing an emergency response. This means that the force takes a ‘right first time’ approach and doesn’t suppress demand.

Long-standing and effective partnership arrangements help the force manage demand and improve efficiency. A strategic demand assessment (SDA) has enabled it to analyse the effect of this demand across all its services. It also highlighted opportunities for efficiency through the joint use of estates, specialist equipment and training.

The force has also identified demand that would be better dealt with by other agencies. It reports that an evaluation of Operation Farmington saved almost £80,000 of officer time in just six months. It plans to offer the most frequent callers with mental health issues a multi-agency mentoring programme designed to help them become more resilient. This should help it meet other priorities, such as improving its response times to reports of domestic abuse.

The force encourages officers and staff to seek better ways of working and supports research through academia, national groups and the College of Policing. We found good evidence of this during our inspection, such as the improvement in crime allocation and management of risk in the demand hub, which, in turn, improves the service to vulnerable victims.

Working with others to meet demand

Opportunities to work with media and television broadcasters help the force to raise public awareness of the demands and issues it faces. A recent example is its involvement in a TV documentary that reported on drugs activity and the exploitation of vulnerable people. County lines and cuckooing are national problems that the force has been keen to address through increasing awareness. This helps the public recognise how vulnerable members of their own communities are prone
to exploitation.

The force shares good practice nationally. A specific example is the work it carried out to highlight the exploitation of sex workers through adult websites and bring the offenders to justice. The force states that experts believe these websites are one of the most significant enablers of sexual exploitation, which accounts for just under half of all exploitation occurring via modern slavery and human trafficking. The force has a good track record for innovation in tackling these offences. It makes effective use of its links with ERSOU, which reports that, in June 2018, 136 modern slavery and human trafficking operations took place across the eastern region. The force is proactive in addressing this. It reports that its officers submitted more than 300 intelligence reports that year relating to concerns about modern slavery.

The force takes a leading role in many partnerships. The PCC sits on the strategic public service board and chairs the county-wide community safety partnership, which includes local authority and NHS leads. These relationships have helped clarify the financial challenges faced by all partner organisations and make sure that pressures don’t adversely affect one service. The PCC has an ambition to locate multi-agency community teams, rather than just community policing teams, across districts.

Innovation and new opportunities

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has a culture that encourages and supports officers and staff to seek improvements through academic excellence. The findings of various research programmes has informed national approaches, such as using the Cambridge Harm Index to identify concentrations of crime around prolific offenders. This has helped to justify why police forces in the UK need to adopt more analytical approaches. It is now used in the force briefing and tasking process. Officers and staff are also working with universities to examine improvements in recruitment and responses to domestic abuse.

The force has made both internal and external improvements via two working groups called the 100 Club. The internally focused group has improved the resilience and working environments of officers and staff. The externally focused group has helped the force review the effectiveness of third-party hate crime reporting. These insights give the force access to a more reliable account of the scale of hate crime, so it can determine future steps to make reporting easier.

Investment and benefits

Senior leaders take a long-term approach to business planning. The force is meeting the challenge to better understand current and future demand by investing in officers and staff to realise the benefits of Athena. It expects that once the system is more established, it will be able to deploy these officers and staff elsewhere. However, this work doesn’t currently have a clear timescale and the force isn’t yet in a position to understand how effective this investment will be.

The force carries out some evaluation of business benefits within departments such as finance and in major projects. But chief officers acknowledge that there is a gap in its ability to evaluate business benefits expertly and routinely. The force has highlighted this gap in its FMS. It will consider this when making improvements to its corporate development department.

The force has simplified its structure, reducing from six districts to two policing areas. This has helped it establish and allocate demand more clearly. Senior leaders monitor demand through the daily management meeting. The new structure allows leaders to move resource to meet identified spikes in demand more effectively.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary benefits from having 218 members of the Special Constabulary. The force reports that approximately 65 percent of these volunteer officers have together contributed over 38,000 hours of policing support during the year 2018/19. This includes effective use of some specialist skills, including cyber expertise. This investment is maximised by the force, as 25 percent of Special Constables go on to join the force as regular officers.

Prioritising different types of demand

The LPR provided a sophisticated understanding of the resources Cambridgeshire Constabulary needs to be able to prioritise an approach that safeguards vulnerable people and tackles criminality. It has worked hard to match its resources to the types of demand that represent the greatest risk to the public. The extensive investment in services provided through the demand hub ensures that the force assesses all demand and provides proportionate but considered responses. It has built in effective monitoring and quality assurance stages to escalate the response if risks change.

The new force structure provides enough capacity for a dedicated training day once every five weeks. The force rarely needs to abstract officers to cover other positions outside their primary role. However, neighbourhood sergeants often have to cover gaps in custody sergeant positions. It isn’t clear whether the force monitors these abstractions for frequency and effect.

Assigning resources to demand and understanding their costs

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has an up-to-date understanding of the costs of its services. The LPR shows that it can achieve savings through an optimum model that meets demand. This has provided it with a stable structure on which it has modelled future demand projections.

The force has a good understanding of cost pressures. Officer recruitment takes account of the necessary abstraction of new recruits due to the police education qualification framework (PEQF), which comes into effect from June 2020. The extended training requirements mean the force won’t realise the full effect of these unprecedented recruitment levels for three years. However, the efficiencies created through the tri-force collaboration with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary extend to the joint procurement of a PEQF training provider.

The force SDA is used to anticipate workforce planning needs. This comprehensively considers current and future demands on all areas of business. The 2018 assessment identified a critical risk with regard to capacity in the force’s covert authorities bureau. It has now addressed this through additional resources. Operationally, it is set up to cope with multiple demands and joint working arrangements through BCH collaboration. This means it is quickly able to access additional support at times of extraordinary demand, even in specialist departments such as CAISU.

Productivity and making good use of resources

The BCH HR department provides administrative services across the three forces. It has extended workforce plans from one to four years. The initial focus is on succession planning for critical leadership posts, which helps the force to plan for retirements over the next three to five years. A succession-planning toolkit is helping managers identify critical posts, roles and skills. New HR software due in September 2019 will improve self-service functions.

As part of the LPR, the force carried out a complete audit of skills across the previous complex structure of 173 teams. It recorded the results on HR systems to establish where there were gaps and allocate resources against an optimum model. This means it can make better use of officers’ generalist skills, but also retain their specialist skills where required.

Workforce capabilities

The prudent nature of police budgeting means that training courses have to be booked on reliable forecasts of demand. The SDA informs BCH schedules for training, which the three forces have planned to meet those forecasted demands. However, higher than anticipated levels of recruitment across all three forces was challenging Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s ability to secure enough driver training courses for new officers who can respond to emergencies. This is now being addressed by the force.

Investigative capacity is good, and the force doesn’t suffer the difficulties in detective resilience that many forces do. The force states it has 20 vacant detective posts in an establishment of 265, and its effective detective training programme has improved the pass rate of applicants. Talent management programmes are now fully open to all and the workforce considers it has good access to academic opportunities.

More efficient ways of working

Chief officers acknowledge that the force doesn’t routinely record its activity well, particularly when considering major change. It currently commissions change management expertise for specific projects such as the LPR through agency recruitment. It relies on business and departmental leads to represent its interests in local and collaborated change projects. This is because it doesn’t have a dedicated change management resource. It also has no business benefits analysis expertise to draw on, which affects its ability to measure and realise benefits from change. It has acknowledged these issues and plans to develop continuous improvement capacity within its corporate development department.

In December 2018, the force published a review following the implementation and evaluation of its LPR. It reports that this saved it £3.1 million, increased frontline resources and reshaped demand management to prioritise high-risk incidents and the needs of vulnerable people. However, it accepted feedback that it still has work to do to improve follow-up with victims and improve perceptions of visibility. It went on to commission Social Change UK to conduct a baseline assessment of its visibility within the community. This has helped it establish opportunities to improve communication and reassure rural communities.

Working with others

Cambridgeshire Constabulary works well with others. It has a long-standing commitment to co-operation and collaboration with other forces, emergency services and organisations to realise efficiencies and provide the best service for the public. The chief constable commits 25 percent of the budget to the tri-force BCH collaboration. This mature collaboration brings significant benefits through a range of shared services, including HR, information management, ICT and specialist armed capabilities. Its enduring and progressive nature also continues to result in more efficient ways of working. The joint procurement of a PEQF provider is a recent example of this.

Broader joint working arrangements take place through the seven-force eastern region collaboration. This has moved beyond finding economies of scale in support departments such as procurement. Future opportunities are set to enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness in areas such as armed policing and training.

As a leading partner organisation in the MASH, the force continues to identify opportunities to make improvements that progress its priorities. It has commissioned Social Change UK to carry out qualitative research with 11 to 16-year-olds and their parents in Cambridgeshire to explore their understanding of child sexual exploitation. Its report was used to help the force produce a public video to raise awareness and encourage reporting of these crimes.

Using technology

The force has made good investments in technology, helping it to operate more efficiently and enhance its investigative capability. Frontline teams have personal mobile devices that allow them to carry out a comprehensive range of tasks at the scene of an incident. Photographs and statements can be uploaded remotely, which means officers don’t have to return to the station to carry out administrative tasks. They also have access to an application that helps them identify fraud and access specialist guidance on matters such as cryptocurrency. The force has trained 30 officers to download evidence from seized devices in remote kiosks. However, downloads aren’t automated or linked to force systems, which leads to some duplication of effort when evidence is found.

The force has a strong understanding of the factors that influence reporting. It has used social media to increase public awareness of force priorities and campaigns. The chief constable and PCC held a series of community-based consultation events that were live-streamed, reaching an audience of 38,000 people. The force is also set up to receive digital evidence, such as dash-cam footage, from members of the public.

In June 2018, Cambridgeshire Constabulary merged its ICT department into the shared services it has as part of its tri-force BCH collaboration. There is also a shared BCH digital strategy. The department’s performance is monitored against key performance indicators. This requires it to explore and provide a range of new technologies, which includes making increasing use of cloud-based services.

The force reports that the implementation of Athena presents new opportunities to improve its analytical capability. It states that new ICT systems within HR will create efficiencies through self-service activities such as occupational health referrals.

Summary for question 1

How well does the force plan for the future?


Areas for improvement

  • The force should make sure that future recruitment and staff development are supported by a functional and adequately resourced human resources team.
  • The force should develop a comprehensive skills strategy to identify what future capabilities its workforce will need.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.

Assessing future demand for services

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has a sophisticated, comprehensive and up-to-date understanding of demand. It uses commercial demand analysis software as well as its own bespoke analysis tools developed with healthcare partner organisations. Together with the PCC, the force is exploring new partnership-based approaches to tackling crime. The PCC now chairs the county-wide community safety strategic board. This board has introduced a system-wide public health approach to reducing crime, which is positive practice. This approach embraces:

  • Primary prevention, to stop problems starting in the first place – work streams including health, safer schools and ‘think’ communities to develop resilience and capacity.
  • Secondary prevention, to stop problems escalating – through innovation funds, the force was an early adopter of the new approach to conditional cautions and has strengthened pathways to housing and employment for offenders; it has an active youth offending board, drug and alcohol partnerships and a mental health concordat; and early help hubs are in place, led by the local authorities.
  • Tertiary prevention, to ensure an effective partnership response to high-risk issues such as county lines criminality and serious organised crime.

This means the force is in a good position to assess and predict likely future changes in demand. It is using this purposefully, to plan for the investment that will be needed to meet those demands.

In 2017, the force reviewed the way it provides policing services. It developed and implemented a new operating model for local policing that better aligns demand with future needs and the resources available. It has carried out work to understand the scale and nature of the county’s demographic and population changes. Its population is set to rise by 25 percent in the next decade. The PCC and chief officers work with public service partner organisations and social research experts to develop a clear understanding of the effect this will have on public services. The force uses predictive modelling to consider a range of likely scenarios to inform future predictions.

The force has worked hard, even throughout periods of financial challenge, to maintain a strong and visible local policing presence. It is also making good use of technology – such as mobile data and handheld devices – to help officers use their time more productively. Its SDA helps it understand where its greatest risks lie in meeting future demand. It then mitigates these by aligning its resources to meet that demand and the priorities it sets.

Understanding public expectations

A comprehensive community engagement strategy sets out how the force involves the public to understand their expectations. The force used social media and held community consultations to seek the views and feedback of its partner organisations and diverse communities in shaping the new policing model. In response, the force retained its enquiry offices, and the LPR model shaped policing services to meet the needs of neighbourhoods, rather than neighbourhood policing being a standalone function. The force published a formal evaluation and the PCC and chief constable carried out community engagement on outcomes and future plans. This was live-streamed via the internet. It is now acting to improve perceptions of visibility because of that consultation.

The force has a thorough demand management strategy. It brought in consultants for the LPR, and purchased demand analysis software and trained its workforce to use these tools. It uses this capability to prepare its FMS, which also sets out a sophisticated way to allocate resources according to risk and priority. For example, the 2018 SDA identified the most significant demand risk as being in the covert authorities bureau. The force then completed a baseline assessment of demand within the bureau, established the required capacity and capability, and factored changes into financial planning.

The force sees the LPR as an evolution and continues to work in specific areas to make further improvements. It monitors domestic abuse victim feedback and has consequently made changes to service provision. It looks for ways to encourage digital access to its services. It continues to work hard to realise the benefits of its investment in Athena. It uses demand management technology well, as it strives to improve incident deployment. It has an informative website and will be one of the later forces to adopt Single Online Home.


The LPR provided the force with an affordable and scalable plan that helped it prioritise how it used its resources through a one-team approach. This simplified a previously complex, layered and territorial approach. It means the force is more likely to have the right resource with the right skills to meet force and local priorities.

It uses an effective suite of monitoring tools to systematically monitor and assess demand. It displays the results of this in a matrix. This enables the force to assess the areas in its communities where demand and harm is greater, as well as understanding its current capacity to respond effectively. This means it can establish those areas where its ability to meet demand needs additional resources or development. The 2019 FMS has identified continuous improvement capacity within its corporate development department as its highest risk. The force is now addressing this identified risk. It plans to invest the extra income it will receive from the council tax precept and grant in increasing police officer numbers, primarily in frontline positions. This will help it meet future demand and public expectations.

Future workforce

Cambridgeshire Constabulary actively continues to recruit to meet the optimum numbers of officers and staff to achieve its well-researched policing model. It has aligned its planned 2019/20 workforce increase to meet the priorities of the PCC’s police and crime plan. However, it doesn’t yet have enough understanding of, or plans for, its future workforce skills and capabilities. This is primarily because it prioritised the recent LPR audit of existing workforce skills. Delays in the procurement of new HR software have also hindered any meaningful progress in achieving a coherent plan. Current processes require departmental leads to project annual workforce requirements into the workforce governance board. But not all departmental leads do this, which is inefficient and creates additional stress on limited HR resources.

Changes to student officer development created by PEQF have led to some uncertainty with respect to practical requirements, such as the levels of tutor constable support and the amount of abstractions required for the new officers to complete the qualification. Police officer establishment in the force is set to increase to 1,496 by 31 March 2020, with the recruitment of 135 officers during 2019/20. However, there has been a big reduction in PCSO posts, from 126 in 2018/19 to 80 in 2019/20. These numbers have reduced through officers leaving and not being replaced, but the force has meaningfully deployed the remaining PCSOs in neighbourhood policing roles.

The force reports that it isn’t currently under-resourced in HR, owing to apprenticeships and agency working. However, it should consider that its plans for achieving continuous improvement and greater efficiency are likely to rely on professional HR support, of which there is insufficient capacity.

Finance plans

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has a strong track record in sound and rigorous financial planning. It provides good value for money and costs £156 per head of population, compared with the national average of £192.

The force has built its medium-term financial plans on prudent assumptions about known cost pressures. In 2019/20, it states that it will receive £10.8 million more funding than the previous year. This is from a central government grant of £1.5 million, a council tax precept increase of £7.9 million and a grant needed to fund the police pension scheme of £1.4 million. However, extra cost pressures – including additional recruitment, inflation and increases in demand – considerably reduce the benefits of this increased funding.

Despite the additional income, force data shows that it faces a budget gap of £7.4 million over the medium term to 2023. The medium-term financial plan contains a savings plan to bridge the current funding gap over the four-year period with some reliance on general reserves. These savings have been projected through the LPR efficiencies, estate and collaboration opportunities. The force reports it has already found almost £3.5 million of this as part of the 2019/20 budget-setting process. It will make use of its reserves to bridge the remaining funding gaps up to 2021, after which it will develop further plans to remove its reliance on reserves in future years. We consider that the force is on track to achieve the total savings planned.

The FMS identifies the aims of the force’s capital programme. This focuses on the renewal of the force’s estate and how it can use this to generate funding in the future. By 2020/21, it will have used up all the money it received from the sale of surplus estate by investing in capital projects. After this, it will have to finance all capital spending through external borrowing, which adds additional burden to the annual revenue budget to service the interest repayments.

Leadership and workforce development

In our 2017 inspection, we identified understanding of leadership skills and development as areas for improvement. The force has made some progress to date. But it still doesn’t have a structured plan that links the many opportunities for development that it does provide. It is now introducing efficient HR software to help meet these needs.

The appointment of the chief constable in 2018 and deputy chief constable in 2019 has diversified the senior leadership team in terms of expertise in local policing, partnerships and business planning. To develop future leadership capacity, the force has partnered with the University of Cambridge to prepare talented officers for senior leadership positions as part of a three-year programme. This includes academic study and senior mentoring to evidence competence for senior leadership positions. The force has built upon this relationship and is looking at options to develop a new fast-track recruitment programme that it will use in 2020 to further enhance the national direct entry scheme. This will allow the force to target recruitment at elite universities as well as its own workforce.

The force is considering how it can make further use of the national apprenticeship levy, but we couldn’t find evidence of it carrying out any predictive analysis of longer-term future requirements. It has undertaken capability assessments for chief inspector rank and above, and the police staff equivalent, and achieved a return rate of 75 percent. Plans to survey the wider workforce were in progress when our fieldwork was completed. We now expect it to consolidate this assessment of workforce skills and capacity to predict future needs.

Officers and staff are generally positive about the opportunities available to them through secondments and lateral development. To develop the potential of the wider workforce, the force provides the personnel programmes ‘Be You’ and ‘Further You’, which are tailored to the needs of the individual. This improves development opportunities for those who may be under-represented in certain roles. The force is revising personal development reviews (PDRs) under the banner ‘My Conversation’. This approach recognises that professional development is a natural and gradual process through a series of conversations and not a tokenistic annual event. ‘My Conversation’ also provides a route to promotion. A mentoring programme is available to all officers and staff. It sets consistent standards in further supporting them on a one-to-one basis.

The force has taken positive steps to embrace the full range of routes into the service. As well as a fast-track detective programme, the force makes good use of interns and has new officers that follow the police apprenticeship scheme. It also makes good use of television broadcast opportunities to inform the public and broaden its appeal to potential recruits.

Ambition to improve

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has a strong track record in police-to-police collaboration through its tri-force strategic alliance with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary. This accounts for 25 percent of its budget. This is a long-established arrangement that provides shared operational and back-office functions, saving money and adding resilience to each force involved. It is now developing further collaborative approaches with the wider seven-force alliance across all forces in the eastern region.

The two significant change programmes that the force successfully implemented within weeks of each other clearly show it is able to effectively plan and manage change. We consider that the LPR was well led, managed effectively and delivered on time ahead of Athena going live. The force also worked hard to minimise the disruption of implementing Athena shortly thereafter and continues to work to influence future improvements that will benefit frontline officers.

It is also showing ambition to continue to improve its efficiency and make savings to reinvest in priority areas. Of the £3.5 million savings it says it requires, the force has already found £1.8 million and is confident it can achieve the remaining amount. It maintains pressure to remove inefficiencies and reduce costs, but also has the financial agility to mitigate risks within its operational functions. It demonstrated this in the LPR evaluation and in the revision to the required savings required from its joint protective services. Joint protective services (JPS) is a shared service of 901 staff committed by Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary. JPS provides a range of operational and specialist capabilities including armed policing, dog support, scientific services, major crime and roads policing.

Summary for question 2