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Cumbria PEEL 2018


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

Last updated 02/05/2019

Cumbria Constabulary is good in the efficient way it operates and provides sustainable services to the public.

The constabulary forecasts future changes with detailed demand analysis. Public engagement informs its plans and how it allocates resources.

It now understands what skills it needs to meet future demand. So, it is changing its workforce mix.

Police and partner organisations work together in local focus hubs to resolve community problems. This will reduce long-term demand. Additional officers deal proactively with people who are harming communities.

The constabulary recognises the importance of ICT in the future. It has allocated enough funds to meet its needs. A new system to match skills to demand will help it manage resources better.

A new workforce development programme is helping the constabulary develop talented people and future leaders.

The constabulary has robust financial plans with scenario planning for several possibilities. These are subject to external scrutiny.

An overarching change programme, Cumbria Vision 25, brings together departmental change programmes. So there is a co-ordinated approach to preparing for the future. The constabulary has improved its processes to realise the expected benefits of change. It has good collaborative arrangements with police partners. It is making progress with an ambitious blue light collaboration.

In 2017 we judged Cumbria Constabulary as being good at meeting current demands and using resources.

Questions for Efficiency


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


This question was not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2017 efficiency inspection has been carried over.


How well does the force plan for the future?


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

Assessing future demand for services

Cumbria Constabulary uses a range of procedures to analyse current and future demand for its services. Crime levels, as well as 999 and 101 call demand, have been forecast through to 2022.

The constabulary carries out ‘understanding demand’ reviews each year. It has used these to forecast how many officers it will need in any specific area at any time over the next two years. The understanding demand review 2018 included in-depth analysis of 506 incidents reported to the control room. The review identified all activity linked to those reports. The review also analysed each crime type to identify areas where demand is likely to increase in the future. These areas include cyber-crime and crimes committed against vulnerable adults. The constabulary uses this information to determine the resources and skills it will need in the future to deal with specific tasks.

The constabulary has examined the role of its supervisors. It carried out a ‘day-in-the-life’ review of sergeants to determine how efficiently and effectively they are working and what additional skills they will need for the future.

Cumbria Constabulary has recently completed a review of demand relating to serious and complex crime. This is informing the number of detective and other specialist officers needed over the next two years.

The demand reviews and day-in-the-life activity analysis has helped the constabulary to recognise the work done by officers and staff that cannot be deduced from analysing performance data such as incident and crime reports. Understanding this hidden and emerging demand lets the constabulary predict more accurately the resources it needs in each area.

We found that the constabulary has already started to change its workforce mix to meet the future demands on its services.

The local focus hubs are an example of how police and its public service partners work together to reduce vulnerability and prevent crime. The constabulary is developing a performance framework to make sure it understands the demand for its prevention and problem-solving work. This framework will help it quickly identify and respond to any new demand streams. The constabulary has recruited an additional 25 officers this year. They will work in a proactive local policing role to support the work of the hubs.

In response to a forecast doubling of cyber-crime in the next four years, the constabulary is evaluating future resource needs. The understanding demand review found that crime scene examiners were attending fewer crime scenes. As an interim measure to reduce the gap in cyber-crime skills, the constabulary trained these examiners in digital examination of smartphones.

The constabulary has assigned £15.6m in its capital programme for ICT schemes. These include:

  • developing digital public contact channels, to give more ways for the public to contact and report to police;
  • digitalisation of criminal justice processes to improve how case files are prepared and shared with Her Majesty’s Court Service and other criminal justice partners; and
  • rationalisation of command and control systems to improve the ICT infrastructure.

Cumbria Constabulary has already made a significant investment in its mobile working programme. It has supplied 1,500 handheld smart devices and 850 laptops to officers and staff. This means police information is available immediately. This has reduced the amount of travelling time to and from police stations. Given the rural geography of Cumbria, this is realising significant benefits. The capital programme includes Windows 10 upgrades for the mobility programme.

The constabulary has invested in a new IT system which draws together data and business information from several of the constabulary’s databases. This is set to enable more effective analysis and accurate planning. This will include four-year forecasts on incidents and crimes matched with plans for relevant new skills requirements. The new system is not yet fully functional. But it is expected to improve further how the constabulary manages its resources and predicts its future needs to meet demand.

Understanding public expectations

Cumbria Constabulary uses several methods to engage with the public and understand their expectations. These include annual public surveys, police and crime commissioner (PCC) force priority-setting arrangements and local neighbourhood engagement processes. Each of the 15 local policing areas has an engagement plan. The constabulary uses this consultation to inform future plans. For example, the PCC consulted the public about using a precept increase to fund additional officers; as a result the constabulary recruited 25 extra officers to work in local policing. The work of these officers is specifically linked to public priorities relating to neighbourhood problems and anti-social behaviour.

Within the local focus hubs, the constabulary and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) are working on a project called ‘Connected Communities’. Citizens in policing initiatives, such as cadets and the mini-police scheme, gather information from the public. The information is used to focus on particular community areas, test residents’ views and thoughts and gauge community feeling. UCLan analyses the results to provide a detailed understanding of local problems and the opportunity to develop bespoke solutions. This is still in its early stages, but we look forward to seeing how it progresses.

Improving digital access to police services by the public is an important element of how the constabulary plans to provide future services. It is incorporated within the change plan, Cumbria Vision 25. The aim of the strategy is to provide digital services that are accessible, relevant and easy to use for the public. The constabulary aims to:

  • let the public record and track incidents and crimes online;
  • give self-help options; and
  • help the public find and access appropriate partner organisations for support.

It also plans to expand social media services to warn, inform and engage with the public. It will eventually develop a Cumbria community messaging service.


The constabulary is good at using its understanding of public expectations to create a richer picture of its current and future demand. It works in conjunction with the office of the PCC to gain a better understanding of what the public want from police services. The expectations of the public are clearly reflected in the PCC’s police and crime plan 2016–20.

The constabulary has designed its own change plan, known as Cumbria Vision 25, to help it achieve these priorities as well as ensure the constabulary is equipped for the future:

  • local policing;
  • workforce;
  • specialist capabilities;
  • business support; and
  • digital policing.

The constabulary has a robust and effective governance framework which oversees each of the five elements of Cumbria Vision 25.

Future workforce

Cumbria Constabulary has reviewed its current capability to respond to demand and evaluated its future workforce requirements based on anticipated changes in demand. It has completed its understanding crime review, which has given senior leaders a good understanding of the demand in both the crime and safeguarding teams and throughout territorial policing. This work has informed the future resource allocation process. Workforce planning is based on sound evidence.

The constabulary acknowledges that existing ICT systems do not communicate easily with one another, and don’t make it easy to recognise current and future capability gaps. The new performance information IT system offers the potential to improve the quality of business information on which to base workforce plans. In the meantime, clear workforce governance arrangements at district and constabulary-level are still able to identify capability gaps. For example, the constabulary is predicting the doubling of cyber-crime offences over the next four years and workforce plans have been adapted to increase the right level of specialist resources available. The constabulary is working with local organisations such as Sellafield Ltd to explore opportunities to increase its digital media investigation capacity.

Cumbria Constabulary, in common with many other forces, is finding it difficult to increase detective numbers and is exploring ways to increase recruitment. The constabulary has retained several retired detective officers on short-term contracts to help with major crime investigation and local investigations with the crime and safeguarding teams. Through its detective resilience action plan, the constabulary is working to both increase and make the best use of its investigative resources. The plan aims to create additional capacity to deal with anticipated increases in crimes such as child sexual exploitation and cyber-crime.

The constabulary is using fast-track promotion processes to nurture and develop talent, and has one sergeant and two inspectors on the scheme. It has joined the College of Policing’s direct entry programme to recruit senior leaders. In the next 12 months, two people are joining the constabulary from outside policing directly into inspector ranks. This means it can actively develop a more diverse pool of talent as leaders of the future.

There are plans to increase the pool of suitable candidates for the special constabulary by introducing distance learning. The constabulary is varying the training to be more specific to the roles it needs people to perform. It is working to match skills to each role. For example, a special constable who is an ICT professional is deployed within the digital media investigation unit, to make the best use of their skills. Similarly, another special constable who has particularly relevant skills is undertaking offender management work. The constabulary is also exploring how best to recruit and use volunteers. It has set up a new web page to record what people can offer in terms of skills and experience. The constabulary will use this information to match volunteers with suitable roles. However, this was not a consistent picture throughout the organisation. Some police staff felt that the constabulary did not always know about or make best use of the skills that they had acquired outside their main role. A more comprehensive audit of police officer and staff skills could offer opportunities to make better use of the entire workforce.

Finance plans

The constabulary’s financial planning is closely aligned with the Cumbria Vision 25 change plan and workforce and ICT plans. Our inspection confirmed that senior leaders are well-engaged in financial planning and oversight and understand the financial challenges and the need to align resource planning with the change programme.

The constabulary has a good record of achieving savings and has plans to make a further £4.8m of savings by 2021/22. However, there is still an expected outstanding budget gap of £1.2m by this date. The constabulary is working towards making these additional savings from its investments in change. In particular, these investments are in ICT infrastructure and the future workforce mix. At the time of the inspection the constabulary’s medium-term financial forecast contained assumptions of a precept increase of 5.92 percent for 2019/20. The constabulary will link such an increase with a pledge like that for the additional 25 officers for local policing, which it fulfilled in 2018/19. Beyond 2019/20, assumptions about funding were prudent. This assumed that government funding would stay static and precept increases would be limited to 1.95 percent.

Cumbria Constabulary maintains a reserves strategy that covers a ten-year period through to 2028 and mirrors the capital strategy. During this period, it is set to maintain a £3m general reserve (3 percent of the net revenue budget). The constabulary also keeps a budget utilisation reserve to smooth intermittent costs and includes a chief constable contingency reserve. The budget utilisation reserve is replenished through the next budget cycle.

The constabulary also maintains earmarked capital reserves set aside for capital schemes. The capital reserves are shown as £12.8m as at March 2018 and are forecast to be fully used by March 2022. The capital programme is ambitious. It has been designed to provide the constabulary with the estate and ICT infrastructure it needs through to 2025 and beyond. Over the next three years the capital programmes will receive £27.3m of investment. This includes £7.8m investment into the estates programme to build a new deployment centre and consideration of a territorial policing headquarters in West Cumbria.

The constabulary will invest £13.8m in ICT programmes. These include:

  • a new command and control system;
  • the new crime management system;
  • the digital policing project; and
  • implementation of the emergency services network to replace existing police radios.

The constabulary is not planning to rely on borrowing to fund this capital expenditure. It will use a combination of reserves, capital grants, revenue funding and £1.94m of capital receipts.

Following its 2010 consultation about revaluing public-sector pensions, the government announced, in 2016 and 2018, reductions in the discount rate it uses to set contribution rates for the unfunded public service pension schemes. These include the police service pension scheme. A lower discount rate will result in higher contribution rates for the employer. The official notification of a lower rate in September 2018 did not allow PCCs time to include the effect of this in their financial planning. In December 2018, the government announced a pension grant for 2019/20 for each PCC. It allocated funding to each force to specifically help the police pay for these increased costs in the next year. PCCs must now plan for how they will finance the increased costs in the following years, assessing the effect on their officer numbers and their ability to provide effective and efficient services.

Leadership and workforce development

Cumbria Constabulary has a promotion plan in place but no formal leadership development programme. A benefit of being a smaller constabulary (in terms of workforce numbers) is that it knows when people are due to leave. As a result, it can plan accordingly, so that skills are developed and available to replace those of leavers and retirees. The constabulary is exploring a more formal leadership development scheme and is reviewing a scheme operating in the City of London.

In July 2018 the constabulary introduced its new workforce development programme called Your Career, Your Future. The emphasis is on people taking responsibility for their own careers and accessing organisational support to achieve their aspirations. It requires supervisors having one-to-one meetings with their staff every 15 weeks. All supervisors are receiving training in holding ‘strengths-based conversations’. The conversation is intended to be collaborative and supportive, to identify what is working well and which areas need to improve, using tried and tested coaching techniques. The 15-week review links into the performance review process. All information is held on one central system, so the constabulary can spot trends and problems. However, despite the good intentions we found little awareness of the new scheme among the workforce. The constabulary has deliberately undertaken a ‘soft launch’ of Your Career, Your Future, so that it grows alongside the strengths-based conversations.

The constabulary advertises specific development opportunities for staff. We found a view among the workforce that senior leaders are committed to creating development opportunities for staff. But some felt the current financial climate made it harder for line managers to release staff from their main function for such opportunities.

In addition to the fast-track scheme, the constabulary has revised its recruitment and selection process so that it is more inclusive. There is a clearer application form and an interview process that is more focused on the individual and their skills.

The constabulary has changed its training provision for officers who transfer from other police forces. This has allowed the constabulary to accept transferees from Police Scotland and to deploy them sooner. Similarly, there is a streamlined training programme for graduate recruits who were previously special constables. This means they can be deployed after just three weeks of training.

Ambition to improve

The Cumbria Vision 25 plan is ambitious and provides a clear view of where the constabulary wants to be in the future. To manage the change and enable the vision to become a reality, the constabulary has drawn together all programmes of improvement activity under one overarching programme of work, known as the ‘roadmap for 2025’. This was published in June 2018.

Some programmes of work that were already in progress have been absorbed into the roadmap. These include the roll-out of the local focus hubs and the continuing improvement of mobile data technology and devices to equip an agile and responsive workforce.

Some large ICT infrastructure programmes, including the introduction of the crime management IT platform and the new command and control system, are progressing well. The constabulary expects to complete these by summer 2019. Other elements of the change programme are at an earlier stage of development. These include future digitalisation of public contact and the leadership development work.

The constabulary’s approach to change is to conduct reviews, such as that of local policing, and then to trial options. For example, the Copeland Hub was a pilot for local focus hubs. The constabulary evaluated it before committing itself to full implementation.

Following a review of crime investigation, the constabulary brought together CID teams and safeguarding teams in Carlisle to form the first of its crime and safeguarding teams. This has proved successful in increasing detective capacity and has been implemented throughout the constabulary. The detective resilience review has taken this work a stage further to enable better planning to ensure it has the right people with the right detective skills to tackle the changing nature of crimes such as child sexual exploitation and cyber-crime.

The business improvement unit provides effective challenge to planning and evaluating service provision. It gives more internal audit capability for the constabulary. This means that the constabulary can be reassured that its plans are robust.

The constabulary has a well-established training collaboration with Lancashire Constabulary and with Durham Constabulary for the intelligence IT platform. The constabulary works with a range of public services partners at strategic and tactical levels. For example, the local focus hubs include staff from local councils, housing, NHS and local charities. The constabulary has entered into an ambitious blue light collaboration with Cumbria Fire and Rescue service. This is still in its early stages.

Cumbria Constabulary has a clear understanding of its financial, workforce, service and demand requirements over the next three years. It has sound plans in place to achieve its objectives. A well-considered approach to change management and benefits realisation puts the constabulary in a strong position to meet its future challenges.

Summary for question 2