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Kent PEEL 2018


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

Last updated 02/05/2019

Kent Police operates efficiently and provides services that it can maintain in the long term.

The force is outstanding at future planning. It understands how demand is likely to change. It uses a range of data and works closely with partner organisations to do this.

Kent Police communicates really well with the public. The force understands what matters to people. It knows what skills it needs to provide a good service.

The force has a good financial and people plan. It is good at identifying and supporting future leaders. In 2017, we judged Kent Police as outstanding 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 force’s performance in this area.

Assessing future demand for services

Kent Police has a proven record in predicting future demand. It uses technology and a wide range of data effectively to understand trends in demand. It can predict likely future demand and past forecasts have been accurate. The force is conducting analysis in respect of population and housing growth and the expected call volumes this will create. It has also analysed the likely effect of technology on demand. In Kent, 11 percent of total crime is reported through online services and this is predicted to increase. The force undertook a wide-ranging review of its operating model in 2017 and it continues to review and assess this work based on its predictions for changes in demand. Areas currently under review include the force control room, the POLIT, and the force’s response to Brexit. The force continues to work with academia, such as Canterbury University, to increase its understanding of future demand and how best to manage it. It consults the public regularly to understand their changing needs.

Kent Police invests in ‘spend to save’ projects as part of its change programme. It is good at tracking the benefits of its work. Examples include the £0.5m spent to increase reporting online and the £4.9m spent on providing frontline officers with mobile devices. The force’s use of reserves strikes a good balance between contingency funds for operational emergencies and supporting change in the force. Over the course of the medium-term financial plan (MTFP) between £0.6m and £1.5m will be set aside for ‘spend to save’ schemes. A further £4m is budgeted for the forthcoming two years of the MTFP to fund relocations and redundancies, to support the future ambitions of the force control room and call-taking services.

The force has identified and quantified emerging demand and hidden demand in its analysis of future needs. It has invested in an anti-slavery partnership co-ordinator who has given training to frontline officers and staff. It has also engaged with partners and principal interested parties to ensure a co-ordinated approach throughout all organisations. It continues to work closely with local authorities and health agencies to gather and analyse data, helping it to assess where harm is concentrated and what forms of exploitation exist in local communities.

Understanding public expectations

The force communicates exceptionally well with the public. It understands what its public wants, and how public expectations are changing. It undertakes a public survey every year and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner conducts public surveys as part of its yearly planning cycle. This is the ‘what matters to you survey’, which covers 25 crime types and other issues such as anti-social behaviour. A survey of those using the online crime-reporting tool showed that 44 percent of respondents had phoned the 101 number and, while waiting, had stopped the call as they heard the information provided to waiting callers that online crime-recording was available.

The force engages with the public to inform its plans and adapt its services appropriately. For example, during the evaluating and planning phase of its new operating model (New Horizon), the force engaged with more than 100 communities, and held 40 focus groups, with up to 200 people attending each meeting or engaging online. It consulted these groups again after bringing in New Horizon, both to explain the final version of the operating model and to reassess the public’s expectations. This consultation led to the force keeping 300 PCSOs and introducing schools’ officers, as this was what the public told them was important. The force also engaged with an extensive range of partners and interested parties, finishing in an event attended by more than 50 partner organisations.

As a direct response to this work, the chief constable and the PCC used force reserves and an increase in the council tax precept to redirect 100 officers and 80 staff to posts within local policing. These included: response roles; investigation (specifically to tackle increases in crime including domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation, rape, hate crime and serious violence); and mental health (to tackle increases in demand). The force also deployed officers to increase visibility and engagement within rural communities and to road safety activities to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on Kent roads.

The force understands the skills and capabilities it needs to respond to the needs of the public. Procedures are in place to ensure that the force distributes the skills, experience and capabilities of the workforce in accordance with demands and needs. The force’s resource allocation model supports the deployment of officers and staff around the force. This provides accurate forecasting of resourcing levels, including factors such as maternity absence. It can also calculate resourcing needs based on the work required for certain investigations such as rape. The force control room is a good example of how the force has prioritised resources. It has made more money available to pay for additional staff hours to improve the 101 service. In 2017, the force was recording a 101-abandonment rate of over 18 percent. By permanently posting an additional 50 staff to the control room, and by rewarding current staff for working anti-social and additional hours at peak times, the force has reduced the abandonment rate to about 7 percent. This means that the public are more likely to have a positive response when they contact the force. 


The priorities in the police and crime plan 2016–20 are clear. They reflect a detailed understanding of the force’s future demand as well as changing public expectations. The priorities are to:

  • put victims first;
  • fight crime and anti-social behaviour;
  • tackle abuse, exploitation and violence;
  • combat organised crime and gangs;
  • provide visible neighbourhood policing and effective roads policing; and
  • deliver an efficient and accessible service.

The plans, including the force’s financial savings plan, make it clear how the force’s resources support these priorities and the public’s expectations. The force has designed New Horizon to be flexible to meet future demand and public expectations. The workforce has been part of the planning process for New Horizon and so they have an excellent understanding of it and the rationale it’s based on. Examples of the force allocating resources to meet the PCC’s vision and objectives include: the movement of officers and staff to support victims of rape, modern slavery and human trafficking; and the increase in officers and staff to enhance the investigations and better manage the increasing demands from cyber-enabled crime.

Future workforce

Kent Police’s workforce plans link directly to the likely demand it will face. Workforce plans address both the capacity needed to respond to projected demands and the expertise that will be required in the future. The force is making good use of this year’s increase in the council tax precept to boost recruitment. Some 80 officers have joined since April 2018. It is anticipated that the force will recruit a total of approximately 500 officers by the end of this financial year. The force is using this boost in recruitment to support the detective fast-track programme. Kent Police is being innovative by using associate trainers to get the most out of the training facilities. The force provides a range of career progression opportunities for police officers and members of staff. Online tools known as the ‘develop you’ and ‘develop me’ schemes provide access to career development opportunities: for example, if officers wish to explore becoming a detective they can start on the detective career pathway.

The force is very good at identifying and supporting gifted and talented individuals who will lead the force and the police service into the future. This year it has three officers joining the national strategic command course from where forces select future chief officers. The force is selecting leaders from all areas to ensure it has the necessary capabilities. It has developed an in-force graduate entry programme that has 13 people on it, with 23 percent being from a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background. The force has confirmed that it will recruit from the national graduate Police Now scheme from 2019. This means it will appoint officers directly into middle and senior management positions. The force has been active in universities in South East London with recruitment campaigns. All graduate entrants have a superintendent appointed as their mentor. Recruits to this scheme give very positive reviews of the programme. In particular, many say they hadn’t thought of the police as a career but the effort that Kent Police has put into promoting the service was a decisive factor.

Kent Police has recruited an apprenticeship manager and is currently evaluating several apprenticeship programmes to start in 2019. This includes the senior leader master’s degree apprenticeship which sits within the ‘Police Executive Programme’s Master of Studies (M.St) in Applied Criminology and Police Management’ from Cambridge University. The force has started a detective fast-track programme known as ‘investigate first’. This is to help address some of the difficulties in recruiting and retaining detectives. Some 44 new recruits have joined the force on this scheme. The force has ambitions for the workforce to be fully digital-enabled by 2025. It has a strapline of ‘Think Digital’ for all training and has a digital, information and intelligence plan in place to build up the workforce skills in this important area for future policing.

Finance plans

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 impact on their officer numbers and their ability to provide effective and efficient services.

Kent Police is very good at financial planning. The force has an excellent record of robust and successful financial management. It has saved £90m since 2010. Kent Police’s spending per head of population demonstrates cost effectiveness. Its revenue expenditure per head of population is £155 compared with a national average of £177. The force’s financial plans are realistic, built on sound assumptions and have been subject to review by experts. There is clear alignment between the change programme and financial planning. The force divides the responsibilities for change management between project teams, an assurance unit that validates new ways of working with frontline operational staff, and an oversight team that ensures planned savings are in line with the MTFP.

The force has achieved its savings requirement for the current financial year. The MTFP that it published in February 2018 included £24.1m of savings over a three-year period. The force has since increased this figure to £47m (of which £30.9m is saving requirements and £16m is contribution to capital and increased employer pension contributions). These figures include the effect of a one-off rise in precept in 2019/20. The force recognises that it needs to take new steps to secure savings. It has identified areas where it believes it can provide services more efficiently. These include better forecasting of the difference in pay costs between leavers and joiners, where it believes it can secure £2.6m of savings. Other examples include robotic process automation in crime recording, case file building and force control room dispatch, where it believes it can secure £3.6m. The savings requirement outlined above is based on a worst-case scenario of: a post 2019/20 ‘flat cash’ settlement from the government; the effect of expected additional employer contribution to pensions of £12m; and increased insurance premiums of £1m. The chief finance officer also warns that the effects of Brexit may bring additional costs to the force from some of its European Union contracts such as those for ICT, body armour, and vehicles.

The force’s capital programme supports large-scale change and the future ambition of the service. It includes:

  • £0.5m in the force control room ‘channel shift’ programme, which encourages people to contact the force via the internet rather than by telephone;
  • £4.9m in mobile working;
  • £4.2m in multi-media capture; and
  • £11m allocated from the revenue budget until 2022/23 for New Horizon.

The force’s use of reserves strikes a good balance between contingency funds for operational crises and supporting change in the force. The reserves account closed at £51m in 31 March 2018 and is due to reduce to £16m in April 2023. Some £9m will be set aside as general reserves, £3m for insurance and between £5m and £0.3m for budget volatility over the lifespan of the MTFP. Between £1.5m and £0.6m will be set aside for ‘spend to save’ schemes and £4m for the forthcoming two years of the MTFP to fund relocations and redundancies. The force’s investment into spend to save projects importantly supports its future ambitions for large-scale change.

Leadership and workforce development

The Kent Police and Essex Police leadership strategy includes detailed plans to recruit and develop the workforce to face the challenges of the future. The force benefits from national talent management and fast-track schemes as well as a local scheme to help individuals achieve their potential. The force’s belief that ‘everyone is a leader’ is supported by the ‘develop you’ and ‘develop me’ programmes. The programmes give access to career pathways such as internal exchange opportunities and external attachments and they also include 360-degree feedback and Myers-Briggs personality profiling. The force is also promoting opportunities on the College of Policing’s senior leadership programme. Over 1,000 members of the workforce have entered the ‘develop you’ programme. We are pleased to see that the force offers similar opportunities to members of police staff. The police staff leadership pathway programme is readily available to staff within the junior grades with the potential to progress into more senior leadership positions. Its aim is to help aspiring leaders with the right skills and experience to progress to senior leadership roles in Kent Police.

The force is willing to recruit externally, and it advertises its senior posts vacancies nationally. This includes chief inspector and superintendent positions. The force has also developed a talent matrix to help identify and develop officers and staff with leadership potential. This is part of a scheme to help them progress rapidly to senior positions or to develop their skills through lateral development opportunities. The force has moved away from a lengthy paper application process. Staff interested in progression and development are able to embark on a personalised development plan, linked to ‘develop you’ and the force’s leadership academy. The force manages its future promotion requirements and succession planning by assessing staff according to their motivation, performance and potential for promotion. The force calls this the leadership pipeline.

The force is committed to the development of its workforce and to helping the best to reach the top of the organisation. It is hopeful that the increased diversity of the workforce due to new recruitment processes will increase the diversity of leadership in the force, and talent-spotting has already begun among the new recruits.

Ambition to improve

Kent Police has a proven record of being ambitious and introducing large-scale change. Its current plans reflect this approach and, if successfully implemented, they should bring about major improvements in how the force provides its services to the public. The plans are realistic, built on sound assumptions and have been reviewed by external experts. The force has the expertise and capacity it needs to implement this large-scale change and it uses consultants to fill any gaps. An example of this is the consultants it used to assist in the detailed data modelling work. The change programme aims to invest in infrastructure to make savings in the future. It strikes a good balance between recruiting additional officers and building capacity by strengthening joint working. The change programme is well resourced and brings pace and rigour to achieving its objectives.

The force understands clearly the benefits of working with others. Since 2010, the combined directorates with Essex Police have provided support services and the force’s major crime function. The force estimates that it saves £1.5m every year through the joint provision of support services. The establishment of a joint business centre for both forces at Great Dunmow aims to release an additional £0.6m of savings.

Even more plans are in place to work with Essex Police in the interests of efficiency. These focus on closer working relationships in roads policing and dog handling, as well as plans for a joint digital investigation service for cyber-crime, fraud and child abuse cases. The MTFP prioritises the advanced and ambitious ICT transformation plans (a joint Essex and Kent plan). Revenue and capital expenditure is designed to make Kent Police a ‘digital first’ organisation. The seven-force strategic alliance, of which Kent Police is a member, is also examining the prospects for more efficiencies through closer working with all forces in the East of England.

Summary for question 2