Leicestershire PEEL 2018
How efficiently does the force operate and how sustainable are its services to the public?
Leicestershire Police is good in the efficient way it operates and provides sustainable services to the public.
Senior leaders understand demand, and the force has improved its knowledge of previously under-reported crimes, such as modern slavery and human trafficking. It has also improved how it allocates incidents to neighbourhood teams.
A major re-organisation in 2017 improved the force’s efficiency. The force has also invested in technology to improve its efficiency.
It does not, however, have a comprehensive understanding of the skills and capabilities of all its workforce.
The force plans well for the future. The ambitious BluePrint 2025 change programme aims to increase efficiency.
The work of new specialist teams will continue to improve the force’s understanding of hidden crime. It plans to invest in mobile technology, and increase the presence of officers in neighbourhoods.
However, the force has made little improvement in developing and managing talent in its workforce.
How well does the force use its resources to meet the demand it faces?
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure it understands fully its workforce’s capabilities, so that it can identify and address any gaps. These should enable the force to be efficient in meeting current and likely future demand.
- The force should conduct a leadership skills audit that will allow it to understand leadership capacity and capability.
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 in Leicestershire Police have a clear understanding of the volume and sources of demand. The force uses sophisticated techniques to measure, manage and plan for demand in the future.
A reorganisation of the workforce late in 2017 resulted in comprehensive changes to the distribution of workloads and to the locations where frontline officers and staff worked. The new structure makes the workflow more straightforward. It ensures that the right person with the right skills can deal with an incident from the start. This means fewer handovers between different teams and a better, more responsive service to victims. The force is better able to judge how effectively it is meeting demands.
Senior leaders take monitoring demand and analysis of the productivity of the workforce seriously. They have a thorough understanding of the nature and volume of calls for service from the public and other organisations – and of how those tasks are allocated and resolved. From its monitoring, the force told us that it estimates that 30 percent of the telephone calls received are matters that other organisations, like the council or the NHS, should deal with. It can now start to explore how best to reduce this demand on police time, while still ensuring that these calls reach the right organisations.
The force makes use of sophisticated demand modelling software and is good at analysing broad sets of data. A skilled change team leads this work. The team works hard to ensure all departments understand their demands, helps to uncover inefficiencies and suggests better ways to handle work. The team has developed demand dashboards, which show pictorially where each individual department stands in relation to its understanding and better management of demand. Using the dashboards, senior leaders are expected to maintain a constant awareness of the demand their team faces, and how it is changing. They can also see whether their employees are able to meet such changes. The change team uses these assessments to highlight areas of greatest risk to the force, or opportunities to exploit more efficiencies.
Our 2017 efficiency report identified understanding the totality of demand as an area for improvement. The force has made clear progress on this since our last inspection. In particular, it has taken steps to better understand and deal with hidden and less obvious areas of demand, by establishing a modern slavery and human trafficking specialist team and the SHRU. Both of these focus on uncovering previously hidden or under-reported forms of demand.
Understanding factors that influence demand
Senior leaders look beyond obvious or easily measurable sources of demand and consider the public’s views when setting priorities. The force has continued its long-standing commitment to neighbourhood policing. Contact between neighbourhood teams and local communities is good. Priorities are agreed at the local level. The process of gathering these up, and considering them as a strategic issue to inform force priorities, is clear. The force’s senior leaders take into account concerns felt by the public when they prioritise allocation of resources to meet demand.
The force has begun an ambitious programme to systematically review its working practices and processes across all its operations, to ensure each area of work operates as efficiently as possible. Many of the fundamental processes that the force uses have been carefully mapped. The time they take up and their financial costs have been calculated accurately under the BluePrint 2025 programme. All opportunities to stop duplicating work and to resolve incidents or crimes in the shortest legitimate timeframe are seized.
Senior officers work hard to promote a culture of getting things right the first time, and of seeking feedback about wasted effort. All leaders take responsibility for understanding demand. The demand dashboards reflect how that culture is emerging. Leaders have a better knowledge now about planning to meet demand, and see it as an important part of their role. They are looking forward, rather than simply managing current demand.
The force’s demand board also receives and co-ordinates improvement suggestions from the workforce. Examples of how these suggestions have led to better use of police time include: contracting security guards to manage cordons around crime and major incident scenes, so freeing up officers; reducing the time officers spend with people who are under arrest but being treated in hospital; and working with criminal justice partners to reduce the frequency and the length of time officers spend waiting to give evidence at court.
Our 2017 efficiency report identified an area for improvement. It said the force should review how neighbourhood teams are allocated incidents and resolve them – ensuring that demand is not suppressed and that the public receives an appropriate service. This year, we spent time during fieldwork with staff who allocate incidents and with neighbourhood teams and found that these areas had improved. The force has introduced a triage sergeant to the control room to take responsibility for the smooth, accurate allocation of incidents to the most appropriate team. This helps to streamline the service and ensure that the right officer with the right skills receives the incident to deal with, as soon as it is received. The creation of this role has had a noticeable effect. It means that more incidents are resolved without the need for further allocation.
Leicestershire Police is recording crimes more accurately – as our crime data integrity re-inspection report of December 2018 confirms. Better recording means that more crimes are being investigated. After recognising that crime workloads have grown for all investigators – and that some investigations have no, or very few, leads – the force introduced a crime bureau, as described earlier. This is effectively resolving a high number of cases that would otherwise be allocated to frontline officers, and is not doing so by closing cases prematurely to suppress demand.
Working with others to meet demand
The force has well-established arrangements for working with other organisations to reduce and meet demand.
A multi-agency team of professionals that work together to meet the needs of vulnerable people is based at Wigston police station. Staff from local councils and care agencies work here alongside police officers and staff. Their role in receiving referrals and starting investigations and safeguarding activity has grown. The team has become increasingly efficient and effective. In a similar fashion, the SARC – where police and health care specialists provide an excellent service to victims of sexual offences – is helping to make prevention campaigns effective. People with mental health problems receive support through the joint work of officers and experts from the health services. The street triage team meets urgent needs and provides intervention and pathways into care for people in crisis. The PAVE team works to solve the problems of those people with mental health conditions who often make use of public services. The team sees finding long-term solutions for such people as just as important as reducing the demand on the police, health and social care providers.
The force works closely with the local ambulance trust and with the health, fire and rescue services to support the Braunstone Blues project, which provides support for families in that neighbourhood. It has used the lessons learned from this to develop three People Zones, commissioned by the police and crime commissioner (PCC). The various services work together in three neighbourhoods to provide intensive support to people most vulnerable to harm and to the effects of criminality. This approach highlights the way the force takes a long-term view to solving problems and helping people, which will also reduce demand for the force and other services.
Leicestershire Police has recognised that service cuts in its partner organisations, such as social services, are affecting their ability to do as much joint work as before. It is consulting them about how to carry on working together to meet demand – and how to prevent those reductions from causing additional demands on police time or having detrimental effects on the service provided.
Innovation and new opportunities
The workforce is encouraged to make suggestions about how to make the force more efficient, or how to achieve more with the resources available. Chief officers have held workshops with first and second-line supervisors. There, they have described the force’s financial circumstances and the changing shape of demand. The change team regularly visits frontline teams to share ideas about ways to improve processes and change team compositions. This helps them to judge any potential adverse consequences, refine their ideas using the feedback they have gathered and get more suggestions from the workforce.
The force supports volunteers, as well as special constables and cadets, well. They bring many extra attributes and skills. It makes increasing use of volunteers with specialist skills and to good effect. They operate drones, carry out forensic financial assessments and boost the force’s digital and cyber capabilities, for example.
Ideas are also taken from outside the force wherever possible. The force was an early adopter of the nationally approved, ‘single online home’ website design and functionality, which allows the public to access more services through its website. It is also seeking to create a new way of responding, known as a ‘service offering’, to victims of certain types of crime. As described earlier, this involves creating an agreement between the force and the victim, making it clear what will happen and when. Previously, there was less structure or uniformity. Now, an investigator will provide a specified response and a forensics expert will attend within a set time frame. The victims benefit because they understand what service they have a right to expect. It also allows the force to prioritise its resources, increases the opportunity for a thorough investigation and ensures a more consistent quality of service.
Investment and benefits
The force’s recent investments in technology mean that all frontline officers and staff have been issued with mobile devices and laptops as well, where necessary. The increasing number of applications and better system functionality mean that officers can carry out more tasks without travelling back to police stations. Comprehensive plans for investment in ICT are aligned to support the BluePrint 2025 programme. Up-to-date, sophisticated software is used to combine the data that the force holds about demand and its workforce. It has enabled the force to make reliable projections about the best ways to compose and structure the workforce.
The force has little capacity to make significant new capital investments. It is committed to a series of technology programmes, described later. Overall, the financial picture for both capital and revenue is of a lean force, operating inside tight margins. The force spends only 17 percent of the budget on matters other than workforce costs. Working as efficiently as possible is a priority. This can be seen in the initiatives that the demand board has co-ordinated, described earlier.
Prioritising different types of demand
Leicestershire Police has worked hard in recent years to match its resources to the types of demand that represent the greatest risk to the public. It has significantly bolstered teams and joint working arrangements that protect vulnerable people. This is in line with the force’s priorities, and shows coherent strategic leadership. Senior leaders understand that financial constraints on the force mean it cannot meet all demand equally. They have made firm decisions about how to distribute resources to best meet demand, based on sophisticated analysis, knowing that demand will continue to grow. A series of proposals about how to adapt and improve the allocation of resources is being developed within the BluePrint 2025 programme.
As a result of recent adjustments to the shift pattern of frontline teams, a day can be set aside every two months for training and professional development. If this change succeeds, officers will be able to make up for important training modules they have missed while dealing with frontline tasks. They will not need to carry out online learning while off duty.
Senior leaders are working hard to understand why people are being taken away from their roles to cover other work or attend training. This constitutes a hidden form of demand. Sometimes it may be unavoidable. But leaders believe modifications could be made to reduce any negative effects. This is an extension of the thinking that led to the creation of triage sergeants and the crime bureau. In those cases, the redistribution of officers for the new posts reduced some capacity at the frontline. But both the public and the force obtained benefits in return. This flexibility in approach has led more recently to a group of police inspectors being made available around the clock to meet the demand created by legislation on the treatment of people under arrest and use of other police powers. In the end, this has reduced the number of unnecessary calls on all other inspectors.
Assigning resources to demand and understanding their costs
The BluePrint 2025 programme is looking at different potential operating models to better match demand with the resources available – and make sure the force is best placed to meet demand if fewer resources are available in future. The force is working on designing the best composition of frontline teams, and what skills they will need. Three distinct teams meet most of the demand at present: prevention and response teams for urgent and priority incidents; NIUs that continue investigations in all except the most complex or sensitive cases; and PIUs that start investigations for people in custody.
Neighbourhood officers and PCSOs help those teams by attending incidents and by carrying out investigations if needed, although this is not their primary role. While this approach is more streamlined than the previous structure, separate lines of supervision and shift patterns are needed, and investigations pass between teams. This can create delays and undermine a sense of responsibility. Senior leaders have a good understanding of the costs, capacity and limitations of this structure. The force is working hard through the BluePrint 2025 programme to evolve and improve its processes and procedures, so that it can continue to improve efficiency and manage growing demands.
The force has effective systems to monitor and project changes in workforce composition. It is good at moving resources quickly to deal with a major incident, for example. It can also make accurate predictions on future changes in workforce numbers; these draw on information about when people are most likely to leave the force, be promoted, or change career path. Those systems hold some information about the workforce’s skills. They can be used to demonstrate how skills gaps can be filled, or created, by moving people around.
Although work has started to address this issue, the force does not yet have a comprehensive understanding of the skills and capabilities across the workforce.
Our 2017 efficiency report identified two areas for improvement. One was that the force should ensure it fully understands its workforce’s capabilities, so that it can identify and fill any gaps, enabling the force to be efficient in meeting current and likely future demand.
The second was that the force should conduct a leadership skills audit that would allow it to understand its leadership’s capacity and capability.
During this year’s inspection, we assessed the force’s progress. We found that the force has not fully addressed either area. It has made limited progress in identifying general skills gaps, but this has focused on technical and operational skills rather than wider skills. The force has made even less progress in understanding the leadership’s capacity and capability. It has concentrated its activity on technical ways to draw together the information held about skills in different computer systems. A single combined records system was due to be introduced soon after our fieldwork ended. The force needs to step up its efforts to improve its understanding and management of the workforce’s skills and leadership capabilities. That way, it can make plans to tackle any current or future skills gaps, so that delays do not hinder its overall progress.
Some parts of the force have improved and supplemented their skills. But this has been done largely as the need arose, not as part of a wider plan. For example, to help deal with foreign nationals who come into contact with the police, members of the workforce with language skills and cultural awareness have volunteered their assistance. Intelligence specialists co-ordinate activity to identify foreign national offenders and maintain records of which officers and staff can supply those skills. Another team has trained more staff to assess and manage the risks that sexual and violent offenders pose.
A robust process operates to attract, retain and develop volunteers to work with the force. The force is exploring ways to tailor recruiting events towards those skills that the force needs most and to increase its use of the specialist skills that volunteers hold.
The force makes some use of internships, particularly in the ICT business area. It is also exploring how to replicate the apprenticeships for new officers as a pathway for new staff members. Having used consultants to help initiate BluePrint 2025, the force chose to train local staff to carry on this work instead of paying for more consultant time. That has resulted in increased use of systems and data. Other forces and change programmes in policing have visited, to learn from the team.
More efficient ways of working
BluePrint 2025 is already helping the force to determine its business processes and their cost. The programme will improve the way demand is met. It aims to reduce costs by making the workflow smoother and by shortening the timescales to conclude activities. In some cases, improving the skills of staff involved at the initial stages of dealing with incidents can considerably shorten the workload placed later on other teams. An appropriate outcome is achieved sooner, benefiting the victim or the person affected. This approach is built on understanding and then increasing the skills that staff most commonly need, and whether they require a police officer. A more flexibly structured workforce should become possible that achieves the same, or better, performance and outcomes for the public. This also reduces the volume of demand on the frontline.
The force now has a more efficient way of handling telephone calls, with a digital system that considerably reduces demand for its switchboard function. Callers are either directed to find the information they need online, or have their call automatically routed to the person they need to reach.
Working with others to provide a better service
Leicestershire Police has a long-standing commitment to co-operating and collaborating with other police forces, emergency services and organisations. The force is engaged in several policing collaborations to provide the best service and create efficiencies. These concern armed operations, roads policing, investigation of the most serious and organised crimes, counter terrorism, forensic services, administration of criminal justice processes, human resources and the newly emerging digital forensic storage system.
The force considers new opportunities for collaborative work carefully. As noted earlier, it gives priority to those that protect vulnerable people. It fosters links with academia. Research has been sponsored to enrich the PAVE team and determine how referrals of vulnerable adults lead to positive outcomes for them.
The force has made good investments in technology that help it to operate more efficiently and enhance its investigative ability. Frontline teams carry personal mobile devices; these have been updated with extra functionality recently, so officers can carry out a range of tasks at the scene of an incident. They can update investigations, check fingerprints and research databases instantly through the devices. This means officers can spend longer periods away from police stations because they do not have to return to carry out administrative tasks.
The force’s ability to examine digital devices and conduct online investigations is excellent. Use of advanced techniques and systems means that investigations make faster progress and provide the best possible evidence.
The force embraces technology to find new ways to make the whole workforce more efficient. Mobile devices and laptops with video calling enable agile and remote work, so less office space and travel between sites is needed. ICT programmes are promoting better workflows within teams. There are better tools to search and analyse the data already held in force systems, and they present this data in easily understood formats.Summary for question 1
How well does the force plan for the future?
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve how it identifies and develops talented people in its workforce.
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
Senior leaders in Leicestershire Police are improving their understanding of future demand.
A sophisticated and structured approach to demand modelling, based on trends for incident and crime data, as well as better information about previously hidden demand, are informing the BluePrint 2025 programme. The force is generating alternative workforce structures to meet future demand, increase the force’s resilience and reduce inefficiency.
The force sees understanding demand in its totality is a priority. The introduction of demand dashboards shows how managers are expected to consider future demand and prepare their teams to deal with it. All officers and staff we spoke to during our fieldwork trust their senior leaders to make good decisions about preparing for the future.
The force expects continued investment in mobile technology and increasingly powerful digital applications, which the whole workforce can use, to create further efficiencies. It expects more agile working and smoother workflows to lead to more productivity and better distribution of workloads, helping the force to meet the growth in demand. The new specialist teams working to tackle previously under-reported crimes and crimes affecting vulnerable people are also expected to provide a deeper understanding of the future scale and nature of hidden and emerging crime types throughout the force area.
Understanding public expectations
Neighbourhood teams contact and communicate with the public regularly and in a well-organised way. This helps the force to set priorities and influences the force’s understanding of changing expectations. The force remains actively involved in a range of partnership activities and is monitoring changes in expectations and in the capacity of other public services, as they also reorganise.
The force uses established social media networks to learn what the public thinks of its services and seek feedback about any gaps. Reflecting the greater use of digital technology in society, the force is making good progress in improving its public contact routes. Digital telephony now gives callers more options to reach the service they need more quickly. The force’s early adoption of ‘single online home’ allows people to access many of the most frequently used services online, at a time of their choice. The public can record crimes, track investigations, report road incidents, submit intelligence and benefit from simpler ways to comply with firearms licensing requirements. Links on the force website to appropriate organisations for non-police matters are much clearer. Telephone contact remains available, however, to avoid excluding sections of the community. Online ‘live chat’ will be introduced as well.
Leicestershire Police is good at allocating resources to what matters most to local communities. It has effective ways of monitoring whether it is meeting those priorities.
Besides setting priorities at neighbourhood level, each year the force conducts a structured assessment of the greatest threats to communities throughout the force area. Based on crime trends and intelligence assessments, this technique is known as MoRiLE. It helps to reveal the harm linked with emerging crime types – even though they occur less often – and measures the force’s ability to tackle each of the identified threats. The force uses the results of the MoRiLE assessment to form a control strategy that focuses on aligning resources to priorities.
Increased income in 2018/19, which has equated to 24 more police officers, has been targeted to increasing the presence of officers in neighbourhoods, investigating serious sexual offences, and tackling modern slavery and human trafficking. These are themes of public concern. That approach is consistent with the vision of the PCC to prioritise the protection of vulnerable people, visible policing and good victim services.
The force is to continue this approach over the next two financial years. It is developing plans to expand its workforce, described below. It is making investments to tackle the risks that the business planning process, used to produce the force management statement, have determined.
Leicestershire Police is planning to increase the size of its workforce over the next two years. The force and the office of the PCC aim to expand the number of officers by 107 to reach 1,913. This will start in early 2019 and end by March 2021 and is funded by the council tax precept rise agreed for the financial year 2019/20. Given the time it takes to bring in the new officers, the budget for them will not be used immediately. The force has recognised that as an opportunity to make short-term appointments of police staff. This will create extra capacity for certain roles, for example within the crime bureau.
The force has considered how to use the extra police officers and is targeting the areas of highest demand. This means more frontline patrol officers and detectives, and a greater capacity to meet emerging types of demand, especially the exploitation of vulnerable people. The scale of this increase – 60 patrol officers and 24 detectives – is significant. It is likely to result in an improved service to the public.
While the force’s plans to expand the workforce are clear, it has only a limited understanding of the skills and capabilities now in its ranks. It has some grasp of the operational and technical competencies of police officers, but not of the whole workforce. It has not carried out a comprehensive audit. We saw limited progress in terms of development of plans for future workforce skills and capabilities.
The force has taken steps to embrace the full range of routes into the service as a police officer. A cohort of new officers is following the police apprenticeship scheme. The force has close ties with a local university, working with it to tailor pre-entry degree courses closely to local needs. At senior level, two direct-entry superintendents have recently joined the force; this makes three in total. Rigorous processes are designed to attract, retain and develop volunteers – especially people who can bring specialist skills that are in short supply in the mainstream workforce.
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.
The force’s medium-term financial plans are built on prudent assumptions about known cost pressures. Those plans project budget shortfalls of £1.2m in the financial year 2019/20 and of £3.4m and £1.7m in the two subsequent financial years. A return to surplus is expected the following year.
The force will use reserves to support revenue spending in the next three financial years. They will not be needed to balance the budget after that. A specific budget equalisation reserve will be used. It will fall from £8.69m to £1.79m between April 2019 and March 2021, before growing again in subsequent financial years. This reserve is distinct from the force’s general reserve, which will be held at £6m, equal to 3.2 percent of net budget requirement and within the range that the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy considers prudent.
Sound financial planning assumptions that the force has made include building a contingency for salary inflation following the removal of the 1 percent pay cap and possible growth in pay costs, once the review of police staff roles finishes in 2019. The force makes no assumptions about receiving more money each year from central government. This means that spending plans and balancing the budget do not depend on receiving more money from this source.
The force looks beyond workforce costs to achieve savings, although the narrow margins described earlier mean that opportunities to do so are limited.
Leadership and workforce development
Our 2017 efficiency inspection identified an area for improvement. We stated that the force should consider how to better identify and develop talent in the workforce. The force has made limited progress in improving its approach to leadership development and talent management since then. Work carried out so far reflects only the early stages of determining what changes it needs to make. The force has made no significant changes to how it manages these issues. The force will be carrying out an audit of leadership skills. It intends also to revise how it conducts annual appraisals, specifically to include a better assessment of leadership skills. It needs to do more to encourage all officers and staff to explore and achieve their potential.
The established career pathway programme for investigators helps officers and staff to gain experience in different roles. When they are eligible for them, they may take promotions while remaining in investigative roles. Using a similar approach, the force is creating a new pathway for digital and cyber-crime investigators. This will lead to a qualification and membership of the professional body for those skills. Another career pathway exists for neighbourhood policing specialists and plans are being considered for other roles.
The force has worked with local universities to develop a course that ends with a level 6 qualification for neighbourhood specialists. This underlines the value that the force places on community policing, and rewards officers and PCSOs who show long-term commitment to the role.
Leicestershire Police believes it is important to increase the representation of people with protected characteristics and make staff in leadership posts more diverse. Two members of staff now bring expertise to help identify improvements. These will encourage more diversity and ensure that all officers and staff have an equal opportunity to advance in their careers.
Ambition to improve
Senior leaders have shown a considerable desire for change in the last two years. They have ambitious plans to improve the service offered to the public. They have worked hard to make the best use of their resources to meet demand and protect vulnerable people. That approach is reflected in the well-led Blueprint 2025 programme. The force has tried to become more business-like and learn from commercial practices. This is best shown in its sophisticated, thoughtful approach to mapping how tasks flow through the organisation. These reviews aim to cut wasteful or unnecessary processes to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of future services. The force has a good understanding now of the increasing layers of service it provides, according to the complexity of an incident or crime and, consequently, the cost and skills of the employees involved in resolving it. This will help the force to better understand the effect of cuts in resources from specific teams, and identify any skills gaps that are preventing the service from operating as effectively as it should.
The force has a strong track record of collaboration with other East Midlands police forces. But little scope remains for the force to explore new opportunities, other than shared digital media storage, on which progress is being made.Summary for question 2