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Surrey PEEL 2018


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

Last updated 27/09/2019
Requires improvement

Surrey Police has less understanding of the demand for its services than in 2017. The force knows it needs to analyse data more effectively to understand demand (including hidden demand) to better serve the public. However, it tends to rely on professional judgment instead.

In 2017, the force hired more staff. During the time of our inspection most workloads appeared to be manageable. Despite this, staff still felt they didn’t have enough resources to manage their work properly. The force sometimes inappropriately re-grades calls for its services. This could be to justify a slower response time. This may be happening because the force doesn’t have enough resources to deal with demand.

Sometimes, the force is inefficient because it avoids the risk of doing anything wrong. The force has collaborated with Sussex Police to find more efficient ways of working. It has also set up a new efficiency board to combat these problems by finding new ways of working.

Questions for Efficiency


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

Requires improvement

Areas for improvement

  • The force should do further work to gain a better overview of current demand for its services, including hidden demand. This is so it can make best use of its resources to meet the needs of the public.
  • The force should ensure the way it prioritises and allocates demand takes full account of the risks of inadvertently suppressing demand.
  • The force should ensure its aversion to risk is not constraining ideas and creating unnecessary bureaucracy and internal demand.

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

Surrey Police has some understanding of its current demand. But the force’s performance in this area has dropped since our last inspection in 2017.

This may be due to a combination of changes in the analytical team, a need for updated analytical software and because the force has focused on other priorities.

The force gathers, analyses and uses data from its crime reporting and recording systems to create a performance dashboard that is updated daily. This provides some analysis of the current position. But in-depth analysis is more limited than it was in 2017, with no overview of all the internal and external demands on the force.

The force uncovers hidden demand (such as modern slavery) through the proactive prevention activity discussed earlier. But the force doesn’t capture this data to better understand demand and has no comprehensive understanding of hidden demand. This means the force can’t fully assess and understand the demand on its services.

Surrey Police recognises that it needs to improve its analytical capability. The analytical team is separate from intelligence in the force and detached from operational policing teams. Senior leaders in the analytical team are not invited to meetings where officers discuss demand, so they are not aware of how the force prioritises demand. As a result, the team doesn’t offer analytical support unless specifically requested.

Surrey Police is struggling to meet current demand and there is limited evidence of plans to change this. The force monitors attendance times for Grade 1 and Grade 2 calls for service. Its target time for a Grade 1 incident is attendance within 15 minutes and the average time taken is 17 minutes. But the average response time for a Grade 2 call is 2 hours and 26 minutes, with only 50 percent attendance within the target time of 1 hour. There is limited evidence of the force using resources differently to reduce operational pressures.

Understanding factors that influence demand

The force is getting better at understanding how efficient working practices can reduce demand.

The force collaborated with Sussex Police to identify more efficient ways of working in procurement processes and information technology (IT). The force also expects that the upgrade to its crime and intelligence system will make it more efficient.

The joint change programme has identified inefficient practice, such as staff using the 101 number to get through to outside extensions rather than dialling them direct using an online directory. The force is now addressing this.

Staff agreed there are too many meetings and they find approval processes a burden. As in 2017, the force continues to avoid risks. This creates unnecessary internal demand.

We are pleased to see the force recently set up a new efficiency board to combat these problems. The force has also recently established a team to carry out its own reality testing, gathering information from officers and to improve how it works.

The force sometimes suppresses demand. As mentioned earlier, the force is inappropriately re-grading and reprioritising calls for service, possibly to justify a slower response time. This may be because the force doesn’t have the resources to allocate calls.

Demand on the neighbourhood policing (response) teams is also increasing, with officers investigating increasingly complex crimes. In some cases, the investigations that were part of the neighbourhood policing teams’ workloads included more serious crimes such as robbery and fraud, and that takes up more of their time.

We were concerned to hear that some officers may be manipulating DASH risk assessments to pass domestic abuse investigations on to other teams. The safeguarding investigation units (SIUs) should investigate higher risk cases and response officers should be responsible for lower risk cases. By slightly changing the risk assessment to make it higher or lower, the investigation can legitimately be passed on to the other team. This means the force is not always resourcing to demand. The force would benefit from a clear investigation allocation policy to make sure the right people, with the right skills, are investigating the correct number and types of crime.

Working with others to meet demand

Surrey Police shows it is willing to work with other organisations to reduce demand and give a better service to the public.

It has a good record of well established joint working across a range of partnerships and collaborations with other police forces and local partner organisations.

For example, the Surrey High Intensity Partnership Programme (SHIPP) is a joint National Health Service (NHS) and police initiative supporting people who demand a lot of police and other agency resources.

Early analysis suggests a non-cashable saving of £117,000 to the police and an estimated £380,000 non-cashable saving to partner agencies for the pilot period to February 2019. The force achieved this through fewer detentions under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 and fewer inpatient admissions, ambulance call outs and attendance in Accident and Emergency. The force is now considering extending the pilot or making the team permanent.

The force understands the effect of increased demand, financial pressures and reduced resources on other organisations. The significant reduction in resources across Surrey County Council’s children’s services has had a considerable impact on Surrey Police. At the same time, it aims to continue to offer the same level of partnership working to support children and young people.

This is most evident in the MASH, which will move to two separate units. Senior leaders have worked closely with the council to make sure their relationship continues and services are maintained. They have agreed to rotate police resources between the two locations to achieve this.

The force also plans to introduce an extra assessment for referrals to children’s services to assess risk based on people’s needs. This means that the number of referrals will fall, to help them manage their workload.

Surrey Police has a strong partnership with Sussex Police and collaborates fully, sharing resources across operations command, specialist crime command, IT and people services. The force continues to look for opportunities for further cost savings through collaborations with Sussex, Thames Valley, Kent and Hampshire forces. Surrey Police also works with the fire and ambulance services to identify opportunities to collaborate on estate and fleet provision. For example, the force and fire service have combined fleet workshops.

Innovation and new opportunities

The force looks for new opportunities to improve the service and promotes a culture of support.

For example, the Darzi Fellowship is an NHS initiative where a high-potential person is given the opportunity to work in other areas of the NHS. This expands their perspective and helps them apply their skills and ideas to new areas. This scheme is now happening outside the NHS for the first time, with Surrey Police. It has helped develop innovative partnership working to give a better response to the most vulnerable people in Surrey.

Senior leaders pride themselves on being approachable and welcome challenges and debate. The chief officer team holds regular Leading from the Middle events where they can speak directly to frontline leaders, such as sergeants, and hear feedback.

Chief officers and support teams also spend a day each quarter supporting frontline officers in activities related to an area such as high harm, ASB and rural crime, in a scheme called Operation Dragnet. Each day has a command structure, clear objectives and is heavily publicised by the media team. This promotes closer working between senior leaders and frontline staff. It also makes sure senior leaders keep in touch with the reality and pressures of day-to-day policing in the force.

The force uses ‘Innovate’ with Sussex Police, which is a staff forum to share ideas. Currently, Sussex Police uses it more.

Investment and benefits

Surrey Police has improved its governance of change programmes since our last inspection in 2017. The force collaborates with Sussex Police, holding a joint change board that reviews and prioritises change projects across both forces.

Investment decisions can be taken to either the change board or a joint chief finance officer board with Sussex. The latter is for decisions on investment outside the change programme, such as the capital programme. The force carefully scrutinises every decision.

Both forces demonstrate a good track record for making savings. When they see savings, they remove them from budgets. The force sees non-cashable savings, but there is limited evidence that it can demonstrate what it has achieved.

For example, both Surrey and Sussex Police introduced handheld mobile devices to be more efficient. But neither has measured the benefit, so there is limited evidence of success. The force should make sure that identifying non-cashable efficiencies improves performance and outcomes.

Prioritising different types of demand

Surrey Police has no broad overview of all the inside and outside demands on the force. This means it is more challenging to match resources and prioritise demand.

In our 2015–2017 efficiency reports, we described the force as “running hot”. That means it didn’t have enough resources to meet demand. In 2017, the force worked hard to recruit more officers. But the workforce was young and inexperienced, and the force had not reached the ideal number of staff.

Despite more demand, we were pleased to see that the force was no longer “running hot”. Most workloads looked manageable, but staff still felt they didn’t have enough resources to manage their work. The force is struggling to meet its emergency response targets. It needs to understand demand better, so staff work to their maximum capacity while meeting the public’s expectations.

Assigning resources to demand and understanding their costs

The force has a limited understanding of the cost of its services. It doesn’t fully appreciate the consequences of investing in or cutting resources. The force predicts that demand will increase in most areas. The police and crime commissioner (PCC) has agreed the maximum council tax increase for policing, and the force will invest it in extra resources.

However, the force decided on how many officers to employ and where to place them based on discussion and not by analysing data. Its decision could be correct, but without evidence it is difficult to demonstrate it is using resources effectively.

The force is good at reacting to sudden increases in demand. But the Policing in Your Neighbourhood (PiYN) resourcing model is being undermined. The force set up small teams to meet specific challenges, but once their objectives were achieved, these teams were not disbanded.

These teams are taking resources from the front line. So, it is perhaps unsurprising that staff feel under pressure. The force would benefit from a more structured approach to managing resources.

Workforce capabilities

In our 2017 inspection, we said the force should carry out activities to fully understand its workforce’s capabilities, to identify any gaps and put plans in place to address them. It has made progress, but there is still room for improvement.

The force has a limited but improving understanding of the skills it needs. The force recognises that this is a knowledge gap across the workforce. It has now carried out a skills audit for most managers. The force is now confident that it has a good understanding of the skills managers have. But it is unclear how it intends to address any skills gaps or use the information to plan for the future when staff leave.

The force has not yet done the same for the wider workforce. But it plans to do so to inform Equip, its new human resources software launching later in 2019.

The force doesn’t understand how the skills needed will change in the future. This means the force can’t fully identify the skills gaps it needs to fill, through either recruitment or training. The force would benefit from a workforce plan more linked to demand and future operational needs.

More efficient ways of working

The force could do more to find more efficient ways of working. The force is being inefficient because staff try to avoid the risk of things going wrong. In the past, the force was working towards empowering staff and having processes to prevent mistakes.

It was disappointing to find a similar picture in this inspection. Some officers and staff were frustrated that the force appeared to avoid risk. However, we were encouraged to see that the force has set up an efficiency board to review inefficiency and identify improvements. The board’s first meeting was just before our inspection, so it is too early to judge how effective it will be.

Surrey Police has a good track record of making savings and getting measurable results from savings plans. The force continues to work with Sussex Police to achieve savings.

The force has a capital programme focused on technology. It has recently bought land in Leatherhead for a new headquarters.

The force needs to save £10m over the next four years. There is no evidence of how it will do this.

Working with others

The force is committed to working with others to offer a better service to the public.

The force has collaborated widely with Sussex Police, and achieved considerable savings as a result. Since the forces have already joined departments where possible, there is limited opportunity for further collaboration. But the forces continue to save money through joint approaches to finance and technology.

Surrey and Sussex forces use the same governance structures to oversee the forces’ change programmes. Surrey Police considers whether any proposal can be applied to both forces.

The forces have evaluated completed change programmes for savings. But it is unclear if they have carried out a more comprehensive analysis of the wider benefits of their joint departments to inform future decision making.

Using technology

The force has an innovative technology strategy. In collaboration with Sussex Police, it is forming a new digital division. This will create a new set of foundations to simplify commercial contracts and create savings. The team will feature both officers and staff. They will review digital transformation across the whole organisation, such as digital forensics, POLIT and body-worn video, to make sure staff using the technology get the maximum benefit.

The force has a capital programme for IT investment. This includes network infrastructure as well as investing in specific systems such as Equip, which it believes will create further efficiencies.

Summary for question 1

How well does the force plan for the future?

Requires improvement

Areas for improvement

  • The force should develop clearer longer-term plans which are shared with the workforce and consider projected future demand, resourcing requirements and changing public expectations. The force should use these plans to define distinct priorities.
  • The force should develop financial plans to cover all future budgeting scenarios and show how it intends to mitigate any reduction in service provision because of a financial shortfall.
  • The force should undertake appropriate activities to understand fully its workforce’s capacity and capability to identify any gaps in meeting future requirements, put plans in place to address these, and carry these out.

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

The force analyses data to predict demand for the next 12–18 months. But this isn’t creating change.

Other than the first version of its force management statement (FMS), there is limited evidence of a future business plan. The force is investing new money into priority areas using professional judgment over analysis.

The force isn’t asking for information from partner organisations to help analyse issues and understand future demand. The force understands new analytical software is needed, but it is unclear when it will get it.

Its plan to improve and spread analytical skills across the force was also unclear. The new digital division will start to look at risks and opportunities from technology used by the police and criminals. But it is too early to say if it will consider how technology may help reduce or increase future demand.

The force considers demand from less obvious types of crime, such as modern slavery and human trafficking. It is looking to understand the severity and complexity of these crimes. However, without enough data to understand hidden demand, it is unclear how comprehensive this analysis will be, or how it will inform future planning.

Understanding public expectations

The force regularly consults the public. But it hasn’t done work to understand changing public expectations.

The force carries out customer and victim satisfaction surveys. The PCC says it is the first force in the country to use text messaging to survey crime victims. This will provide feedback on the service the victim received.

The force also carries out local surveys about crime and ASB. The force then uses the results to address concerns. For example, one survey revealed concerns about an increase in burglaries in an area. The force used social media to reassure people.

The Joint Neighbourhood Survey (JNS) is a joint Surrey Police and SCC survey providing quarterly results about public confidence, local issues, crime prevention and contacting the police. The force uses it to evaluate campaigns and get in-depth feedback on specific issues. Public confidence in Surrey Police is the highest in the country at 84 percent. The force is confident that visibility and local engagement remain the public’s priority. But even though the force is consulting the public, there is little evidence the information is informing its plans.


The force needs to improve how it prioritises resources. The FMS has replaced a core strategic plan and detailed business plans. The statement identifies 31 priority areas across the force. We would like to see the force narrow this down to a more manageable number so that it drives change throughout the organisation.

The joint change programme with Sussex is currently working on around 100 projects. Without clear direction from senior leaders, these projects may not be prioritised to the areas of greatest need.

The force’s plan to use some of the recent council tax increase to boost prevention resources is in line with the PCC’s vision and objectives to build confident communities.

Supporting victims is another PCC priority. The force has recently taken over responsibility for victim care from outside agencies, creating a joint victim and witness care unit. This means victims will get a single contact while they are involved in the criminal justice process. Every member of the newly formed team has been trained to assess a victim’s needs. They can offer practical and emotional support to help them cope with the crime’s impact and recover from harm.

Future workforce

In our 2017 inspection, we said the force should undertake appropriate activities to fully understand its workforce’s capabilities, to identify any gaps and put plans in place to address them. The force has made some progress but could do more. The force has a workforce plan, but there is limited evidence that this is based on changing demand. The force has taken steps to understand the skills and capabilities of its leaders, but not those of the wider workforce. So the force does not have the full picture of the workforce’s skills and capabilities, and this means the plan cannot be comprehensive.

As for recruitment, the force has used direct entry and fast-track schemes and has some impressive Police Now candidates. The force also has an active volunteer programme and is tackling areas of key skill shortage such as detectives.

The force is working hard to increase the number of detectives it has. It is currently 35 below establishment (the number budgeted for). This is an improvement from 55 below establishment in October 2018. The force is considering direct recruitment into the role.

Finance plans

The 2017 inspection showed Surrey Police had good governance arrangements to understand its current financial position and any risks to the budget. This has not changed.

But the inspection said that future financial plans could be regulated better and that they may benefit from switching to priority-based budgeting for more financial control. This still applies.

The force needs to save £14m by 2022/23. So far, it has identified £4m of savings. The force has a savings plan for this year and next. But there is a £10m gap beyond that. There are no plans to show how this gap will be met. The force has a good record of making savings. However, we would like to see comprehensive plans on how the money will be found and how the force will deal with the impact on providing a service.

The force assumes that the 2019/20 pension grant will continue in the future. But there is no guarantee that will happen. This could increase the force’s financial challenges. The force should create alternative plans for this outcome.

Apart from this, the force’s financial assumptions are reasonable and have received outside scrutiny. The public’s views have been gathered through public engagement events.

Leadership and workforce development

The force has a good understanding of its workforce and leaders at first line (sergeant and equivalent) level. But it needs to develop this more.

The force has a clear and comprehensive First Line Leaders Development Pathway to identify, select and promote people to first line leadership. The force developed it following an essential skills audit of first line officers and staff in early 2018. The audit, which achieved an 85 percent response rate, collected and recognised existing knowledge. It saved £350,000 in unnecessary training for officers and staff.

The force has used the data to see capability gaps and risks at a force, division and individual level. But it is unclear how the force intends to fill those gaps. The force is in the process of replicating the audit for middle managers.

Succession planning allows a force to make sure skills don’t disappear when staff leave. The force currently has no formal succession planning process. However, it has identified plans for 30 critical roles. There doesn’t appear to be any succession planning for senior leaders.

The force is taking positive steps to monitor workforce information to identify and understand gaps in recruitment, retention and progression across different protected characteristics, such as disability and age. Staff felt that the force was missing an opportunity to take advantage of the skills new recruits brought from previous jobs, such as a language or technological skills.

Ambition to improve

There is no doubt senior leaders are committed to improving the force. But it is not obvious that there is a clear strategy covering direction, priorities, finance, workforce and change. The FMS replaced the force business plan, but this does not give sufficient detail of the force’s future direction.

The newly appointed chief constable wants to focus on prevention, partnerships, culture and technology transformation. We look forward to seeing how this will translate into specific plans showing the force’s ambition to improve and how it intends to achieve that.

The force has an extensive change programme covering around 100 projects. It is set to review almost every part of the business.

The change programme is well governed and documented, and adequately resourced. The force identifies savings and removes them from budgets. There is good co-ordination between HR, finance and the change programme.

The force reviews changes after they are put in place. But, over time, local staff change the new models and this affects resources and service. The force should make sure it is aware of this and accepts or rejects the changes.

Surrey Police has a clear commitment to collaborative working with Sussex and other police forces, and with local partner organisations. This is creating cashable savings (releasing money to spend) and improving services.

Summary for question 2