Observations on the second FMS submissions
- Foreword from HMI Phil Gormley
- Foreword from Chief Constable Bill Skelly
- About this document
- The purpose of a force management statement
- Summary of HMICFRS’s observations
- Analysis, not description
- Risk assessment
- Step 1 – Establish the gap between current demand and demand in the next four years
- Step 2 – Establish the current status of your workforce and other assets: their performance, condition, capacity, capability, serviceability, wellbeing and security of supply
- Step 3 – Explain what you will do to make sure your workforce and other assets will be able to meet the demand you are anticipating; this may be by changing the skills of your workforce, investing in new ICT and making efficiencies
- Step 4 – State how much and what types of future demand you don’t expect to be able to meet, having made the changes and efficiencies in Step 3
- Feedback from forces on FMS2
- Completing the FMS – Step 1: How well have forces identified the gap between current and future demand?
- Completing the FMS – Step 2: How well have forces established the current status of their workforce and other assets?
- Capacity – workforce
- Capacity – other assets
- Capability – workforce
- Capability – other assets
- Serviceability, wellbeing and condition
- Wellbeing and condition – workforce
- Serviceability and condition – other assets
- Workforce – security of supply
- Security of supply – other assets
- Performance – workforce and other assets
- Completing the FMS – Step 3: How well have forces explained what they will do to make sure their workforce and other assets will be able to meet their future demand?
- Completing the FMS – Step 4: How well have forces identified what future demand they will not be able to meet?
- Factors that may have contributed to better force management statements
- Back to publication
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Foreword from HMI Phil Gormley
We are very pleased with the progress we have seen since the first round of force management statements (FMSs). Forces have been supportive of the process and have clearly invested a lot of time, thought and effort in developing their statements. We are grateful for their contribution to the continued development of the FMS. The national FMS Steering Group is a group of representatives from organisations across policing including HMICFRS, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), the College of Policing, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and the Home Office. Collectively we ensure the FMSs reflect the needs of interested parties throughout policing.
FMS2 has shown that more forces are now better at assessing their demand and workloads and their ability to meet them. There is greater consistency in the way forces have completed their FMSs, and forces have in general shown greater awareness of the challenges ahead. This achievement is worth recognising. But there is a continuing need to improve.
It is also apparent from speaking to forces that the process of completing an FMS has had material benefits for those forces. We have heard that more forces are using their FMSs in the planning process, and that forces are addressing problems identified in their FMSs that they otherwise might not have identified.
There is of course room to improve. We want forces to use their FMSs to explain how well they are able to meet current demand, where they anticipate gaps in the ability to meet demand in future, and the steps they will take to address those gaps.
Forces have already made improvements. We look forward to continuing to work with them, to build on these improvements in the third round of FMSs, FMS2020.
HMI Phil Gormley
Co-Chair, FMS Steering Group
Foreword from Chief Constable Bill Skelly
I commend this FMS2 observations document to practitioners and chief officers alike. I have been involved in the development of the FMS for several years and I am encouraged by the willingness of both the service and HMICFRS to change and adapt the content, requirements and style as feedback has been received.
I see great value in the FMS as a tool for the service to articulate the challenges at a force level; the plans in place to endeavour to meet or mitigate those challenges; and the lessons from current activity. There is still considerable work to be done to align planning, reporting and inspection cycles and to continue to narrow the gap between the expectations held by the service and HMICFRS and the ability of either party to satisfy those expectations. Great strides have already been made.
The FMS steering group members are actively involved in shaping FMS 2020 and I am looking forward to working with HMICFRS colleagues to improve upon the hard work reflected in the observations contained in this document.
Chief Constable Bill Skelly
Co-Chair, FMS Steering Group
About this document
This document has been prepared on behalf of the National FMS Steering Group and mainly provides HMICFRS’s observations in respect of FMS2. The section that provides feedback from forces on FMS2 is drawn from feedback provided to NPCC and HMICFRS during a series of workshops. The document has been prepared through consultation between HMICFRS, the NPCC and the College of Policing. The observations:
- identify the strengths in forces’ approach to understanding demand and resources, and to planning;
- identify areas where some forces need to develop their approach to understanding demand and resources, and planning;
- inform the guidance to forces for FMS2020; and
- identify further development and support needs.
These observations draw together common strands from the feedback that HMICFRS has given to forces individually. Inevitably, not all these comments will be relevant to every FMS or force. Where possible, we have provided examples to illustrate our analysis.
This document is about how well forces achieved the objectives of their FMSs. It is a country-wide assessment of FMSs, not a detailed analysis of each one.
Each FMS is the chief constable’s self-assessment of the force in relation to:
- the demand the force expects to face over the following four years, crime and non-crime, latent as well as patent;
- the condition, capacity, capability, serviceability, performance, efficiency and security of supply of the force’s workforce and its other assets, over that period; and
- the financial resources the force expects to have available to it over the following four years.
FMSs also establish where the most significant pressures on forces are, and the extent and nature of demand that forces cannot adequately meet, or cannot meet at all.
The information in each FMS – certified as complete and accurate by the chief constable – forms an important part of what HMICFRS knows about that force. FMSs are part of our continuous monitoring regime. They provide us with information that we use, with other data we have about forces, in determining the risks faced by forces. That in turn feeds into our risk-based assessments and helps us design our inspections, using our resources most efficiently and effectively.
In 2020, we will adapt our police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL) programme so as to align it more closely with FMSs.
The purpose of a force management statement
HMICFRS requires FMSs for the purposes of inspection, both as pre-inspection information gathering and as evidence during inspections. For our Integrated PEEL Assessments (IPAs), they informed our risk assessment of a force and were part of the evidence we used when reaching our judgments. In our PEEL2020 programme, FMSs will continue to be valuable evidence sources in our continuous assessment of police forces. Along with our existing understanding of forces’ performance, they will play a significant part in our decisions as to where, when and to what extent we conduct fieldwork as part of our inspection of forces.
Each FMS is a self-assessment that the chief constable (and London equivalents) completes and gives to HMICFRS each year. It is the chief constable’s statement and explanation of:
- the demand the force expects to face in the next four years;
- how the force will change and improve the condition, capacity, capability, serviceability, performance, wellbeing and security of supply of its workforce and other assets to cope with that demand;
- how the force will make sure the gap between future demand and future capability is as small as it can reasonably be made to be; and
- the money the force expects to have to do all this.
We asked forces to provide this information using a four-step assessment.
The four steps for FMS2 were:
Step 1: Establish the gap between the force’s current demand and the demand it expected in the following four years.
Step 2: Establish the current status of the force’s workforce and other assets: their performance, condition, capacity, capability, serviceability, wellbeing and security of supply.
Step 3: Explain what the force will do to make sure its workforce and other assets will be able to meet its forecasted demand; this may be by changing the skills of the workforce, investing in new information and communications technology (ICT) and making efficiencies.
Step 4: State how much and what types of future demand the force does not expect to be able to meet, having made the changes and efficiencies in Step 3.
Summary of HMICFRS’s observations
FMS2 represented a considerable improvement on FMS1. Forces have risen to the challenge of FMSs, sending us statements that explain their expected demand and the actions being taken to meet that demand. FMS2s showed a better understanding of demand and a better assessment of forces’ workforces and assets. Where forces had gaps in their understanding, they told us about them in their statements or in our conversations with them. We are pleased to see these improvements.
Our observations on FMS2 reflect the fact that forces’ FMS responses are improving. FMS2 is more structured than FMS1 and so we, in turn, can offer a more structured response. Our observations also reflect our objectives for FMSs. We have recently sent forces the template for FMS2020. We want FMSs to be comprehensive assessments of how forces expect to meet future demand, and we have updated the template to reflect that. The observations in this document reflect the objectives of FMS2, but also the aspirations we have for FMS2020 and beyond.
No force’s FMS was uniformly strong. But many FMSs were good in parts – either because some chapters were strong, or because the force was good at responding to one or more of the four steps. Similarly, no FMS was uniformly weak.
Analysis, not description
An FMS is about how a force expects to meet its future demand with the money it expects to have. We ask forces to assess their workforce and other assets, because this is part of a force’s assessment of its readiness to meet future demand. In their FMSs, a number of forces correctly stated their assessments of their assets (including their workforces) by reference to the relevant seven aspects of asset stewardship. Regrettably, they did not go further and include their analyses of whether those assessments of condition, capacity and capability could or were likely to be sufficient to meet projected demand. That connection between assets and projected demand, and where they do not meet, is the essence of a sound FMS.
In FMS1, we found the FMS easier to read when a force included a risk assessment as part of its statement. These FMSs made it clearer why the forces were prioritising resources or effort in certain areas, and were prepared to deprioritise investment in others.
In FMS2, we specifically asked forces to include a risk assessment, and we circulated the model designed by Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire forces. Many forces used this model, or an amended version, to tell us about the risks they faced. Others used their existing risk assessments.
The first chapter of the FMS, on finance, did not require a four-step approach. FMSs were typically good in this respect and provided the information requested. Most forces were able to provide all the information required – as per the guidance, most of it is already included in each force’s medium-term financial plan. While the information provided varied between forces in terms of detail and analysis, it was typically more consistent than that in other chapters of FMSs.
In line with the financial plans, FMSs were predominantly descriptive. For FMS2020, we would like to see more analysis of whether the expected budget for the foreseeable future will be sufficient to meet any identified gaps in demand and, if not, what the force plans to do about it.
Step 1 – Establish the gap between current demand and demand in the next four years
Almost all forces were able to provide statistical evidence relating to the demand that they are currently dealing with across most areas. For example, they were able to state the number of incidents that they attend, and the volume of crimes and non-crime incidents that they deal with.
Not all crime is reported to the police. Known or patent demand is current and visible to the police. Hidden or latent demand is current but hidden from the police – it may be known to other agencies or it may be unreported. Although current, hidden demand is not something forces are currently responding to. It is a current risk but manifests itself as potential future demand on a force. In this document, we will use the terms ‘known’ and ‘hidden’ demand to refer to the two types.
We would have liked to have seen forces provide more analysis and assessment on those demands that may be hidden from the police. All forces should have good working relationships with statutory partners, businesses, and the voluntary sector, whose staff will often be aware of crimes, anti-social behaviour or other issues not reported to the police. This will provide a fuller assessment of hidden demand and the true level of risk.
We would also have liked to see more analysis and assessment of the extent to which interdependencies create demand between areas. The activities of external organisations can also create demand that forces may need to assess.
Stronger FMSs identified areas of rising, falling and stable demand, explaining how conclusions had been arrived at against the background of recent trends. Some forces also discussed expected changes in population, demographics and the local environment, and used statistical analysis or subject matter experts to quantify the forecast change in demand and evaluate their confidence in their conclusions.
Overall, most forces were better at describing current demand in different areas than at analysing or assessing how that demand might change over time.
Step 2 – Establish the current status of your workforce and other assets: their performance, condition, capacity, capability, serviceability, wellbeing and security of supply
All forces were able to give information about some aspects of the current status of their workforce and other assets.
They were typically good at providing descriptions of their workforce capacity and capability, including where the workforce required training or had already received it. Many forces also provided useful information on how well the workforce was performing, and on wellbeing. But we would have liked to see more analysis and assessment of these issues, rather than just numerical and descriptive data or information.
No force’s FMS assessed all seven aspects of asset stewardship. Often, FMSs gave little or no information on condition, serviceability or security of supply. Or forces gave us a description rather than an assessment. Some forces told us that they struggled with the definition of the seven terms. We have provided further guidance in FMS2020 to answer these concerns and will work with force practitioners during 2020 to resolve any remaining uncertainties.
The workforce is the most important asset in any police force, but it needs premises, vehicles and equipment to do its work. Some forces completely excluded other assets from their responses. They need to understand and assess the condition, capacity, capability, serviceability, performance and security of supply of other assets, as well as their workforces.
Step 3 – Explain what you will do to make sure your workforce and other assets will be able to meet the demand you are anticipating; this may be by changing the skills of your workforce, investing in new ICT and making efficiencies
When forces don’t have a clear understanding of known and hidden demand, this affects their ability to analyse and assess whether their plans will make their workforce and other assets ready to meet future demand.
Similarly, where forces don’t have a clear picture of all elements of their current asset stewardship, that affects their ability to analyse and assess what needs to change, and to explain why they have made the plans they have.
The guidance gave examples of what forces might do to meet demand – for example, changing the skills of the workforce, investing in new ICT or making efficiencies. All forces provided some descriptive information on the activity they were undertaking to improve efficiency or invest in their people and assets. Some are doing a great deal.
But, in most cases, forces did not explain what this activity would do to change the police response and meet future demand. We saw little assessment of the potential costs and disadvantages of change, either in financial terms or in terms of the impact on staff, victims and the wider public.
As the analysis and assessment in Steps 1 and 2 improve, we expect to see an improvement in the analysis made at Step 3.
Step 4 – State how much and what types of future demand you don’t expect to be able to meet, having made the changes and efficiencies in Step 3
When forces don’t have a clear understanding of future demand, don’t have a full picture of the state of their workforce and other assets, and haven’t fully assessed their ability to meet forecasted demand, it is not surprising that they find it difficult to say how much and what types of future demand they will be unable to meet.
Very few forces were able to give a clear answer to this question. In some cases, the FMS asserted that the force would meet future demand, but the information given in previous steps didn’t suggest that the force could be confident in reaching this conclusion. In other cases, the FMS highlighted the challenges the force faced and the actions it was taking, but didn’t identify the future demand that the force did not expect to meet.
Forces will be in a better position to provide an assessment at Step 4 if they have provided a fuller analysis at Steps 1 to 3. The completed FMS2s didn’t give us confidence that forces are effectively assessing the future demand that they won’t be able to meet.
When forces followed the four-step approach, we asked them to consider the wellbeing of their workforce separately at Step 2 of each chapter. The FMS also contained a dedicated chapter on force wellbeing.
Most forces described health and wellbeing as priorities, and told us about initiatives and activities to support officers and staff and create a healthy working environment. However, forces didn’t always tailor their assessments of wellbeing to that chapter. This means that forces varied in their ability to show us that they have an overview of the welfare of their workforces.
Feedback from forces on FMS2
A series of workshops were organised by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and HMICFRS to gather feedback from forces in preparation for FMS2 and again following their production. The feedback from forces presented here has been drawn from the summary note prepared by NPCC representatives.
Forces told us they regard the process of producing an FMS as a useful way of gaining insights, improving understanding and informing planning decisions. Senior leaders were generally receptive to FMS2 but the extent of their engagement in production and the candour in the statements varied. In many forces, the FMS is becoming a cornerstone of planning while in others it is treated as a pre-inspection requirement to be complied with.
The lack of force-specific feedback from HMICFRS on the form and content of the 2018 statement (FMS1) left forces unaware of how well their individual FMSs had met HMICFRS’s requirements. This was addressed for FMS2 in 2019 with all forces who requested it receiving individual feedback.
A lack of clarity about the alignment and use of FMSs in inspection programmes, particularly PEEL, led to a further perceived lack of clarity about HMICFRS’s expectations of the FMS process. The guidance for FMS2020 includes clarification about how the FMS and inspection programmes align.
Each force had dedicated certain people to co-ordinate the production of the FMS. However, the number of people and their approach to the work varied.
The production of the FMS generally took between three and five months and the work required by different departments varied considerably. The work to produce FMS2 coincided with the end of the accounting year and its associated work, and it was particularly difficult to manage in those forces with a concurrent PEEL inspection.
Those forces that had used the final (post-consultation) FMS1 template welcomed the similarities in the FMS2 template, and the assistance this gave them in starting to produce the FMS2 and take proper advantage of what they learned from FMS1.
There was consensus that the understanding of demand for services has improved between FMS1 and FMS2 but recognition that further improvements are needed, particularly in the forecasting and assessment of future demand. There was considerable variation in the approaches used to forecast demand, and varying confidence in the precision and reliability of the forecasts.
Forces reported that limited progress had been made in understanding the capacity, capability and condition of the workforce and assets. There were few attempts to forecast and assess future needs and, because chapters of the FMS template are not discrete, it was difficult to accurately attribute the workforce and assets to the various parts of the statement.
The risk ratings, introduced for FMS2, were undertaken using a variety of different approaches and focused on different issues. For example, some forces focused on issues of highest operational need whereas others focused on shortcomings in resources, workforce or assets. In the view of the practitioners, the risk ratings should be seen as an adjunct to the statement rather than a summary of it, and they do not remove the need to read the FMS in full.
Many forces would like to make the FMS the cornerstone of their planning processes. Others would like to develop it so that it will fulfil the requirement for a strategic assessment, or to incorporate other planning processes into it.
These observations identify several different development needs that forces have highlighted to be able to continue to build on the improvements made to date. These are:
- the development of a common framework to assess the quality of an FMS;
- technical advice about how to project demand, and forecast and assess workforce and assets (capacity, capability, condition, wellbeing, performance, serviceability and security of supply);
- how to reflect environmental scanning and futures thinking when assessing future demand and resources;
- a clear description of the risk that is being assessed in the risk assessment; and
- the process of producing an FMS, including documenting and drafting.
The first chapter in the FMS template was on finance. This is fundamental to an FMS. Descriptions of proposed projects and initiatives have little value unless the force can fund them.
The finance chapter differed from the other chapters in that we did not ask forces to follow the four-step approach. Instead, we asked them to describe their current financial position, projected changes in income and expenditure, and gaps in financial plans that exist, or are likely to exist, because of current and future demand.
Most forces responded well to this chapter, and gave a good descriptive assessment. The quality of responses was relatively consistent; very few were weak.
Annex 2 to the FMS2 guidance explained that the financial assessment should, whenever possible, be set against each category of current and future demand. We asked forces to describe:
- the extent to which your force is making best use of its financial resources;
- your assessment of the financial implications of future demand for each category;
- how you propose to mitigate or manage any major financial risks; and
- an organisation-wide financial assessment.
How much each force engaged with these more analytical requirements varied considerably. For example:
One force set out a comprehensive picture of its finances. There were four sections: (i) revenue budget (including assumptions and forecast of revenue); (ii) workforce plan; (iii) capital programme; and (iv) reserves strategy. The summary also explained how financial challenges were becoming more difficult because of increases in the volume and complexity of criminal activity.
Another force provided a chart that detailed its medium-term financial outlook between 2019/20 and 2022/23. This chart came without a narrative and did not make any conclusions on the financial position.
Although there were responses of different lengths that provided good levels of detail, we considered the second response was too limited.
Most forces were better at description than analysis. They were better at describing their current and future finances than at analysing or assessing how they use their financial resources, looking at the financial implications of future demand, or offering an overall assessment. For FMS2020, we would like to see more analysis of whether the forecasted budget over the foreseeable future will be sufficient to meet any identified gaps in demand and, if not, what the force plans to do.
Completing the FMS – Step 1: How well have forces identified the gap between current and future demand?
At Step 1 in each chapter of the report (except the first, on finance) we asked forces to:
“establish the gap between current demand and demand you expect in the next four years.”
The key to this step is making a worthwhile estimate about future demand. Without a worthwhile assessment of likely future demand, forces cannot intelligently plan for the future.
Most forces were good at providing a description of the most obvious forms of known, current demand. Almost all provided statistical evidence relating to current demand across most areas. For example, they were able to state the number of incidents they attend and the volume of crimes and non-crime incidents they deal with.
However, the analysis of demand varied considerably across the chapters in any given FMS. Some chapters had clear and compelling analyses, while others did not. Some forces used crime complexity to understand how crime was changing and what this meant for the work their staff and officers conducted.
Given this variation in every FMS we assessed, we would not say that any force adequately showed a full understanding of the demand it was dealing with. This is something that we hope will improve in FMS2020.
Other ways of analysing demand
The FMS2 guidance provided a comprehensive description of what forces should consider when describing current and future demand.
- crime and non-crime, proactive and preventative, known and hidden;
- how the force works with other public and private bodies to prevent anti-social behaviour, crime and disorder, including by collaborating formally as well as informally; and
- the force’s relationship with other agencies (for example, local authorities and public bodies concerned with health, education, social services and housing), because what they do, or don’t do, can have a positive or negative effect on demand.
No force was able to provide a compelling picture of current demand against all these descriptions.
There were, however, examples of forces thinking more widely, such as:
One force considered a range of factors to assess demand in its ‘Prevention and deterrence’ chapter. It identified 39 geographic impact areas, which were characterised by disproportionate levels of demand in terms of crime and harm. Its analysis showed that 25 percent of all crime, 30 percent of all violence and 33 percent of homicides occurred in these areas, which represent only 7 percent of the force’s geographic area.
The FMS explained that these impact areas provided opportunities to focus force resources through a holistic approach in the areas of highest need, demand and harm over the next 12 months.
We found this analysis useful, and it will help shape our inspection of the force’s effectiveness and efficiency. As noted above, we asked forces to tell us, at Step 1, how much they focused on preventing crime, managing demand and early intervention.
This was a good example of a force that did, but many did not. In general, forces focused too narrowly on the data recorded in their computer systems. They didn’t generally tell us how much work they did on managing demand and early intervention. Nor did many forces tell us about how they worked with other public and private bodies either to affect demand or to monitor the level of demand and how the action or inaction of other agencies might affect it. We hope that they will do so in FMS2020.
Identifying hidden demand
The FMS2 guidance asked forces to consider hidden demand. However, it was rare to see an analysis of the extent to which the force understood the true demand, or a description of work it was doing to identify hidden demand.
For example, domestic abuse in a force area will be a priority for many statutory and non-statutory agencies and organisations, and forces work closely with these agencies and organisations to protect victims and prevent abuse. But not all these victims will be known to the police. For instance:
One force assessed the demand for rape and serious sexual assaults as the number of crimes recorded by the force.
The force would no doubt acknowledge that there may be offences in this area that are not reported to the police. But in its assessment of demand the force provided no details about what work (if any) it was doing with partners to identify hidden demand, or locally to raise awareness or provide public safety information.
Another FMS said that the force “recorded almost 37,000 domestic abuse crimes in 2017, and in 2018 this increased to 45,704”.
The section then discussed some of the offending behaviours identified by the force, including child on parent abuse or abuse in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The reference to offending behaviours here is encouraging, because it demonstrates that the force is going beyond recorded crime and looking at a wider range of offending when assessing its demand.
However, we would have liked to have seen some evidence or analysis of the police’s work with others to determine what hidden demand exists (and is potentially known to other agencies), and what action is being, or will be, taken to manage this potential risk.
For FMS2020, we hope to see forces providing more information along these lines, and incorporating hidden demand in their analysis and assessment of both current risk and future demand.
FMSs are about the demand a force expects over the coming years, an assessment of the resources it has to meet that demand, and the decisions it is taking given the money it expects to have. A force’s forecast of demand is integral to an FMS setting out the reasons the force is taking the decisions it is.
We asked forces to establish the gap between current demand and the demand they expected in the next four years.
Most forces were better at describing current demand than at analysing or assessing how that demand would change over time in different demand areas. Too often, forces simply said that it was difficult to forecast future changes, or estimated that demand in a specific area would increase without explaining or quantifying that view.
We recognise that forecasting the future is not easy. And if the underlying data isn’t good enough to forecast, it might not be possible to make statistical forecasts. But it is important for forces to explain the assumptions they are making about future demand. Without an understanding of the demand they expect in future, forces cannot explain how their assets need to change.
We give examples later in this document of forces whose lack of proper analysis at Step 1 undermined their ability to respond meaningfully at Steps 3 and 4.
One force said:
“There have been at least 2,000 reported missing episodes every year since 2009. Demand has continued to grow year on year since 2016, with 2,926 missing episodes reported by the end of December 2018. The rolling six-month average is approximately 270 missing episodes per month, higher than at any time in the last nine years. Data collected to date suggests that missing demand will continue to grow. In February 2019, 245 people were recorded as missing, compared to 198 in February 2018.”
We give this example because the force provided a fairly detailed description of historic and current demand in relation to missing persons. It is clear the force has considered recent trends. Other information provided in the FMS also made clear that the force understood the background and characteristics of missing persons: they were often young, had multiple missing events, and were often looked-after children.
However, the forecast of future demand was limited to a comment that “missing demand will continue to grow”. We would have liked to see the force provide a forecast for future demand using information about multiple missing events and other information from partner agencies, such as social services, and use this to provide an assessment of steps it could take to manage demand.
We also asked forces to review the forecasts they made in FMS1. Not all forces did this, but those who did generally also provided an analysis of why the actual demand had differed from the forecasted demand. Forces used this information to influence their latest forecasts.
Using environmental scanning and subject matter experts
Environmental scanning techniques identify future scenarios when little or no data exists. Similarly, drawing on the experience of subject matter experts can help to assess future demand when statistical data is lacking.
A small number of forces included these types of assessment for anticipated future changes and described how they expected these changes to affect demand:
One force had conducted environmental scanning and considered socio-economic issues, such as the changing nature of population across the county and the development of high-profile national infrastructure (HS2), which was likely to bring large numbers of workers into the county. There had also been increased awareness of growth in crimes against older people and a likely increase in cyber-dependent and cyber-enabled crime. The force is placing officers in dedicated roles to carry out support and preventative work.
Another force included charts in many chapters that showed historical trend data for the past four years, with key points of change such as crime data integrity inspections highlighted. The force provided ‘straight line’ statistical forecasts for the next four years, with a second line showing the expected trend estimated by the subject matter expert.
We don’t know which method is best for police forces to project future demand. This is something we will continue to review with forces to understand how and where different approaches help inform discussions about how to resource units. Forces telling us how good the forecasts they made in FMS2 turned out to be will help us with this work.
Statistical analysis and confidence intervals
Indicating confidence intervals for forecasts was particularly helpful, because they indicate the degree of uncertainty.
Many of the stronger responses presented their conclusions in graphical format, indicating the expected demand alongside upper and lower confidence intervals to demonstrate the degree of risk involved in their forecast. For example:
In its ‘Protecting vulnerable people’ chapter, a force provided a series of graphs for different crime types, each of which clearly showed the forecasted future demand, along with the upper and lower confidence levels.
In the ‘Investigations’ chapter, another force provided a series of graphs for different types of investigation, each of which showed upper and lower confidence levels over the next four years. With the graphs was a clear description of which areas were new or increasing demands, which were stable, which were decreasing, and which were a result of process changes in the force.
In FMS2020, forces will be encouraged to use statistical forecasts, preferably including confidence intervals or best and worst-case scenarios.
Completing the FMS – Step 2: How well have forces established the current status of their workforce and other assets?
In the Step 2 analysis for each chapter, forces were to consider seven elements of asset stewardship. We asked them to:
“establish the current status of your workforce and other assets: their performance, condition, capacity, capability, serviceability, wellbeing and security of supply.”
We also asked them to distinguish the wellbeing of the workforce from other assets.
Forces were typically better at describing the number of staff and their seniority, where they worked, and their qualifications or accreditations, and weaker at offering analysis or assessment of what this means in practice – that is, whether it is a high-performing team that has all the assets it needs to meet current and anticipated future demand.
All forces addressed some of the seven aspects of asset stewardship. But no force’s FMS covered all seven of them.
A really good FMS should assess each of these elements separately. For example, regarding the capability of members of the workforce: what is it they can do, what are their skills – and do they meet the demands of the relevant area? Regarding the security of supply of the workforce: is it difficult to recruit into the area, and how rapidly can the force bring in staff with appropriate skills to meet surges in demand?
A workforce needs other assets to do its job: premises, storage units and garages, furniture, uniforms, firearms, personal protective equipment, vehicles, communications devices, scientific equipment, and a wide range of information management systems and associated technology. Forces need to assess the condition, capacity, capability, serviceability, performance and security of supply of these assets, but many Step 2 responses left these out completely.
One point of feedback from forces was that they struggled to distinguish between some aspects of performance, condition, capacity, capability, serviceability, wellbeing and security of supply. In some FMSs, forces appeared to use the terms ‘condition’, ‘capacity’ or ‘capability’ to reflect a general sense that the force was able to do something – for example:
“The force’s current condition to deal with Serious Organised Crime is good.”
We agree that these terms need clearer definitions and have included some in the FMS2020 guidance. We will also work with force practitioners to refine these definitions and resolve any remaining uncertainties.
To show forces how we review each element, this document considers each separately.
Capacity – workforce
Workforce capacity is about how much work the workforce can do. Forces need to understand the capacity of their workforce so that they can identify risks arising from increases or surges in workload, or changes in demand patterns.
Most forces were able to provide some information about this.
A simple example of how capacity was assessed is the ‘50/20 rule’ in public protection, referenced by many forces. This says that public protection officers have capacity to manage no more than 50 offenders, of whom no more than 20 should be high-risk offenders. This ‘rule’, along with the number of public protection officers, was used to assess whether the workforce had the capacity to meet current demand.
How much ‘work’ a force has to do is not the same thing as ‘demand’. For example, the number of incidents could remain stable (so demand is the same) but because processes change – for example, more information needs to be recorded for each incident, the amount of work increases, reducing capacity.
A good example of this is as follows:
One force identified that an increasing proportion of safeguarding work required a domestic abuse, stalking, harassment and honour-based violence (DASH) assessment. It recognised that this increased the overall amount of work required to respond to its typical caseload. This is not to say that the force was unsupportive of DASH assessments – but it was right to identify that the work involved affects capacity. Identifying this will enable it to plan better for the future.
Capacity is also different from performance, although the two are interrelated. For example, leave, training and accreditation at certain times of the year may mean the force’s capacity during that time will be lower, although the performance of the remaining staff may be excellent. Forces need to know about capacity to plan for daily or seasonal fluctuations in demand. They also need to consider the extent to which they could temporarily reassign the workforce in one demand area to meet urgent high-priority demand in other areas, and to factor that into their capacity assessments.
Forces should describe capacity and not demand. Some forces described capacity by reference to unmet demand rather than by saying how much the workforce could do.
Many forces described demand areas in which there were many roles not currently filled. Forces are right to identify this as affecting capacity. However, identifying that there are efforts to increase staff numbers does not replace the need to explain how much work the current workforce can do.
One force described an improvement in capacity whereby technology was enabling the workforce to work more efficiently to deal with call handling demand.
This example would better have described current capacity if it had explained the level of call handling demand that the workforce was currently able to meet.
One force set out the average number of cases that a vetting analyst will deal with monthly. It then linked this to its assessment of demand and suggested that, to meet future demand, its capacity would need to increase by a further two full-time equivalent analysts to maintain the same caseload per analyst ratio in future.
Another force set out how it configured its child sexual exploitation teams and described a multi-agency team that worked in this area and where it was based in the county. The force also provided caseloads for the teams.
In both examples, we would have liked to see an assessment of whether those caseloads are manageable with the capacity described.
Forces used a variety of measures to assess capacity. For example:
One force referred to industry standards for call handling work when looking at the capacity of staff to respond to requests for service.
Another force told us that it had benchmarked capacity against the most similar group of forces, and had found that caseloads were similar.
These are both good ways to analyse the capacity of a workforce.
It was also good to see forces explain the impact of the interrelationship between capacity and performance.
For FMS2020, we would like forces to set out not just the workforce that they currently have but also their assessment of the capacity of that workforce to meet current demand.
Capacity – other assets
The capacity of a force’s other assets is about how much work those assets can do, or how they affect the amount of work that the workforce can do. It includes the question of whether the force has the right equipment or other assets to meet demand.
For example, some forces told us about making body-worn video available to all officers, or about increases in Taser provision. Another told us about the way it uses airwave radio ‘talk groups’ to best meet overall demand.
Overall, very few forces provided enough information about the capacity of their equipment. For example, some forces told us about planned upgrades to ICT at Step 3, but had not explained fully at Step 2 the extent to which current systems limited the force’s capacity to get work done. For FMS2020, we would like to see forces set out current capacity so the force can assess the effect of any changes.
Capability – workforce
Workforce capability is about what work the workforce is able to do. This is dependent on their skills and training. Skills might relate to response, investigation, roads policing, public order, firearms, child protection, neighbourhood, crime scene investigation, intelligence and analysis, leadership, management and supervision, business planning, or financial and commercial acuity.
Forces need to understand the capability of their workforces to make sure they have the right people with the right training and experience in the right places for the demands they face.
Higher levels of capability may, in some areas, improve performance and capacity. But it is not the same thing. For example, individuals may have secondary capabilities that they do not use in their current role. Or their capabilities may have other valuable effects. For example, skills in leadership, management and supervision may improve the wellbeing of the workforce, and training in understanding the needs of vulnerable people is likely to improve outcomes for protecting vulnerable people units.
Most forces were good at telling us about the capability of their workforce, often providing detailed descriptions of their training and skills.
The best answers in individual chapters didn’t just address the capabilities of the staff working in a demand area, but also capabilities relevant to that area across the force. For example:
One force told us that it found it difficult to make sure that it had enough response officers with the standard response driver qualification. It explained that response officers were more likely to be new to the service and not yet qualified.
Another good example was the force that described maintaining identified levels of staff with a spread of specialist skills who can support frontline police officers dealing with major events and civil emergencies.
The good responses also demonstrated that the forces had identified and introduced new capabilities rather than simply maintaining existing ones. For example, one response on investigations described new capability in mobile phone data downloads (using kiosks) and computer triage.
The weaker responses simply told us that a programme of regular training was in place. This did not demonstrate that the force understood what level of capability the workforce had, or needed. Sometimes, responses on these lines were at such a general level that they didn’t make clear what skills the training would develop.
For FMS2020, we want forces to provide a clearer assessment of the skills and training that officers and staff need for their respective areas, along with analysis of whether the current skills and training are at the level required.
Capability – other assets
The capability of a force’s other assets is about what those assets can do.
Forces were often best at describing capability in relation to ICT and other scientific and technological developments, and in relation to new equipment. They told us about new technology that makes more information available to neighbourhood police officers on mobile patrol, about the increasing use of artificial intelligence and computer learning, and about intelligence capabilities. They also told us about developments in their ability to recover evidence at the scenes of crimes.
It was also good to see forces identifying an inability to access information as a capability issue:
One force told us that it had previously identified a gap in its ability to ascertain the numbers of adequately trained staff to deal with public order incidents. This was because of the ICT system shared with a neighbouring force. The FMS sets out that a new joint human resources system will address this gap, so that both forces can access training records and skill sets.
But forces were sometimes better at explaining the capabilities of new equipment and technology they had already obtained than they were at telling us about other capabilities. Some forces told us at Step 3 that they had plans for new investment to improve capability, but they had not told us about the existing capability or its limitations at Step 2.
For FMS2020, forces should make sure they consider the capability of all relevant equipment and other assets, especially when there are gaps in capability.
Serviceability, wellbeing and condition
Serviceability and wellbeing are about what it takes – in money, time and effort – to look after the workforce and other assets, to ensure they operate at their best. Wellbeing relates principally to the workforce, whereas serviceability is a more appropriate term to describe other assets. Condition relates to a workforce’s physical fitness and impairments. It also includes matters such as professional attainments and seniority. The condition of a force’s other assets is about their functionality and reliability: whether they are doing everything they are designed to do.
Wellbeing and condition – workforce
Wellbeing was a particularly important part of FMS2. We asked forces to distinguish the wellbeing of the workforce from other assets in each chapter. In addition, there was a dedicated wellbeing chapter where forces applied the full four-step analysis.
Because forces conducted a wider analysis of wellbeing, we have provided separate feedback on how they addressed this, dealing with both Step 2a of each chapter and the dedicated wellbeing chapter.
Forces need to know about condition because of their duty of care to their staff, including the impact on wellbeing, and because of the effect it has on their ability to provide their services.
Some forces were able to demonstrate a very good understanding of the condition of their workforces. For example:
One force said in its ‘Responding to the public’ chapter: “Response work is increasingly high impact, with the lower threat, risk and harm calls resolved without a deployment; this can affect officer welfare. Rural policing can mean some response officers work largely alone and suffer from isolation. During 2018, 802 assaults were recorded against our workforce, an increase from 724 during 2017; this resulted in 208 working days lost. This is all staff but a large proportion of these are in response roles. Response officers suffer high levels of muscular skeletal injury, linked to the wearing of heavy PPE and carrying operational equipment.”
This was a clear and comprehensive response, addressing both workforce condition and aspects of wellbeing. It provides some statistical evidence, but also an overall assessment of the wider picture: it is analytical rather than simply descriptive.
Having this information at Step 2 means the force can consider how its assets need to change to meet future demand at Step 3. It also helps it to understand how the workforce will be affected by changes in demand, working practices and equipment.
Other forces described how they assessed the condition of their workforce, but did not go on to offer an assessment. For example:
One force said: “The current condition of the workforce is measured through regular one-to-one meetings between staff members and line managers and any issues identified by staff are picked up through the annual staff survey.”
The force could have strengthened this information by providing more analysis of what the meetings focus on, and how they lead to change at a local or force level.
Serviceability and condition – other assets
The condition of a force’s other assets is about their functionality and reliability: whether they are doing everything they are designed to do, and how often they fail or break. Here is a good example of a force addressing this in its chapter on force-wide functions:
“The condition of the estate varies considerably, with some small locations being in poor condition and, at the other extreme, where we have new or recently refurbished buildings the conditions are excellent. £2.7m of funding each year has been allocated in the MTFF for capital maintenance and upgrades to the Force Estate. Reduced forecast capital budget availability to the Force in the next four years means a significant proportion of this funding is at risk.”
The force could have improved this response by telling us what effect the condition of its locations had on its ability to meet demand, including reference to the safety and wellbeing of staff. For example, the new or refurbished buildings might allow better ways of working, better meet the needs of victims, or allow better joint working with other parts of the force – or a failure to maintain the estate might mean that more was being spent on emergency repairs, or that parts of the estate were unusable or in a condition that affected wellbeing.
Forces were also better at telling us about equipment that was in poor condition than equipment that was in good working order. It was fine to tell us, as one force did in one chapter:
“The equipment used is in good order and fit for the purposes required.”
Too many forces left this out entirely, or didn’t consider their non-human assets within some chapters at all.
The serviceability of a force’s other assets is about what it takes, in terms of time, money and other assets to maintain them.
Some forces discussed this in relation to the maintenance and refurbishment programmes on their estates. Some also discussed it in relation to the work needed to keep their ICT up to date and secure. And some forces told us about funding taken away from maintenance and upgrades and given to higher-priority activities. But there were numerous chapters in which forces did not address serviceability at all.
In particular, while many forces told us about plans to invest in new equipment, technology or other assets at Step 3, few told us about the serviceability of their existing assets at Step 2. This meant that it was not always clear whether the maintenance cost or planned new equipment would be higher or lower.
Workforce – security of supply
Security of supply is about how resilient the overall capacity of the force is in terms of meeting demand. In the context of the workforce, this means whether forces have effective recruitment planning and processes to identify the people and skills they need. Can the force recruit, train and deploy new members of the workforce, or otherwise attract and appoint the right people when needed?
Forces need to understand this to plan for the future, especially in areas where recruitment of suitably skilled people is difficult, or training and accreditation are time-consuming.
This is an issue for forces. As we said in the chapter on capacity, many forces told us about unfilled roles and plans to expedite recruitment. For example, they told us about the steps they are taking to fill the ‘detective gap’ – the difference between the number of detective roles a force needs and the number of detectives it has.
But forces were often better at telling us about unfilled roles, and the effect on capacity, than they were at telling us about security of supply. Few forces got to the heart of this issue by telling us how long it takes them to fill roles in each demand area and how difficult it is.
Often it was clear that forces do understand that security of supply is important, because they told us about measures they were taking to improve it. For example:
One force told us about a fast-track recruitment programme for detectives. To improve security of supply, the force took measures to increase the number of successful candidates and the speed with which they could be deployed, including academic support, financial support and protected learning time to improve the quality and number of candidates. The force had a schedule for when it expected to close its detective gap.
However, we would also like to see a greater analysis of the overall security of supply within a given area, rather than just an explanation of what the force is doing to address current difficulties.
For FMS2020, we would like forces to set out their assessments of workforce recruitment and retention, and training and skills levels, along with assessments of what they are doing to address any gaps or concerns.
Security of supply – other assets
The security of supply of a force’s other assets is about how resilient the force is in securing the assets required to meet expected demand. In the context of non-workforce assets, this is about factors such as availability, lead times, and the number of potential suppliers.
For example, the security of supply of a force’s estate involves considering when leases are due for renewal, the likelihood that existing premises will remain available, the availability of other suitable premises, and the amount of time that it takes to identify, procure and fit out new premises when needed.
Few forces told us much about security of supply in relation to their non-human assets, although some told us about improvements in procurement times. For FMS2020, we would like forces to tell us about security of supply in relation to their full range of assets.
Performance – workforce and other assets
We asked forces to establish the status of their workforce and other assets in several ways. The first one we asked forces to assess was performance.
At Step 2, we asked forces to assess the performance of their workforce and other assets, across multiple chapters.
We recognise that the work of police officers and police staff is often complex and highly skilled. Performance is about quality as well as quantity of outcome or output, and the effects of high performance in police work can be long-term and hidden.
Assessing the performance in each FMS chapter also needs to consider the other indicators of asset stewardship. Assessing performance is not just about telling us performance indicators but assessing if the force’s performance is what it would have expected given the condition, capability, capacity, wellbeing, serviceability and security of supply.
Most forces were able to give a good description of how they measured their performance in at least some chapters. They used a variety of techniques to assess this:
One force explained that its performance in relation to domestic abuse had improved over the previous 12 months. It provided data in relation to conviction rates; the number of cases referred to multi-agency risk assessment conferences; the number of arrests made (broken down for high, medium and standard-risk cases); the number of assessments awaiting review; the number of domestic violence protection orders issued; and the results of the domestic abuse victims’ satisfaction survey.
This kind of response shows that the force is looking at a range of indicators to assess its performance.
Another example of good practice was using measures of performance that included information and data that aren’t considered standard:
One force used a ‘big data’ analysis of its burglary attendance figures. This showed that it attended more burglaries than other forces, but didn’t generally spend long there and had a poor outcome rate. Examining this non-standard performance information helped identify performance issues.
Again, the use of a different technique enabled the force to provide a more accurate reflection of true performance. The force’s attendance figures did not tell the whole story.
However, many other forces focused on statistical measures at the expense of assessment and analysis. While it is important that a force backs up any assessment with concrete information, in FMS2020 we would like to see an overall assessment of performance in each chapter.
Completing the FMS – Step 3: How well have forces explained what they will do to make sure their workforce and other assets will be able to meet their future demand?
At Step 3 in each chapter of the report (except the first, on finance), we asked forces to:
“explain what you will do to make sure your workforce and other assets will be able to meet the demand you are anticipating; this may be by changing the skills of your workforce, investing in new ICT and making efficiencies.”
This is the final information that HMICFRS needs to understand how well-placed a force will be to meet future demand. Having identified future demand, and knowing what demand its workforce and other assets can currently meet, the remaining factor is how the workforce and other assets are going to change over time.
Most forces were able to provide information in each chapter about their plans for the future. The best responses provided analysis and assessment of how they thought those plans were going to change the performance, condition, capacity, capability, serviceability, wellbeing and security of supply of their workforce and other assets. They also assessed whether, or to what extent, they would be able to meet future demand.
Not all forces carried out this analysis. Too many forces simply listed initiatives without analysing what effect they expected them to have. In some cases, they didn’t even explain what they involved.
It was also clear to us that, if a force hadn’t demonstrated a clear understanding of likely future demand and the current state of its assets, it was less likely to be able to provide an assessment at Step 3 that builds on Steps 1 and 2. As forces improve their responses at Steps 1 and 2, Step 3 will become easier to complete.
Good Step 3 analysis:
- explains what changes the force plans to make;
- explains what effect these changes will have on the performance, condition, capacity, capability, serviceability, wellbeing and security of supply of its workforce and other assets;
- explains the relationship between the changes and its assessment of future demand; and
- considers any possible negative effects of the changes, as well as the expected benefits.
This section looks at examples of each of these aspects of the analysis in turn.
What the force will do
Many forces were good at explaining what they were doing or had already done.
Forces were often better at explaining the current position than what they expected to happen in the future. It was a weakness at Step 3, which is all about the future. For example:
One force set out, across five pages, information relating to neighbourhood policing in its response to Step 3. However, all the information provided set out what the force was already doing or had done against the background of current demand. There was no analysis of what the force expects to do in the next few years to meet future demand.
It is of course appropriate to deal with what forces are already doing if this is going to influence the workforce or other assets over time. For example, if a force has created posts or procured equipment, this may not have changed what demand it can yet meet. But we expect Step 3 to describe the problem and plans to fix it, as well as changes the force has already made.
Some forces did not clearly explain what they were going to do, although these were a small minority of cases:
One force’s FMS simply said: “We continually review our response and capability in respect of honour-based violence, female genital mutilation and forced marriage together with partners so that any change in demand can be quickly identified and managed.”
This contribution contains no plans for change. It is true that, for this FMS, the number of identified incidents was low (about 30 cases per year). But the FMS said that there had been no prosecutions, which suggests there is scope for improvement. It was therefore surprising that this force did not tell us what improvements or changes it could make to meet expected future demand.
There were also examples where forces identified future demands at Step 1, but didn’t really explain how it was going to address them at Step 3:
One FMS analysed Step 3 by reference to the categories of serious and organised crime. But these did not include child sexual exploitation, fraud, firearms or human trafficking. All these were areas of demand that forces mentioned in the Step 1 analysis.
The introductory section said: “We have developed a strategic assessment to address the issues associated with serious and organised crime which focuses upon organised criminal groups (OCGs), drugs, firearms and cyber-crime. All these areas have been scored within the strategic assessment utilising the MoRiLE (management of risk in law enforcement) matrix, with the highest scoring being OCGs associated with firearms and drugs.”
Given the reference to firearms in the introduction, it was disappointing to see that for Step 3 there was no mention of firearms and very little assessment and analysis of how the force would tackle drug-related offending in the years ahead.
The effect of what the force will do
Having set out what they intend to do, forces should explain the effect they expect their changes will have. This is a central part of explaining how they will “make sure [their] workforce and other assets will be able to meet the demand” they expect to face. Many forces did attempt this, although some did not do so consistently.
A good response would show that the force was thinking about changes that would affect the performance, condition, capacity, capability, serviceability, wellbeing and security of supply of their workforce and other assets, and was considering what the effects on all these would be.
The best responses did analyse the effects of changes in many or all of these areas, although they did not necessarily use these labels. The chapters in which forces analysed their plans in this way were the ones that appeared best to demonstrate that the force had thought widely about a range of changes needed for their workforce and other assets to respond to future demand.
There were examples of forces doing this well across all the chapters in the FMS template:
One force described a range of changes it was making in prevention and deterrence. The FMS said that “future demand for Neighbourhood Policing Team resources will increasingly focus on ‘Early Intervention’ in a multi-agency approach, as research into ‘Troubled Families’ and ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’ has shown that early intervention has the potential to reduce future offending (and thereby future demand into force)”. It then provided a detailed assessment of the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences in children flagged at risk of child sexual exploitation.
The FMS then set out a very detailed description of the activities that were underway or being developed by the force to improve its understanding of demand in this area, and of how it would meet it in future. These activities related to the seven elements of asset stewardship: analytical support; collaboration with other emergency services; a review of processes relating to domestic abuse; a new community engagement strategy; using new police powers more effectively to make better use of police community support officers; a new charter to support education establishments; and increasing training for neighbourhood policing team officers and staff.
This example shows that the force was thinking widely about the range of changes needed to respond to future demand. It is better than many other examples in that it does not simply list plans, but considers how they will affect the workforce and other assets. But it could be improved by linking these activities to expected future demand.
Another force described using its futures programme 2020 to drive through changes to investigations. These changes included aspects of the seven elements of asset stewardship: development and introduction of new policies; a redesigned force operating model; organisational restructuring; training; and cultural changes to encourage every officer to think of themselves as an investigator.
The police and crime commissioner is supporting this work, and has ring-fenced £3m to improve investigations and the detection of crime, including residential burglary and other key priorities.
The FMS then details (over three pages) the other activities that will be taking place to improve outcomes and performance. It is clear from the detailed descriptions that the force is considering a wide range of changes. Proposed changes include gathering information about victim satisfaction, which will increase understanding of performance in the future.
As this example demonstrates, not all the changes that forces described involved high levels of financial commitment: changes to the working culture may also be an important part of Step 3. Once again, an even stronger example would link these activities and initiatives to expected future demand.
Link between the force’s plans for change and expected future demand
The best Step 3 responses were those that most clearly articulated the link between the force’s plans for change and its expected future demand. In other words, the best responses explained how the changes they were making would enable them to meet expected demand, or what level of future demand they would be able to meet at appropriate stages over the next four years.
This was the area in which forces were most likely to fall short. In many instances, we found the FMS would be stronger if it linked the activities described to expected future demand.
Part of the reason for this was that the response in Step 3 depends on Steps 1 and 2. If forces failed to articulate the level of demand that they expected to face or their assets were currently able to meet, it was understandably difficult to assess the impact of any changes and whether they would be enough to meet future demand. And if forces had not identified current hidden demand, their assessment of the extent to which their assets would be capable of meeting demand was necessarily incomplete.
Some of the weakest responses were those that simply stated that there were ongoing challenges. These responses did not engage meaningfully with the question at Step 3 at all.
Other forces – too many – said that they expected to meet future demand, but didn’t give an analysis that satisfied us that they had a good reason for coming to this conclusion.
There were, however, some forces that made a good attempt to link their plans for change with the expected future demand:
One force gave a well-articulated response when dealing with multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPAs).
Its FMS was clear that “unless there are changes to statutory requirements or national guidelines, the predicted increase in MAPPA demand will require either additional staff, or significant changes in ways of working”.
The step then goes on to detail how many additional offender managers the force will need over the next five years to maintain a level of 50 registered sex offenders per offender manager. The analysis highlights that the increased demand will also require additional violent and sex offender register (ViSOR) and MAPPA administrative staff, and supervisory resources at detective sergeant and detective inspector levels.
The FMS says that a review is underway to identify options for how the force can meet this forecasted growth in demand.
In the meantime, the force is undertaking a range of initiatives to manage demand and ensure that the right capabilities are in place. The FMS provides a clear description of these activities.
It is clear that this force has a very good understanding of the demand it expects in the future and the changes it needs to make to meet that demand. The force is not ready to make decisions, so it isn’t yet able to say what it will do to meet forecasted demand. Yet it has demonstrated that it understands the options (additional staff or significant changes in ways of working) and has set out what it will do to come up with an evidence-based plan.
Most significantly, this response quantifies the effect of potential change – for example, by identifying the level of additional staff the force requires if there are no changes to the legal and policy framework or to ways of working. Too many other forces told us about plans to increase resources – for example, by increasing the number of roles – but did not give any justification for the number of roles created or explain how much more demand these new roles would enable them to meet.
Unfortunately, not all forces were able to analyse how their plans related to their forecasts of the future:
One force’s Step 3 discussion on incident response set out the activities that area is undertaking. For example, it said that “the force has increased its recruitment aspiration by 250 additional officers by 2023; it has revised its crewing and deployment plan; it is investing in new technology; and it is providing additional training to officers.”
This example was much more typical of Step 3 responses. The force is doing a great deal. It is making investments. It seems likely, from the information in the report, that the changes that the force is making will be for the better. What is missing, however, is any clear explanation of what these investments will achieve and how much demand they will enable the force to meet.
For example, there must be some basis on which the force reached the figure of 250 additional officers: that is, why it thinks that there will be work for them all to do and why it thinks (if it does) that this will be enough officers to do it. But if the force had a basis for this conclusion, it is not set out in its FMS.
One force’s FMS says, on protecting vulnerable people: “[the force] is conducting a deep dive review into Domestic Abuse performance. This enables the force to ensure that it has the best possible plans and activity in place to manage Domestic Abuse. Equally, this will allow the PFCC to explore wider implications across the Criminal Justice system through Domestic Abuse Board.”
We felt this was weak, there being no assessment of what the review will cover or how it will help the force deal with future demand.
However, this isn’t surprising, because the assessments in Steps 1 and 2 for this chapter of the FMS are also weak, with almost no data or analysis provided. Step 1 says:
“Incidents of domestic abuse continue to rise and remain a significant demand on LPAs. This is not expected to change within the next four years.”
This is not an adequately thorough analysis of future demand. It provides almost no information on the workforce or other assets for Step 2.
For FMS2020, HMICFRS would like to see forces place a greater emphasis on comparing the level of future demand across each area and the state of the assets they will have to meet those demands.
For example, if a force expects demand for managing offenders to increase by 20 percent in four years, it should not only describe its current position (whether there is spare capacity or whether the force is already under-resourced for existing demand – Step 2) and actions that it will take (for example, increasing the size of the workforce or introducing measures to enhance productivity – the first part of Step 3). It should also explain its assessment of the effect of these changes, and how it has made this assessment.
Consequences of change
Changes have consequences. Increasing the size of the workforce may create requirements for training, support and supervision. Introducing less experienced staff may reduce performance. Changes of premises involve disruption and ancillary costs. Equipment may be unavailable while it is being upgraded. New or upgraded equipment may take time to master.
Those changes may be important to meet demand. It is still necessary to plan for the consequences. Too many forces still haven’t demonstrated that they have assessed the potential costs and disadvantages of change, either in financial terms or in terms of the impact on staff, victims and the wider public.
An example of a force doing this well was set out above: an FMS identified that an increase in the size of the workforce would increase the supervisory resources needed at more senior levels.
A weaker example is as follows:
One force sets out in its chapter on ICT the initiatives that are planned or already underway to meet future demand. These include matching delivery to demand under the governance of the technology board; ICT convergence; replacement of Airwave; and responding to current ICT issues across the force.
It was unclear from the brief descriptions provided in this FMS whether there was any planning for the consequences of these changes. ICT convergence and the replacement of Airwave involve significant technological change. It would be good to see evidence of planning for these changes.
Similarly, forces described plans for significant changes in ways of working, or significant increases in the size of the workforce. Some FMSs considered the effects of this, but all forces need to consider the impact on wellbeing of significant changes and of expecting staff to do more as demand increases.
The template gave examples of things that forces might do to meet future demand: “changing the skills of your workforce, investing in new ICT and making efficiencies”.
Making efficiencies is a way for forces to do more with the same assets, or do the same with fewer assets. We have been looking at the efficiency of forces through our PEEL assessments for some years. From these, we know that many forces are good or outstanding in this area.
However, this was not always evident from the FMS responses. Most responses discussed the ways in which the force spent money rather than where it could find efficiencies. Judicious investment to increase or enhance the workforce or other assets may, of course, be a good way to meet future demand. But we were surprised how few forces covered efficiencies in as much detail as the ways in which they could invest.
It was also the case that forces often set out their plans in each chapter, but did not consider the impact on other areas of the force:
An urban force said, in relation to armed policing of major events: “An increase of 17 constables and three sergeants was approved by the chief constable in 2018 following the spate of terrorist attacks on mainland Britain. The department is currently working to achieve this new complement and aim to have a full complement of staff by late spring 2020.”
The implication is that an increase in the number of police officers working in this area is a positive development – as it may well be – but no information is provided to justify that conclusion. There is no link to any anticipated local demand change – in fact, Step 1 specifically says, “It is difficult to predict what future demand may look like.” There is also no assessment of the implications for other areas, given that several other chapters in the same FMS describe increasing demand.
Completing the FMS – Step 4: How well have forces identified what future demand they will not be able to meet?
The final step of the analysis was for forces to:
“state how much and what types of future demand you don’t expect to be able to meet, having made the changes and efficiencies in Step 3.”
It cannot be assumed that forces will have the resources to meet all demands. Of course, there are some kinds of demand that the police would never ignore. But forces recognise that they have priorities. Some forces tell us, for example, that they will triage requests for assistance, and prioritise certain types of criminal investigation.
The FMS enables forces to tell us about how they intend to use the resources they have most efficiently, to meet the future demand that they expect. But forces also need to tell us about demand that they do not expect to be able to meet.
Without this information, forces won’t be able to properly plan for the future, and may end up having to cut back services quickly or unplanned, thereby causing additional challenges.
There were very few instances where a force was able to give a clear answer to this question. In some cases, the FMS asserted that the force would meet future demand, but the information given in response to previous steps did not suggest that the force could be confident in this conclusion. In other cases, the FMS highlighted the challenges that the force faced and the actions that it was taking, but it did not identify the future demand that the force would not be able to meet, or the consequences of taking such a decision.
The main way in which forces can improve their responses to Step 4 is by improving the quality of their responses to the first three steps. If the analysis in these three steps is clear and complete, the response to Step 4 should become apparent.
Currently, not all forces have the information they need to assess their demand, or the workforce and assets needed to meet it. Forces may be reluctant to express a view that they will not meet demand if it is not a conclusion they have confidence in. In these cases, forces may wish to express their response in terms of risk rather than providing absolute responses.
The other way that forces can improve their responses to Step 4 is to provide leadership. We asked forces to say what services may reduce or be cut back entirely if they cannot meet anticipated future demand. It is understandable that relatively junior officers will be reluctant to express a view on this. This is a question for the leadership: if forces have not already taken these decisions, then only senior officers can make them. How a force compiles its FMS is a matter for the force, but ultimately it is the chief constable’s own self-assessment. However the statements are compiled, the chief constable is responsible for ensuring that the assessment in Step 4 is realistic.
One of the elements of asset stewardship that forces were asked to assess, in relation to their workforce, was wellbeing.
Wellbeing is about what it takes – in money, time and effort – to look after members of the workforce, to ensure they are in their best condition (physical and mental) and operate at their best (for example, training and professional development; improvements in skills and resilience; and improvements in supervision, efficiency and effectiveness).
We asked forces to consider the wellbeing of their workforce separately at Step 2 of each chapter when they followed the four-step approach. This was to ensure that forces told us separately about the wellbeing of different parts of the workforce.
We also asked forces to complete a dedicated chapter on force wellbeing, to tell us about each of the four steps in relation to wellbeing: what the overall demand was for wellbeing services, and their plans to meet future demand.
It was clear to us that forces recognise the importance of wellbeing. Many told us that they are making health and wellbeing priorities and are running or planning many initiatives or activities to support officers and staff, and to create a healthy working environment.
The following comprises our observations on both the dedicated wellbeing chapter and the relevant information in Step 2 of the other chapters.
The analysis of current and future demand for wellbeing services mirrored the position in other chapters in the FMSs in that there was generally a better description of current demand, by reference to the initiatives or activities that forces already carried out, than there was of future demand. There was limited analysis to describe how forces were assessing demand, or how these initiatives or activities would address any gaps in demand.
Forces told us about efforts to assess current demand (including, in some cases, hidden demand) for wellbeing support. Some forces appear to be using the data more strategically than others to assess what wellbeing support is needed and where it will bring the most benefit. The most common method of assessment was surveys. For example:
One force told us that it had run surveys and reports to identify issues such as staff engagement and organisational learning. This also included an assessment of the demand for clinical and psychological treatment and counselling services. The force had identified that there were gaps in providing wellbeing support to the front line.
However, it was also clear that most forces are struggling to assess their overall demand, especially hidden demand.
Few if any forces had identified measures to forecast future demand for wellbeing support, save by reference to changes in the size of the workforce. We were pleased to see that some forces were at least taking steps to monitor changes in demand, and were prioritising high-risk areas of the workforce for this.
Some forces identified, through individual chapters of their FMS, changes that might affect wellbeing in future – either negatively (for example, increasing workloads or increasingly difficult working conditions) or positively (for example, better training, equipment and support). For FMS2020, we would like to see forces evidence their overall assessments in this area better by drawing this information together to provide consolidated assessments of the forecasted future wellbeing of their workforces, and the need for services to support them.
Nearly all forces were able to provide information about the wellbeing of their workforces, and the measures in place to support them. In many cases, the level of information provided was very good.
In the chapter dedicated to overall wellbeing, we were pleased to see many examples of forces providing us with information on the costs and resources allocated to occupational health programmes, human resources, and referrals to psychiatric and psychological services. We were also pleased to see examples of the ways in which forces are using their other assets to assist with wellbeing. For example, many forces told us about the ways in which they were using or enhancing their premises with staff wellbeing in mind.
Both in the chapter dedicated to overall wellbeing and across many of the other chapters, we were also pleased to see forces providing us with information on what their evaluations told them about the wellbeing of the force.
There were very good examples of forces with a clear understanding of the impact on wellbeing of the work covered by individual chapters:
One force told us: “Contact work is increasingly high impact, with the volume and nature of calls impacting staff wellbeing. There is a bespoke wellness strategy for CMCU [contact management and communications unit], but the staff are regularly working close to and above industry standard capacity (occupancy levels), with very high levels of demand having an impact. Absence levels have been increasing, the main wellbeing challenges are in respect of work related stress, musculo-skeletal conditions, respiratory infections.”
We were particularly pleased to see this force recognise the interrelationship between capacity and wellbeing. And the force was right to recognise that physical illnesses, while they can affect condition, are often more important to consider in terms of wellbeing.
Wellbeing is inherently subjective, and some forces described more informal measures of assessment. We recognise that these may be appropriate if forces combine them with other, more concrete measures.
One force said this about the officers working in their child protection team: “All managers within the team are credible and experienced in child protection work and therefore have a good understanding of managing the welfare of officers and staff working in this challenging working environment. Anecdotal staff feedback indicates they are highly motivated and feel a real sense of personal satisfaction from the work that they do.”
This section also gave an example of staff raising concerns about the working environment and the force acting on their concerns.
These anecdotal indicators, along with other more concrete measures, provide an overall picture of the wellbeing of staff working in this difficult area.
Forces were not always consistent in giving us information about wellbeing in each chapter of their FMS. For example:
One force gave a very good assessment of the wellbeing of staff working on protecting vulnerable people, but offered no assessment of the wellbeing of staff working in serious and organised crime.
The fact that assessments of wellbeing in FMS responses varied in quality across individual chapters meant that it was often difficult for us to understand the overall wellbeing picture within any given force. The level of inconsistency sometimes gave the impression that either senior leaders lacked a strategic overview of wellbeing across the force or wellbeing programmes were not reaching all the people who needed them. For FMS2020, we would like to see greater consistency in the assessment of wellbeing across the FMS.
Steps 3 and 4
As in the other chapters, most forces were able to indicate already planned changes and initiatives. Many forces had an impressive range of proposals, and were developing additional policies and programmes.
It was less clear how these measures related to forecasted demand. Few forces were able to identify whether there was a demand gap. This meant that few forces were able to provide a meaningful response at Step 4. Indeed, many of the better responses acknowledged that the force needed further evaluation, demonstrating a recognition that it was not fully answering this question.
Factors that may have contributed to better force management statements
We have sought to engage forces throughout the development of FMS2 and have held workshops and individual discussions to provide an opportunity to share learning and experiences.
We are grateful to forces for engaging constructively as FMS continues to develop. We are also grateful for the commitment and thoughtful contributions of members of the steering group that oversees the development of FMSs.
The areas identified below arose from our discussions with forces. They also reflect our thinking following our review of all submitted FMSs.
The areas identified are:
- Senior management commitment: Some forces told us their chief officers were actively involved throughout the development of their FMS, ensuring timely completion of chapters and relevant appreciation of the context. The better FMSs were typically those where there appeared to be greater chief officer engagement. In these FMSs, the chief constable summaries tended to provide a well-reasoned overall assessment of the context the force is operating in, how demand is changing across the force as a whole, and what actions will be taken to mitigate the various challenges faced by the force.
- Integration of the FMS process with other related processes: Several forces told us that production of the FMS had become a cornerstone of their annual planning cycle. We were told that FMSs were being used to provide an assessment of demand and resources, which was then used alongside the general budget position and the police and crime plan to inform the chief constable’s strategy and planning decisions.
- A lead manager responsible for the FMS with sufficient time and skill: Those forces whose FMSs were generally better had staff with sufficient time, skills, knowledge and seniority devoted to the task. This included analytical understanding to properly interpret data and information, not just describe it. This helped ensure that individual chapters were prepared by those who had a better understanding of the force, and that the overall FMS told a more coherent narrative about the force as a whole.
While we cannot evidence a direct correlation between these factors and a well-evidenced and presented FMS, it seems from our discussions with practitioners that those forces that adopted these approaches were more likely to produce an FMS that contained greater analysis and assessment, and that was able to look strategically across all areas.
We are grateful to all those who contributed to their forces’ FMS2.
FMS2 represented a considerable improvement on FMS1. There was greater consistency because almost all forces attempted to follow the template. As a result, more forces were able to produce a statement that explained the demand they are facing, how that demand is expected to change, and the steps being taken to respond to those changes. Without exception, the FMSs displayed a clear ambition to improve services against a background of continued pressure on resources.
We are pleased to hear that more forces are using their FMSs as important elements in their strategic planning processes. It is clear to us that a force that has a well-evidenced FMS for all areas will be much better placed to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
But it is also clear that there is more to do before any chief constable can say that they have an FMS that provides a compelling analysis of demand, and the force’s response to that demand, across all areas.
In the years ahead, forces will need to respond to the challenge of rising demand and the opportunities of an increase in police officer numbers. The decisions that chief officers make about which areas to prioritise should be based on the best possible understanding of where additional resources are most needed.
Forces that are better able to understand and respond to the demands in their area will also be better placed to meet the demands and opportunities in the years ahead. The FMS provides a way of demonstrating, to themselves and to other interested parties, that a force is as efficient and effective as possible in reducing crime and protecting the public.
Ultimately, that’s what we want to see too.