Cheshire Constabulary is outstanding at understanding its current and likely future demand, according to the latest Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) efficiency report released today, 3 November 2016.
The inspection took place in July and focused on how efficient the Constabulary is at keeping people safe and reducing crime in Cheshire.
This was measured against three key areas – how well the Constabulary understands its current and likely future demand, how well it uses resources to manage current demand and how well the force is planning for demand in the future.
The Constabulary was rated ‘outstanding’ for one of these areas and rated ‘good’ overall.
This assessment forms part of HMIC’s annual inspections into police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL).
The HMIC efficiency report highlighted the Constabulary’s use of its priority-based budgeting (PBB) process as a critical tool in managing its demand.
The PBB process has allowed the Constabulary to consciously review the service levels provided to the public by choosing which priorities to invest in. These choices are aligned to the priorities of the Constabulary and its ‘We’re here…’ commitments.
The PBB process is a complete, open and transparent model for ensuring the Constabulary understands what it is trying to achieve and the role each business area plays in achieving this.
Deputy Chief Constable Janette McCormick said: “Having a good understanding of demand is vital in ensuring that we have the right resources, in the right place to provide the right level of policing now and in the future.
“The process encourages invest-to-save initiatives and looks for ways to make officers and staff more efficient when they are out in their communities, reducing the time spent back in police stations, ensuring that officers remain visible, on the beat and engaged in activities to reduce and prevent crime.
“PBB has enabled the Constabulary to invest significantly in its innovative and ambitious digitalisation plan. The plan is supported by a professional and forward-thinking IT department, allowing the force to develop products and services which meet the needs of its officers and staff. Since HMIC assessed the Constabulary, the force has successfully implemented the use of mobile devices, to assist and drive efficiencies among front line officers.”
Another key area highlighted in the HMIC efficiency report was how well the Constabulary has explored all opportunities to work in collaboration with others to increase efficiency and provide a better and more resilient service to the public of Cheshire.
The Constabulary has been praised for developing an innovative way to work collaboratively with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service to provide joint services in areas such as finance, technology and vehicle maintenance, as well as opportunities to share accommodation.
DCC McCormick added: “By collaborating with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service we are able to maximise the efficiency of the two services. Bringing together our ‘back office’ teams and systems by working together more closely and sharing some resources and premises we can achieve real efficiencies, as well as delivering a more joined-up service to our communities.
“As a police force we have a number of business areas where we work collaboratively with a number of other forces and partners in order to reduce demand. The Constabulary has engaged in a number of collaborative ventures, both operational and organisational and is continually exploring new ways of working to provide services more efficiently to the public.”
The Constabulary moved to a new operating model back in July 2015, moving from 19 neighbourhood policing teams to eight local policing units.
The structure allows the Constabulary to bring together staff across several key policing areas to be briefed simultaneously in one deployment centre. The model produces significant benefits as the Constabulary is able to share knowledge and maximise opportunities for working better as a team.
DCC McCormick concluded: “The HMIC efficiency report identified a number of issues with capacity and capability following the implementation of the model.
“Bringing staff together in one place allows the organisation to make better choices concerning the use of resources and streamlines the way the organisation delivers policing to the public.
“There are always going to be some teething issues with any significant change that is implemented, and we are aware of some of the current gaps in staffing levels, particularly where some teams lack officers with specific skills.
“The Constabulary has been making changes in several areas, including prioritised training and increasing the numbers of officers with specialist skills. We are continuously learning and developing from the implementation of the new model, but these changes may take time to have a full effect on the frontline.
“Overall this has been a very positive report for the Constabulary and recognises the hard work and achievements of all our officers and staff. I hope that this report assures the public that we are providing an excellent and efficient service to our communities.”