I am grateful to one of my readers for sending me the link to the National Audit Office report from last week. Not the edited highlights that the Press were quick to jump on one way or the other, but the full report.
I’ve only skim read it a couple of times so far, so I haven’t taken it all in yet, but there are some very interesting headline numbers.
£12.5 BILLION – the total amount spent by the 43 Forces of England and Wales 2014-2015 (set that against the £7.2 Billion Gidiot lost on RBS).
25% – the real-terms reduction in funding to PCCs 2011-2016.
36,672 – the total reduction in size of the Police Family (excluding Specials) March 2010-September 2014
£2.5 BILLION – the amount of savings Forces PLANNED to make 2011-2016
35% – real-term increase of Reserves in 39 Forces with comparable data.
3 – number of forces rated as ‘requires improvement’ in their response to the spending review by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary
16,659 – reduction in the number of police officers between March 2010 and September 2014
0% to 47% – variation in the percentage of forces’ savings that came from collaboration in 2014-15
66% – budget increase for HM Inspectorate of Constabulary for 2014-15
Not only are some of those numbers interesting, but some of the headlines and the stories behind them were worth reading too.
Police forces have insufficient understanding of the demand for services.
This is one of the headlines that the Press fed us last week. The story?
Crime statistics indicate that crime has fallen since 2010-11. However, crime levels are a limited measure of demand because: they do not include all types of crime; forces face increases in more complex risks and threats such as cyber crime and child sexual exploitation, which have historically been under-reported; and because not all demand is crime-related. Forces estimate that crime accounts for only 22% of the number of emergency and priority incidents. However, HMIC estimates that only 10 of 43 forces have a sophisticated understanding of demand. In our view, the College’s recent report on demand provides a limited picture across the service. There are no standards for measuring demand and no comprehensive national picture of demand across policing, including demand potentially caused by funding reductions in other sectors
The Department has insufficient information to determine how much further it can reduce funding without degrading services, or when it may need to support individual forces.
The police sector is considering how to identify information that might give early warning of a force at risk. HMIC provides regular and thematic information on a wide range of policing areas. Forces provide data to HMIC, which it checks and verifies through inspection. However, in our view there is currently insufficient information to identify signs of the sector being unable to deliver services, unclear links between financial reductions and service pressures, and limited data on police productivity. The previous government removed public service agreement (PSA) targets in June 2010 as part of its move towards greater local accountability. Instead, commissioners and forces decide what information to collect and monitor in response to local priorities
This one is quite possibly the most significant in my opinion and it’s the one that seems to have slid under the door with hardly a comment;
Forces will need to transform the service they deliver if they are to meet the financial challenge and address the changing nature of crime
The Department did not have its budget protected during the last Parliament, and forces will face further significant funding reductions. Although we have seen examples of innovation and good financial management in some of our visits, overall many of the savings so far could be characterised as tactical or efficiency savings, rather than service transformation. The Department and HMIC consider that forces can achieve higher levels of savings by increasing collaboration across forces and with other public sector partners. There is information on the total costs and savings of collaboration but limited analysis of the variation in savings achieved to date
Thus opening the door for Regional or National Forces, local mergers and, most definitely, outsourcing/privatisation.
Snuck away in the Summary was Para 17, also unremarked upon by the Press I believe;
Police forces have successfully reduced costs since 2010-11 and crime hasreduced over the same period. But this is an incomplete picture; the available indicatorsof financial stress are limited, and there is insufficient information on service stress.Crime statistics do not capture all crime, and the police do more than deal with crime-related incidents. However, most forces do not have a thorough evidence-based understanding of demand, or what affects their costs. It is therefore difficult for them totransform services intelligently, show how much resource they need, and demonstratethat they are delivering value for money.
Change is coming.
All references to The Department above refer to The Home Office