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Some VERY Interesting Numbers

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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

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3 thoughts on “Some VERY Interesting Numbers”

  1. Oh no, I am now retired and slightly agitated. This is where the Police is a Business equation is really shown up as a falsehood. Serving and retired staff know that not all that the Police do can be recorded into a specific category. Even the control room systems had a box that said “other” for incidents that failed to meet any type. This is where retired senior Officers sitting in the House of Lords, the National Federation and others of influence should have been campaigning. They should have teamed up with the National Audit Office sooner in order to help them understand the demand. They should have paid for adverts in daily newspapers to say that this is the reality. They certainly should have started saying we cannot do more with less a hell of a lot sooner than they did. The Home Secretary did show an own goal for the Police when they kept saying about the effect of the cuts. The Police should have shown an effect of the cuts, for example publishing how many 999 calls did not get attended within 12 minutes. Instead the books were cooked to save senior officers getting their backsides well and truly kicked. I remember being told as a Duty Officer, ” you have x amount of 999 calls outstanding. Why haven’t you set someone?” My reply was words to the effect that there was no one. OK, I had a look through and used my experience to see how serious they were. There was no way I was going to send my team from pillar to post at high speed and then divert them to somewhere else. They would never have got anywhere and got totally exhausted in the process.
    Sorry – rant over.

    1. Rant away Dave. It’s only when experienced practioners have their say that someone might actually listen.

  2. My own attention was drawn to the NAO report does not itself draw attention to the amount of money held in PCC / force reserves, its focus is on other issues.

    In the NAO main report, on pg.41 there is a Table 14 showing the reserves, not by amount, rather as a percentage of total revenue 2013-2014.

    WMP is usually compared to a ‘family group’ of other metropolitan county forces (except the Met) and with Northumbria added IIRC.

    WMP has far greater reserves by a significant percentage.

    West Midlands 28
    West Yorkshire 20
    South Yorkshire 19
    Northumbria 12
    Greater Manchester 12
    Merseyside 15

    Yes having such reserves has enabled WMP to re-start recruiting and yet more reforms, known as WMP2020 and the refurbishment of its HQ, Lloyd House.

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