Humberside Police respond to ERYC Council’s concern over changes to Force

humberside police
humberside police

Today the East Riding of Yorkshire Council published a report expressing concerns over Humberside Police’s Building The Future Programme, aimed at modernising the force and achieving cost savings required by Central Government.

Chief Constable Justine Curran said: “Earlier this year I was invited to appear at the East Riding of Yorkshire Scrutiny Panel in respect of changes to the force. I did not feel it was appropriate to attend as it is the role of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Grove, to hold the force to account and the role of the Police and Crime Panel to, in turn, hold the PCC to account.

“Despite this I offered to provide a briefing on the changes to the full council in an open public forum. This offer has not been taken up and I am therefore disappointed that the Council has decided to levy criticism of a lack of communication and approach the report in the way it has. I am however committed to working constructively with all of our partners as we move forward.”

Humberside Police would like to directly respond to the points raised in the report. All comments are attributable to Chief Constable Justine Curran.

We’ve been open about the changes we are making and the conversation continues…

Humberside Police has a duty to provide policing services to the entire Humberside policing area, including the East Riding of Yorkshire, Hull, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire.

We have listened to the public’s desire for greater access to named officers in their communities, increased visibility and their desire to feel safe at home and at work.

We also recognise that we need to modernise the force, remove archaic bureaucracy, enhance partnership working and provide the public with 21st Century policing.

In response to Central Government austerity measures, like other public sector organisations, Humberside Police must reduce its budget by a further £31m by 2019.

To achieve the savings, provide modern policing and meet the public’s expectations we have had to radically rethink our approach to policing.

From the outset we have been open about the fact that, as a people-focused organisation, we will have to be a smaller, leaner force in the future.

But by stripping out layers of bureaucracy, creating a large flexible team of staff, harnessing new technology and focusing our resources in the areas and at the times of greatest need, we are confident that we can maintain and enhance our service to the public.

We have communicated our plans for reshaping and modernising the Force extensively over the last 12 months. The Chief Constable and her Senior Officer Team has written to and held face-to-face briefings with all local authorities, fellow emergency services, local MPs and other key partners. Local authority representatives have also been invited to attend workshops with the force to discuss our plans. The Chief Constable has conducted a series of media interviews outlining the changes in detail to the public. A booklet describing the new operating model for the force will be distributed to staff internally and the Police and Crime Commissioner will share this with the public via his website shortly. Partners will receive a copy of this electronically.

Our changes have been meticulously planned and based on forensic analysis…

Since the arrival of Chief Constable Justine Curran in April 2013 the force has been focusing on how it will meet the financial challenges ahead and how we can provide the efficient 21st Century policing the people of Humberside deserve.

It was clear from start the new policing model could be implemented by April 2015, providing more accessible, enhanced policing, meeting the savings required by Central Government and the force’s statutory requirement to balance its books. Over the last 17 months a dedicated team of officers and staff have been meticulously planning the new operating model to meet this deadline.

The pace has been measured and plans have been tested, re-tested, redesigned and tested again, to ensure the highest levels of efficiency and the best possible level of service for the people of Humberside. This process will also be subject to independent review.

The plans will be phased in gradually between now and April 2015 to ensure a smooth transition. The new operating model will then be constantly assessed and enhanced to harness best practice and continually improve.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s (HMIC) recent report, dated July 2014 and titled, Responding to Austerity Humberside Police, gave an overall rating of ‘Good’ and stated: “While progress is being made, Humberside Police still faces a significant challenge. It is important that the force moves ahead quickly with its plans to change the way it provides policing in 2015 in order to achieve a secure financial position and provide better value for money”.

The force has carried out a forensic examination of its demand i.e. why people call us and what they ask us to do. We analysed more than 2,000 separate pieces of data to draw up a profile of what the public contacts the police for. This detailed analysis mapped the type of demand, what time it occured and in which geographical areas, enabling us to set about redesigning our policing model to make sure we could meet the expectations of the public as we move forward as a smaller, leaner organisation.

The analysis also identified that 44 per cent of calls do not require police attendance. These calls include requests for council services, requests for organisations like the RSPCA and the Environment Agency and things that could be better resolved over the phone, rather than sending an expensive police resource to attend. By empowering our staff to manage this chunk of demand better we will be able to free up staff to deal with emergency and high priority issues.

A large, flexible team of officers and staff will make us more able to respond to policing needs…

Since Justine Curran’s arrival in April 2013 she has been consistently open about the fact that policing is a ‘people business’ and in order to make significant savings, some staff reductions are deeply regrettable but inevitable.

The purpose of completely redesigning our operating model was to minimise the impact of these reductions and through designing more efficient working practices, enable us to do more with less. Through cultural change we can empower staff to focus on what is really important – delivering the services that the people of East Riding of Yorkshire, Hull, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire expect and deserve.

Our analysis shows that we have not always sent the right staff first time when the public call us. Our over-engineered and complex processes mean that a crime like a burglary can occasionally be passed through many different departments - wasting time and creating duplication.

By streamlining processes and changing our culture we can cut this inefficiency out of the organisation.

Further analysis highlighted the fact that we are sometimes inefficient in the way we deploy our staff - we know that our supply does not always match our demand. We have the same number of resources available at 7am as we do at 7pm, yet demand is four times higher at night than in the morning. Our resources are organised geographically under our current three-division model, not according to the areas of highest demand. We also have the least amount of officers available in August – the time when we need the most.

By changing to a one-force model and tracking our resources better we will have much greater capacity. We will also be able to focus more of our resources on front-line policing – giving benefit to the public we serve.

Focusing on deploying resources where the need is greatest at times when demand is high, we can be more efficient, improve our resilience, provide a better service to the public and achieve more with fewer police officers and staff. The main way we can achieve this is through changing our shift patterns.

Larger, more flexible teams with staggered start times will help us to better match supply to demand, increase flexibility and provide much more resilience. This change to our shift pattern has a significant negative effect on our officers and staff, but it is the right thing to do in terms of providing the very best service to the public and matching our supply to our demand.

We also know that we can drastically improve efficiency through the better use of technology. Soon police officers and staff will have 4G enabled mobile data devices that will allow them to check and update police systems and carry out all of their traditionally office based activities out and about. This will mean they can spend much more time in our communities.

We will not close police stations…

The Police and Crime Commissioner has stated we will not close police stations. We are actively seeking to move police stations into shared buildings with partners like local councils and fellow emergency services with a view to cost savings. In the same sense, if there is a strong financial argument, we may move partner services into police buildings, adding value by creating community hubs. We are firm in our stance this approach will provide better value for the communities across the public sector and active negotiations with councils are ongoing. The new operating model also creates a variety of different ways to interact with the police including appointments and the chance to meet officers in the community and publicised dates and times.

Rural communities will be policed appropriately…

We have as much of a duty to the residents of East Riding as we do to those in every other local authority area we serve. We are well aware that crime occurs in all of the areas we serve. We welcome the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s observation that other areas covered by Humberside Police may warrant more resources due to their higher crime rate per head of population. It should be noted that East Riding, in common with every other area we cover, will get an appropriate level of resources. We will organise our resources according to our analysis of geographical demand. We do however, recognise that rural areas have specific needs due to geography and the nature of rural crime and we are allocating extra resources, above and beyond our demand analysis, to take this fact into account.