Innovation, forward-thinking and sound financial management have helped to future proof policing in Cheshire.
As a result, Cheshire Constabulary is one of only a handful of police forces across the country that has been rated ‘outstanding’ for efficiency, according to a report published by Her Majesty′s Inspector of Constabulary today (Tuesday 20th October).
The report concludes that Cheshire is ‘exceptionally well prepared to face its future financial challenges’.
Chief Constable Simon Byrne said:
“This is great news for Cheshire Constabulary and recognises the hard work and achievements of every officer and member of staff. This is a first for the force and something that we should all feel very proud of.
“In a period of sustained budget reductions, it is critically important for every police force to make efficiencies while focusing on reducing crime and keeping communities safe. What matters to the people of Cheshire is the number of police officers on the streets and, as a result of the changes implemented, 130 extra police officers are being re-directed back to the front line and 53 extra are being recruited.”
The inspection, which took place in May, focused on how efficient Cheshire Constabulary is at keeping people safe and reducing crime.
This was measured against three key areas – how well the force uses its resources to meet its requirements, how sustainable and affordable the workforce model is and how sustainable the force’s financial position is for the short and long term.
The force was rated ‘outstanding’ for two of these areas and good for the third. Overall the force has been graded ‘outstanding’.
The inspection highlights the force’s focus on public protection and, in particular, the creation of the Paedophile and Cyber Investigation Team. It also focuses on the force’s extensive use of technology (including investment in mobile devices and the implementation of police contact points), how it engages with the public and how it works alongside partner agencies to deal with particular issues.
Police & Crime Commissioner for Cheshire John Dwyer said:
“Cheshire Constabulary is outstanding and now we have the evidence to show it. We are in a unique position, the public are safer as crime is down and where crime does occur we are solving more of it. We are bucking the trend. Enhancing frontline policing was my first commitment to the people of Cheshire when I was elected. This report shows that I am delivering on my promises.
“I initiated a Root and Branch review. The Chief Constable has delivered this through a process, which has prioritised resources to where they are needed. Every pound has been scrutinised to establish how we could work differently, where we could make savings and how we could become more efficient. This has released significant savings.
“Today’s independent assessment by HMIC demonstrates the plans the Chief Constable and I have put in place have been effective, are delivering excellent results and Cheshire Constabulary is now more efficient and one of the best performing in the country - this is due mainly to the fantastic work of police officers and staff across Cheshire.”
As part of its annual PEEL inspections (into Police Efficiency, Effectiveness and Legitimacy) HMIC reviewed both the financial and workforce planning of all forces whilst examining the wider issues of cost, capability and productivity.
The review stated that Cheshire has a good understanding of its requirements and has processes in place to make informed choices about resources and levels of service across every business area. Workforce and financial plans are detailed and closely aligned and the Constabulary has a strong track record of achieving savings.
Balancing the books, introducing a new local policing structure and ensuring resources meet its requirements have enabled a policing model that is affordable and sustainable over the next five years.
Mr Dwyer added:
“The HMIC report signifies great news for the people of Cheshire. Working together with the Chief Constable we are shaping the Constabulary, which keeps the people of Cheshire safe and works to the highest levels of efficiency.
“Investment is being made in recruiting more officers. Additional officers are being put back on the beat and PCSO numbers are being maintained in our local communities – this is what the public have told me they want. Investment is also going into making sure the Constabulary has the technology it needs for the future. All this whilst meeting our saving targets – this is unique, this is outstanding.
“The result for our communities is that Cheshire has a police force which delivers for victims, delivers in protecting the public, invests in its future and is in the best possible position to meet the challenges of today and those to come.”
One key element of Cheshire’s inspection highlighted the use of Priority Based Budgeting – a tried and tested idea used in the private sector, which has helped the force to marry more effectively its resources to demand.
The review states that Cheshire has effectively strengthened local policing at a time when many other forces are considering withdrawing from neighbourhoods due to budget cuts.
Chief Constable Byrne added:
“In Cheshire, we don’t talk in terms of cuts, we talk in terms of choices - on how to spend the budget allocated around the ‘We’re Here’ commitments. Cheshire Constabulary remains committed to tackling crime and keeping people safe. Crime is at its lowest and solved rates are improving. We may be a relatively small force but we are big on ideas – and delivering our commitments to the public. The outstanding result shows that Cheshire is once again ‘punching above its weight’ – we are one of only a handful of forces to achieve this rating.”
Full details of the inspection can be seen on the HMIC website.