Police & Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, has said he does not share the views expressed by a national police inspection team about Cleveland Police’s financial planning - arguing the report they have produced is outdated and based on a fleeting visit to the Force earlier in the year.
The directly-elected PCC says the PEEL ‘Efficiency’ Assessment report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is based on a very short inspection and fails to recognise the in-depth review work underway in Cleveland, designed to ensure communities continue to receive the police services they need at a time of reducing budgets.
Mr. Coppinger also reassures the public as their elected and locally accountable PCC, here on a full-time all-year round basis, he has a full financial scrutiny programme which keeps an eye on the workings of the Force on an ongoing basis.
He said: “I think this report flags up quite a big issue about the way the HMIC inspection process works. The Force has to spend a lot of time and resources to prepare for Inspectors to turn up, which is resources that would best be spent policing our streets. When they arrive they ask some pre-prepared questions over three days in March and then send a report through seven months later in October. We have had 2 budgets and a general election since then”
“In contrast, my office is using up-to-date information and relevant briefings to hold the Chief Constable to account. We are at the centre of what happens in the Force day-to-day and quite frankly I think the public should not worry about this report - which is well out of date. I’ve looked at it, I’ve spoken to senior officers, and I’ve also written to HMIC to point out my concerns about their work – but I’m not going to spend significant time focussing on these findings when we have moved on considerably since then”.
“Our latest medium-term financial plan was agreed in July and takes us forward up to the 2018/19 financial year, whilst at the same time we won’t know from government what our financial allocation for next year i.e. from April 2016 is likely to be until December at the earliest”.
“The Force employs hundreds of local workers who live on Teesside. It’s these staff who know how hard they are working, how committed they are, and who can see first hand the fruits of their labour on the streets that they work. HMIC reports like this do little to improve their morale or confidence – and are largely of no benefit to local residents who tell me they are supportive of the service that Cleveland Police delivers.”
Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer said: “I welcome any opportunity for scrutiny of our plans and processes.
Our financial plan is a living document which evolves over time using timely financial, performance and workforce data. Only last year this method was graded as outstanding by HMIC for ensuring financial security for the short and long term.
The PEEL assessment website, which was updated in May, highlights that we are well placed to face future financial challenges and explains that we have carried out extensive assessments of the demands and the risks that we face to inform our decision making.
We have of course continued with our financial plan and as this report relates to a three day inspection that took place in March, prior to the May update, I am somewhat bemused as to why it is only now that we have now been graded as requires improvement in this area.
We have been liaising with HMIC about the large number of factual inaccuracies in this report and the context in which some of the comments have been made. Much of the work referenced in the report has previously been heralded by HMIC and I am confident that we are in a strong position to deliver on the savings needed until 2018/19.
We have an achievable plan going forward and the proof that we can develop such plans is demonstrated by our achievements so far. Our external auditors have assessed the Force as ‘green’ for securing value for money.
That said, no one should be under any illusion that we can continue to deliver the same levels of service into the future. We face increasingly difficult and challenging decisions about the growing gap between what we and the public would like us to do and what we can actually deliver.
In Cleveland we have demonstrated a track record of thinking outside of the box, using new and innovative methods of policing and being at the forefront of regional collaboration. Our analysts have developed a comprehensive assessment of where the greatest threat, risk and harm is to people so that we can target our reducing resources in the most effective and efficient way.
It is important that this report does not dampen the tenacious spirit of our officers and staff who are placed in often dangerous situations and difficult circumstances to save lives and protect people from harm, each and every day. It is this work that truly matters."
Examples of some of the Force projects include:
- Development of a Strategic Threat and Risk Assessment (STRA) and demand model to ensure resources are targeted to the areas of greatest threat, risk and harm to communities as budgets reduce.
- Reshaping of the workforce to identify skills, use of rank and deployment.
- Formalisation of collaboration arrangements with North Yorkshire Police, Durham Constabulary, and Cleveland Fire Brigade.
- Further development of the North East Regional Special Operations Unit
- Launch of iMap on smartphones, which provides a crime intelligence picture within a defined radius.
Posted on Tuesday 20th October 2015