TRANSFORMING FOR THE FUTURE

Increase resources available to frontline policing

Increase resources available to frontline policing

Despite the challenging financial environment and cuts to police funding and resources, the Police and Crime Commissioner has remained determined to ensure frontline policing resources are enhanced during the term of office, meeting the changing nature of crime and demand.

Savings achieved as a result of the Strategic Alliance with Devon And Cornwall Police, and the introduction of a new delivery model for frontline policing, have increased the resources available to frontline policing.

This has been achieved both through delivering savings in back office areas and by making the most of resources available to the front line. 

Through this work, the overall level of resources available to Dorset Police has increased and the proportion of resources spent on back office functions has reduced from 10% to 9%, increasing the amount available for operational and operational support roles.

The Force have also continued to recruit during the Commissioner’s term, including Police Officer recruitment campaigns in July 2016, February 2017 and January 2019.

The PCC and Chief Constable await details from central government about Dorset’s allocation of the 20,000 new police officers promised by the new Prime Minister. Local preparations have been implemented to ensure that Dorset Police can make the most of this opportunity, with the PCC scrutinising those arrangements.

Other relevant initiatives include the April 2018 introduction of a new Police Community Support Investigator (PCSI) role to better meet the demands of modern policing. A total of 31 PCSIs are based around the county and deal with incidents deemed as posing a lower level of threat, harm and risk, such as criminal damage, shed breaks and vehicle crime.

They record crimes, carry out the initial investigations – such as locating CCTV footage and potential witnesses – take statements and provide reassurance and crime prevention advice to victims.

Changes as a result of the Force’s new delivery model will also free up officers’ time, generating increases in people and resources to teams dealing with cyber-crime, child sexual exploitation and sex offences, as well as other areas that generate significant demand. 

A Dorset Innovation Fund was also established by the PCC – this fund has seen additional resources support key frontline initiatives and is monitored by the Commissioner’s Office to ensure that maximum value is achieved for Dorset’s communities.

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Continue making sure public money is well spent

Continue making sure public money is well spent

In his 2016 election manifesto, the PCC highlighted how he had been prudent and accountable in the way he had spent public money throughout his first term of office. He also pledged to continue this approach during the current term – making sure public money is respected and spent wisely.

A number of robust arrangements are in place to oversee the monitoring and management of finances and resources.

Internally, the Resource Control Board oversees the arrangements for effectively managing resources, including land, property, finance, projects and people. This board meets monthly with attendance from the PCC, his Chief Executive and the Chief Finance Officer.

An Independent Audit Committee (IAC) serves the Alliance between Dorset Police and Devon And Cornwall Police and meets quarterly. The committee reviews and advises on areas such as financial strategies, budget planning and reserves. Internal audits are conducted by the South West Audit Partnership (SWAP) across the Alliance, providing independent opinion on the risk management and financial governance across both forces.

An annual audit plan is agreed, with progress and outcomes reported via the IAC. These audits help the PCC to ensure that his Office is adopting best practice – for example, the PCC’s Commissioning team has improved policies and procedures throughout this term to ensure that processes are delivered efficiently and effectively. In addition, external audit services are provided by Grant Thornton who are responsible for forming and expressing an opinion on the PCC’s, Chief Constable’s and group’s annual accounts and on the value for money arrangements that are in place.

Regionally, the PCC and the Chief Executive sit on the South West Police Collaboration Strategic Board, and have oversight of its subgroups. This is the decision making Board for regional funding and governance matters and is supported by a separate programme team that directly reports into Chief Constables and PCCs.

The Dorset Police & Crime Panel provides direct scrutiny of the PCC and his progress in delivering against his Police and Crime Panel objectives. This includes reviewing budget and precept setting arrangements, financial management and how the PCC commissions services to help achieve his strategic priorities.

A key element of the PCC’s annual precept and budget setting process is consultation with the public. As well as informing the public on the current financial situation affecting policing, this process also explains what the plans are for money generated by raising the precept – both in terms of providing resources for Dorset Police and for delivering against the agreed Police and Crime Plan priorities. The PCC takes pride in engaging with thousands of Dorset residents as part of this process.

Dorset Police is judged to be good in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime, as assessed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS). They judged the Force to be good in its understanding of demand; its use of resources to manage demand; and its planning for future.

The views of IAC, SWAP, Grant Thornton and HMICFRS provide strong evidence that the PCC has once again ensured that public money has been spent wisely and respected. 

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Ensure that any debt is minimised

Ensure that any debt is minimised

The PCC has set out an intention of avoiding any additional debt burden wherever possible.

Dorset Police is a relatively small force, with a comparable budget, but like all other forces must deliver the same operational requirements for estates, fleet, systems, and other items of capital expenditure.

The PCC is fully aware that the public expect all public sector organisations to spend public money wisely and manage finances in a responsible and prudent way.

The PCC has therefore adopted the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) Capital Strategies and Programming Guidance which requires the PCC to approve a Capital Strategy before the start of each financial year. The Capital Strategy supports the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) and the Treasury Management Strategy.

The Capital Strategy provides a framework for the development of the Capital Programme which sets out the investment in assets and identifies the resources required for that investment.

These assets are considered essential to the provision of the policing service and meet the objectives set out in the Police & Crime Plan. The PCC has developed this Capital Strategy in consultation with the Force who are the primary users of the capital assets.

The Treasury Management Strategy, is revised annually and sets the framework for the management of cash flows, borrowing and investments, and the associated risks.  It seeks to ensure that any borrowing is prudent, affordable and sustainable.

The Capital Financing Requirement is developed as part of the formalised annual business planning process, and scrutinised on an ongoing basis through the various boards and committees. Exceptions are raised directly with the PCC and Chief Constable.

There are annual costs relating to external debts, but these are substantially funded by government grants. These funds are replenished through an annual minimum revenue provision over the expected life of the assets. No additional external borrowing has been required or is forecast, save from some temporary borrowing to cover the lows in month-end cash cycles.  

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Undertake independent review of the OPCC

Undertake independent review of the OPCC

On starting his term of office, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) committed to undertaking an independent review of his office, to ensure the team is supporting the commissioner and is correctly aligned to the Police and Crime Plan.

The role of PCCs has changed considerably since they were first introduced in 2012.

Additional responsibilities have been handed to local policing bodies and, as a result, the offices that support PCCs have changed significantly. Further, offices vary from force area to force area – which is entirely appropriate, given that PCCs are expected to prioritise those issues that matter most to the people they represent.

Upon his re-election in 2016, the Dorset PCC committed to undertake a review of the staff that support his work.

To do this, he commissioned an independent organisation to compare the structure and size of his office with other agencies around England and Wales, as well as to make suggestions that would improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the office’s activities.

The review concluded that the staffing in Dorset compared favourably with those offices in the most similar forces and that the budget for the PCC’s office was appropriate to meet his ambitions over the coming term. Nevertheless, a few changes were recommended, which included a reduction in administrative staff; improvements to the Commissioning function and the introduction of more policy development personnel.

The benefits of these changes have been numerous. For example, the Commissioning team has been able to fund a greater array of initiatives for the benefit of Dorset residents, maintaining closer monitoring of these initiatives to ensure better value for money, and return on investment.

Further, the office has been able to flex according to the requirements of the business, including delivering significant additional workstreams such as developing the business case for merger, and the development of the Cadets and Bobby Van schemes from the Force, without additional resource, thereby freeing up police officers and staff to focus even greater efforts on operational activity. The office has also engaged with more members of the public over this term than in the previous term, with figures that put Dorset among the very highest of performers in this area.

The PCC, supported by his senior management team, continue to review the staffing in the office and regularly monitor the resources available. Feedback from the staff working in the office, our colleagues in Dorset Police, and members of the Police and Crime Panel has been positive.

Most importantly, the office has been able to deliver approximately 100 commitments aligned to the PCC’s Police and Crime Plan during this term. This work is of demonstrable benefit to Dorset’s communities and is detailed on the PCC’s website.

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Uphold prudent finances with adequate reserves

Uphold prudent finances with adequate reserves

In his 2016 election manifesto the Police and Crime Commissioner highlighted how Dorset Police had adequate reserves and a balanced budget for 2016/17 (set during his first term of office) and stated his intention to continue to adopt this prudent approach to the Force budget.

A core function of the PCC is to set the annual policing budget, including the council tax precept element of police funding. Each year the PCC undertakes a public consultation on his budget and precept proposals before presenting them to the Dorset Police and Crime Panel for consideration and approval each February.

The PCC is proud that he and his team have continued the trend of increasing consultation responses each and every year of his term – with Dorset OPCC collecting one of the very highest rates of response for this exercise in England and Wales.

Reports and related information on these annual budget setting processes can be found within the Dorset Police and Crime Panel meeting papers. In addition, the annual accounts of the PCC and Dorset Police are published annually and are subject to external audit scrutiny. Information relating to the annual accounts can be found on the Commissioner’s website.

In terms of the audited PCC accounts for 2018/19, the independent auditors Grant Thornton stated that ‘we are satisfied that the Police and Crime Commissioner put in place proper arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources for the year ended 31 March 2019’.

Regarding the 2019/20 budget and precept proposals, in his report to the Police and Crime Panel in February 2019 the Commissioner clearly set out the budget requirement, fully informed by the operational and organisational requirements of Dorset Police.

It also set out the Reserves Strategy, outlining measures to retain the existing minimum 3% and in time increase this to the target of 5%.

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Fight to get a fair share of the Police Funding Formula

Fight to get a fair share of the Police Funding Formula

Since the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) first took office in 2012 he has been working in a prolonged period of austerity which has seen significant cuts in government funding to all aspects of the public sector, including policing. This has seen major reductions in Dorset Police budgets, a fall in officer and staff numbers to their lowest levels since the 1980s and an increased burden placed on local council tax payers to help fund budget shortfalls.

An initial review and attempted reform to the funding formula by the Home Office in 2015 failed after it was discovered that flawed data was being used in the calculations. Since then, whilst the review remains ongoing, little progress has been made – particularly since the UK’s departure from the European Union has increasingly dominated the national political agenda.

 In terms of specific lobbying activity since his re-election in 2016, the PCC has:

In November 2018, both the Chief Constable and the Police & Crime Commissioner joined others in calling for the Government to provide more central funding for policing.

The PCC will continue fighting for a fair share for Dorset and looks forward to raising this issue with the new government administration as soon as possible. His office will also ensure that regular and accurate information regarding the Force’s funding situation is easily accessible.

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Keep Dorset's Neighbourhood Policing Teams

Keep Dorset's Neighbourhood Policing Teams

Despite the ongoing financial cuts and associated impact on police resources, the PCC made a commitment to retain Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs) in Dorset.

Neighbourhood Policing is recognised as an essential part of the UK policing approach that aims to connect communities directly and seamlessly to specialist policing services at local level.

It encourages the use of locally tailored evidence-based practice to have a sustained impact on reducing harm, repeat demand and increasing community resilience.

Alongside community engagement, it requires effective data sharing between different agencies for problems to be identified and properly understood, and for effective decision making and action at the neighbourhood level. Neighbourhood policing is specifically effective at: 

  • Reducing public perceptions of disorder;
  • Increasing trust and confidence in the police; and
  • Increasing the perceived legitimacy of the police

The current Dorset Police structure includes 12 geographical neighbourhood areas, led by an Inspector, underpinned by 59 NPTs.

NPTs are usually made up of a combination of Sergeants, Constables and PCSOs. Further information on NPTs and their activity can be accessed via the Dorset Police website and associated social media accounts.

In April 2018, furthering the commitment to neighbourhood policing, Dorset Police introduced a new Police Community Support Investigator (PCSI) role to better meet the demands of modern policing. 

Changes as a result of the Force’s new delivery model will free up officers’ time, generating increases in people and resources to teams dealing with cyber-crime, child sexual exploitation and sex offences, as well as other areas that generate higher levels of risk to the public.

July 2019 also saw the launch of the Neighbourhood Engagement Contract (NEC) initiative, setting out 10 minimum standards and common objectives that each NPT aim to achieve within their area.

The contract and the neighbourhood plans that flow from it, aim to outline how local policing teams will engage with their local community through community meetings, partnerships and social media feeds as well as share best practice and good ideas.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) has played a key role in reviewing NPT assessments against the NEC, providing feedback on current activity and informing future neighbourhood plans.

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Keep PCSOs in Dorset

Keep PCSOs in Dorset

Despite the ongoing financial cuts and associated impact on police resources, the PCC made a commitment to retain the Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) role in Dorset.

PCSOs form a vital part of neighbourhood policing, providing highly visible patrols with the purpose of engaging with and reassuring the public, increasing orderliness in public places and being accessible to communities and partner agencies. PCSOs have a range of designated powers reflective of the role that they perform.

The current Dorset Police structure includes 12 geographical neighbourhood areas; led by an Inspector, underpinned by 59 NPTs. NPTs are usually made up of a combination of Sergeants, Constables and PCSOs. Further information on NPTs and their activity can be accessed via the Dorset Police website and associated social media accounts.

In April 2018, furthering the commitment to neighbourhood policing, Dorset Police introduced a new Police Community Support Investigator (PCSI) role to better meet the demands of modern policing.

A total of 31 PCSIs are based around the county and deal with incidents deemed as posing a lower level of threat, harm and risk, such as criminal damage, shed breaks and vehicle crime.

They record crimes, carry out the initial investigations – such as locating CCTV footage and potential witnesses – take statements and provide reassurance and crime prevention advice to victims.

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Deploy new resources to frontline duties

Deploy new resources to frontline duties

Despite cuts to police funding, the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) has remained determined to ensure any savings achieved from improved efficiency and the Strategic Alliance with Devon & Cornwall are used to enhance frontline policing resources – particularly to meet the changing nature of crime and demand.

Savings under the Strategic Alliance and the introduction of ‘Organisational Business Design (OBD)’ – a new delivery model for frontline policing – have increased the resource available to front line policing.

They have done this by making savings in back office areas and making the most of resources available to the frontline.

Through this work, the overall level of resources available to Dorset Police has increased, and the proportion of resources spent on back office functions has reduced from 10% to 9%, increasing the level of available resources in operational and operational support roles.

The full implementation of OBD has been designed to reduce demand on frontline officers by adopting a new approach, including a new deployment allocation system for certain types of activity.  OBD improves the workforce allocation and workforce mix to better deliver the required Police & Crime Plan outcomes. 

Funding has been allocated for the Performance of Routine Information System Management (PRISM) change programme, which has included the roll out of Body Worn Video (BWV), a new Command and Control system, and other technological developments such as a common Command Centre platform with Devon & Cornwall Police.  PRISM has delivered vital change to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness.

The ‘Working Together’ programme with Devon & Cornwall Police has included the realisation of cashable savings, increases operational capacity and capability, whilst also delivering efficiencies in support service delivery.

Revenue funding of the capital programme has ensured a sustainable core capital programme, maintaining Force assets to an appropriate level.

The PCC and Chief Constable have also jointly created a £1M Innovation Fund. 

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Support the health and wellbeing of officers and staff

Support the health and wellbeing of officers and staff

The PCC pledged to put additional investment into health and wellbeing initiatives for Dorset Police personnel.

The pressures faced by emergency service personnel have been well publicised. In Dorset, the Force has experienced an increase in not only demand, but also complexity – with emerging threats such as cybercrime, child sexual exploitation and county lines drug gangs becoming more prevalent in recent years.

Of course, such challenges have occurred at a time of central government budget cuts. The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has described this as a perfect storm, in which the work required of Dorset Police is ever more challenging, but the resources available have shrunk. Indeed, police officer numbers in Dorset are at their lowest number since the 1980s.

Against this backdrop, it is sadly inevitable that the health and wellbeing of Force personnel will begin to suffer, and the Chief Constable has previously highlighted the increase of welfare referrals during this period of austerity.

In response to this, and the Chief Constable’s stated desire to improve the health and wellbeing of his workforce, the PCC made available a £250,000 health and wellbeing fund from his annual commissioning budget in order that extra steps could be provided to support those who are charged with protecting the public.

Over the past few months a wide range of initiatives focused on physical and mental wellbeing are being extended, introduced or otherwise piloted within Dorset. All these initiatives have been examined and scrutinised by the PCC to ensure that ideas are supported by evidence and represent good value for money.

Further, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) has also delivered projects to improve gym equipment across the Force estate, as well as improve some outdoor areas.

The projects will be monitored to understand the extent to which they are making a difference – with one aim being a reduction on sickness absence across the Force. Pleasingly, some of the early signs are positive: with attendance data showing improvement in the year to date and staff reporting that they feel better supported by the organisation.

The desire is that this fund will lead to a healthier workforce and, in turn, that members of the public will experience a better quality of service, not least because more of officers and staff will be fit for work more often. The OPCC will continue to monitor the initiatives to ensure that those with demonstrable benefits are continued in the future.

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Work with regional partners to keep people safe

Work with regional partners to keep people safe

In acknowledgement of the complexities and challenges in tackling serious organised crime and other shared priorities, the PCC pledged to work with partners and other police forces across the South West region. Collaborating and combining resources allows for a more efficient and effective response to cross-border issues.

There are a number of examples of how the Commissioner and his office contributes and/or facilitates efforts to work jointly with partners to tackle shared priorities and challenges, including:

Working Together programme – an alliance between Dorset and Devon & Cornwall Police with the specific aim of improving delivery, resilience and flexibility across the two force areas whilst also saving money and increasing efficiency.

The programme has seen the creation of a significant number of shared functions, both frontline (eg roads policing, dog section, drone unit, marine section and armed response) and back office (eg finance and personnel services) along with the convergence and alignment of a number of shared systems and processes.

The programme has realised annual savings of £1.2m which has largely been reinvested into police officers and other frontline policing roles.

South West Regional Collaboration Programme – The PCC continues to play an active role within the long-established regional collaboration programme, which provides oversight and scrutiny of a number of initiatives, including: 

  • The South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU), a five force collaboration to identify, disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups causing the most harm; 
  • The Counter Terrorism Policing South West (CTPSW) unit, delivering a wide range of counter terrorism policing functions through police funded Special Branches and the regional deployment of a number of specialist capabilities;
  • The four force Special Branch collaboration;
  • The South West Forensics collaboration, unifying services in areas such as Identification Services, Digital Forensics and Crime Scene Investigation (CSI);
  • Regional oversight and coordination of the national Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP), which will replace the current Airwave critical communications system with a more technologically advanced Emergency Services Network (ESN);
  • The four force Southwest Police Procurement Department (SWPPD), launched in 2012, and providing oversight of all strategic sourcing, contract management and supplier development;
  • The Disaster Victim Identification & Casualty Bureau five force collaboration set to go live by early 2020. This will align resources, training, exercises, kit and equipment and the development of standard operating procedures.

South West Reducing Reoffending Board – created in 2019 to co-ordinate efforts regionally to break the cycle of reoffending and influence Government reforms to the provision of probation and offender management services. The board has identified four priority groups for focus:

  • Female offenders;
  • Resettlement and rehabilitation for those serving short term sentences;
  • Youth to Adult transition;
  • Veterans

This compliments a number of local groups, working together to tackle shared crime, community safety and criminal justice priorities, including Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs), the Dorset Criminal Justice Board (DCJB), the Dorset Strategic Road Safety Partnership (DSRSP) and Dorset Anti-Slavery Partnership (ASP).

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Develop ways to allow the best to enter the Force

Develop ways to allow the best to enter the Force

At the time of his re-election in 2016, the Police and Crime Commissioner was a member of the College of Policing Professional Committee who were overseeing reforms and innovations regarding police recruitment, retention and development. The PCC was keen to ensure such innovations were adopted locally.

Within this term, the Police and Crime Commissioner has assisted the Force in the introduction of three significant new national recruitment initiatives – namely, Direct Entry, Police Now and the Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF).

The Direct Entry scheme allows exceptional candidates to enter policing at Inspector or Superintendent level based on their knowledge, experience and transferable skills. In 2017, Dorset Police welcomed its first person to join the Force through this programme.

In 2018, eight new officers also joined Dorset Police through the Police Now scheme. The Police Now programme trains and develops graduates to become leaders in neighbourhood policing. Student Officers are placed in some of the most challenging communities in England and Wales, getting to know the issues up close and developing innovative ideas and techniques to tackle some of the challenges. There is an expectation they will be a visible leader in the community, developing skills in negotiation, problem solving, decision-making, resilience and emotional intelligence as a neighbourhood police officer.

As part of PEQF, new entrants at police constable level how have three routes:

  • Apprenticeship – Join as a constable and follow an apprenticeship in professional policing practice. This route normally takes three years with on and off-the-job learning. On successfully finishing the programme you complete your probation and achieve a degree.
  • Degree-holder entry – If you have a degree, you can join and follow a work-based programme, supported by off-the-job learning. This route normally takes two years, and the learning you have undergone is recognised in a graduate diploma in professional policing practice when you complete your probation.
  • Pre-join degree – If you want to study first, you can do a three-year degree in professional policing at your own expense, then apply to a force and follow a shorter on-the-job training programme. Being a special constable can be included in this route.

Dorset Police have adopted this process and now accept applicants through each of these routes. The OPCC has been closely involved in working through preparations for these changes and signing off the necessary business cases and contractual arrangements for these new processes.

The introduction of Direct Entry, Police Now and PEQF compliments existing officer and staff performance monitoring measures, including appraisals, training and mentoring geared towards the ongoing development of individuals to assist with retention, talent management and progression.

For further information, see our commitment relating to Evidence Based Policing, which includes an update on academic opportunities available to officers and staff, enhancing their personal development while providing wider benefits to the organisation.


 

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Improve technology for virtual hearings

Improve technology for virtual hearings

The Police and Crime Commissioner has a statutory responsibility to work with Criminal Justice System (CJS) partners to ensure an efficient and effective justice system locally.

This work is essentially driven at the strategic level by the Dorset Criminal Justice Board, chaired by the Chief Constable, and of which the commissioner is an active participant.

The commissioner is keen to work with partners to promote technology and more effective IT systems and structures to facilitate some of the required processes within the CJS. One of these ambitions relates to the ability for remand hearings, prisoner productions and court cases to be held virtually.

All three custody blocks within Dorset use ‘live links’ hardware to enable remand hearings to take place. This technology can also be used for prisoner productions - in which someone who is serving a custodial sentence admits another crime and has to be interviewed by the Force, traditionally in a police custody suite rather than in prison.

However, progress of the national Video Enabled Justice (VEJ) programme has been slow, as forces are waiting for issues around resourcing and facilities to be resolved and for an agreed national operating model from Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service.

The PCC, in his capacity as Chair of the Independent Custody Visitors Association (ICVA), has written to Ministers to highlight his concerns over the delays to the introduction of this system.

Despite these challenges it has been agreed locally by partner agencies that the link from Bournemouth custody can be used for disabled detainees, rather than requiring a transfer of the detainee to a Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant court.

In May 2019, a member of the Police & Crime Panel carried out a ‘spotlight scrutiny’ review of this commitment, along with related commitments. The comment on this commitment was:

“There is good evidence that the investment of equipment, IT and staff has made a difference in how witnesses and victims can provide evidence.

"With the additional support provided by the Witness Care Team and the efficiencies gained from freeing up police officer time the review has established that this has been money well spent. The use also of video enabled technology to assist police in other functions (interviews, Inspector Reviews etc.) has also made a difference in reducing officer time in travel and in turn efficiently deliver elements of the detention process.

“The current response by the police in how defendants are managed is a pragmatic response that is efficient, effective and economical.”

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Improve computer technology for remote evidence

Improve computer technology for remote evidence

The Police and Crime Commissioner has a statutory responsibility to work with Criminal Justice System (CJS) partners to ensure an efficient and effective justice system locally.

One of the PCC’s ambitions relates to the ability for witnesses, particularly the most vulnerable, to be able to give evidence remotely in a more supportive setting than the courtroom itself.

The Dorset Remote Live Link (DRLL) has been live for more than three years and continues to provide a safe environment for the most vulnerable witnesses and victims when providing evidence at both Magistrates and Crown Court.

National evidence supports the use of DRLL which enables vulnerable witnesses to give their best evidence by providing a safe, secure environment with people eg family, friends and Witness Service volunteers, to support them. As a result court proceedings are more likely to go ahead and the witnesses are more likely to be able to complete their evidence.

A working group meets regularly to ensure processes are fit for purpose and discuss ways to improve the service. The most recent initiative is the introduction of the Witness Service Volunteer Pack.

This was produced by the Witness Service and provides the volunteer with all the guidance they need to ensure they are familiar with their support role, including signposting witnesses to additional help and support.

The PCC has pursued improvements in this area via attendance at the Dorset Criminal Justice Board and through ongoing liaison between CJS partner agencies and staff within the OPCC.

On 13 May 2019, a member of the Police & Crime Panel Member carried out a ‘spotlight scrutiny’ review of this commitment, along with related commitments. Their comment states:

“There is good evidence that the investment of equipment, IT and staff has made a difference in how witnesses and victims can provide evidence. With the additional support provided by the Witness Care Team and the efficiencies gained from freeing up police officer time the review has established that this has been money well spent.

"The use of video enabled technology to assist police in other functions (interviews, Inspector Reviews etc.) has also made a difference in reducing officer time in travel and in turn efficiently deliver elements of the detention process.

“The current response by the police in how defendants are managed is a pragmatic response that is efficient, effective and economical.”

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Continue to pursue better technology

Continue to pursue better technology

In his 2016 manifesto the Police and Crime Commissioner pledged to work with Dorset Police to improve Force technology and infrastructure.

He also committed to continuing work with our alliance partner, Devon & Cornwall Police, and more widely with the South West region to explore ways to develop systems and technology to better support operational policing.

Despite the challenges of austerity and the longstanding pressure on police budgets, the PCC has continued to invest in new technology in support of Dorset Police.

During the term of office this has seen the embedding and development of the NICHE records management system, the roll out of mobile devices to frontline officers and support staff, the implementation of Body Worn Video and the launch of the first dedicated drone unit nationally.

It has also seen advancements in video-enabled justice – including facilities for police officers to give evidence to court remotely, facilities to enable virtual remand hearings and facilities to enable victims and witnesses to give evidence remotely.

The PCC, and his representatives, have worked with the Force to approve business cases for the above commitments, identify the necessary funding and ensure new initiatives are appropriately evaluated.

In terms of the alliance with Devon and Cornwall, a key strand of this work has been a programme to align the IT systems in use across both forces. This has seen the introduction of Microsoft 365 and Skype for Business, improvements to networks, Wi-Fi and mobile data capability, and the procurement of a new Command and Control system for Dorset which will align this operating system with its alliance partner.

Again, the PCC and his office have liaised closely with police colleagues to ensure plans are robust and projects keep to schedule.

Regionally, a significant area of focus is on the South West implementation of the national Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme – a particularly challenging project to introduce a new Emergency Services Network  critical communications system to replace the existing Airwave service used by our emergency services.

The PCC’s work in this area has helped ensure the Force has access to new and improved technology and is better equipped to deal with modern threats and demands.

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Introduce body worn video for officers

Introduce body worn video for officers

In his 2016 manifesto the Police and Crime Commissioner pledged to work with Dorset Police to improve Force technology and infrastructure.

One element of this included a commitment to continue work from his first term of office to introduce Body Worn Video (BWV) for police officers.

This invoves wearable video and audio recording devices aimed at improving interactions between officers and the public.

The PCC is a strong proponent of BWV as a tool to increase the evidence gathering ability of the police, especially in domestic abuse and public order scenarios. They provide an unbiased record of what an officer has experienced, making the police more transparent and officers’ actions more accountable.

He has long argued that cameras can help diffuse difficult situations as people behave differently when told they are being filmed, as well as proving extremely useful in court to assist officers who have been assaulted and in cases of complaints against police.

Public surveys undertaken by OPCC have shown consistent support from the public in introducing this tactic to the policing of Dorset.

BWV was introduced with a pilot scheme in Bournemouth in 2016, after which usage was phased in across Dorset, with all officers and PCSOs having BWV as part of their kit by the summer of 2019. The introduction of BWV was, in part, funded by money raised through the PCC’s precept setting responsibilities.

While it is still too early to appreciate the full impact and benefits of the introduction of BWV in Dorset, the initiative has been well received by both officers and members of the public. Early indications are also that partner agencies appreciate the availability and benefits of real-time visual evidence.

As part of a Spotlight Scrutiny Review undertaken by the Dorset Police and Crime Panel, it was concluded that “there was clear evidence both nationally and locally… that the use of BWV does impact on prevention and detection of crime, nuisance and disorder” and that “there is clear evidence of the force being held to account [by the PCC]” for the project.

Furthermore, the PCC’s independent scrutiny panels are also making use of this new technology to view footage in cases of Use of Force and Stop and Search, thereby giving them a greater ability to understand and assess Force activity on behalf of the public.

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Continue to invest in more advanced drones

Continue to invest in more advanced drones

In his 2016 manifesto the Police and Crime Commissioner pledged to work with Dorset Police to improve Force technology and infrastructure.

One such area was a commitment to invest in more advanced drone technology, a tool that the PCC considered able to have a major impact on the way policing is conducted, particularly in relation to responding to missing person reports, capturing crimes in action and recording evidence of major incidents, such as serious road traffic collisions.

A trial of the use of drones for operational policing purposes commenced in November 2015, during the PCC’s first term of office.

This six-month pilot demonstrated their value in capturing still or video images on difficult terrain and hard to reach locations for issues including missing people, wildlife crime and even support for armed response incidents. The success of the pilot not only led to the PCC’s manifesto commitment in 2016 but saw the Dorset, Devon and Cornwall Alliance launch the country’s first dedicated drone unit in the summer of 2017.

Drones are used in conjunction with the National Police Aviation Service (NPAS) air support provision, with non-urgent requests for air support always considered by the drone team in the first instance.

There have been particular benefits in providing support to operational policing colleagues for road traffic collision responses, crime scene photography and the policing of football matches and other major events. Being relatively covert, drones have also been deployed in support of surveillance and intelligence gathering on some occasions.

Alongside this, given the general increase in drone usage by the public for recreational purposes, the team have developed a successful ‘Safer Drone’ education programme. This programme provides advice and guidance on the safe and lawful use of drones – particularly given the often inadvertent risks they can potentially cause in terms of safety and security.

Speaking about the drone initiative as part of national case study, the PCC said: “My office was pivotal in driving the establishment of the Alliance Drone Team. I’ve seen first-hand how deploying drones at a road crash can reduce the impact on the public, especially in rural Dorset on the A35. Drones can capture 3D imagery and information from the scene in minutes rather than hours, and roads can be reopened much quicker.

“They are also invaluable in helping with searches for missing people. I am convinced policing can take huge steps forward with this approach. Deploying a drone costs a fraction of the cost of a helicopter and they can also be used when a helicopter is unavailable.” 

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Enable police to give court evidence remotely

Enable police to give court evidence remotely

The Police and Crime Commissioner is keen to enable police officers and staff to be able to give evidence to court remotely, using officer and staff time more efficiently.

All three custody blocks within Dorset have ‘live links’ hardware to enable police officers and staff to give evidence away from the court room.

Currently, evidence may be given remotely and directly from Bournemouth Custody to Poole Magistrates Court, following a pilot scheme which ran in 2018. The service was relaunched in summer 2019 after the resolution of issues identified during the pilot phase and it is expected to expand to Weymouth Magistrates Court then to Bournemouth Crown Court.

The PCC has pursued progress in this technology through his attendance at the Dorset Criminal Justice Board and through ongoing liaison between criminal justice partner agencies and staff within the Commissioner's Office.

In May 2019, a member of the Police & Crime Panel carried out a ‘spotlight scrutiny’ review of this commitment, along with related commitments. The comment was:

 “There is good evidence that the investment of equipment, IT and staff has made a difference in how witnesses and victims can provide evidence. With the additional support provided by the Witness Care Team and the efficiencies gained from freeing up police officer time the review has established that this has been money well spent. The use also of video enabled technology to assist police in other functions (interviews, Inspector Reviews etc.) has also made a difference in reducing officer time in travel and in turn efficiently deliver elements of the detention process.

“The current response by the police in how defendants are managed is a pragmatic response that is efficient, effective and economical.”

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Create a panel to examine complaints

Create a panel to examine complaints

The Police and Crime Commissioner pledged to create a 101 Service Improvement Panel to provide further scrutiny of the Force's customer service provision.

In order to provide an effective police service, it is essential that members of the public can contact their local force in order to report crimes, call for assistance and pass on important community intelligence.  

It is vital that the Force has processes and systems in place to ensure matters of threat, risk and harm are prioritised, while also providing timely and valuable assistance to public enquiries.

There is a huge amount of demand placed on police forces and public contact has increased in recent years, while police budgets have reduced significantly since the 2010 spending cuts. Dorset residents have advised the PCC of their concerns about the 101 non-emergency service – raising issues about waiting times that are common across most forces in England and Wales.

In 2016, the PCC launched a 101 Improvement Panel, to review the non-emergency contact service provided by Dorset Police.

The panel heard compelling evidence that many calls to 101 were unnecessary – that either they were addressed to the wrong agency, or that the relevant information was hosted online. The scope of the panel was therefore broadened to include other forms of contact – such as social media activity and the Force website.

The Customer Service Improvement Panel, as it is now known, scrutinises the quality of public contact handling, response times and the efforts being made to ‘channel shift’ or, in other words, route members of the public to more efficient forms of contact.

The panel considers overall performance data of the non-emergency service and looks closely at a random selection of calls made to the service to evaluate their handling. It is currently chaired by the PCC, and panel members include voluntary groups, elected members and other members of the public. The panel also includes regular inputs from a guest speaker, typically drawn from the public or commercial sector, to gain an outside perspective.

As a result of the panel’s feedback, the Force has adopted new service standards and, on those occasions that these standards aren’t met, members of the public are proactively contacted to explain why this should be the case.

Further, the Force uses the opinions and advice offered by the panel to shape communication campaigns, recruitment activity and improve systems and processes. The panel also invites organisations with excellent records of customer service to share their advice, so that the Force can identify best practice in this area.

Recommendations from the panel are reported to the Force’s Legitimacy Board and additional actions are agreed in consultation with the Chief Constable.

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Create a volunteer group to observe police contact

Create a volunteer group to observe police contact

This is closely linked to another commitment to create a Customer Service Improvement Panel examining complaints about the service. It forms part of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s desire to scrutinise the Force’s public contact and provide feedback and recommendations for improvement.

Each quarter, the panel looks closely at a random selection of correspondence made to Dorset Police to evaluate their handling.

Independent members assess whether non-emergency phone calls, emails and other forms of contact are handled appropriately. Feedback is then passed onto the Force for consideration and action, as appropriate.

Every member of the panel has been provided with access to the Force control room so they can observe the activity in live time and best understand the complexities of dealing with correspondence.

This has included listening to ongoing non-emergency and 999 calls as well as having sight of the systems used by call handlers, dispatchers and police officers. Such insight has helped panel members better understand the operating environment and make constructive and relevant recommendations.

As a result of the panel’s feedback, the Force has adopted new service standards and, on those occasions that these standards aren’t met, members of the public are proactively contacted to explain why this should be the case. The Force also uses the opinions and advice offered by the panel to shape communications campaigns, recruitment activity and improve systems and processes.

Recommendations from the panel are reported to the Force’s Legitimacy Board and additional actions greed in consultation with the Chief Constable.

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Develop a use of force scrutiny panel

Develop a use of force scrutiny panel

Due to the nature of policing, it is inevitable that police officers will need to use force while exercising their duties. This will occur during arrest, while protecting the public from harm and, in some instances, to protect the subject from causing harm to themselves.

The use of force, which includes a variety of tactics from compliant handcuffing through to the discharge of a firearm, is rightly governed by strict rules and processes. The public expects that police officers will only use force when absolutely necessary and their use of force will be proportionate to the circumstances.

From time to time police officers make mistakes and, sadly, there will also be rare occasions in which officers do not meet the standards expected of them. The Police and Crime Commissioner wants to ensure effective scrutiny is in place for the use of force – he also has a wider interest, given his national roles that include the use of force portfolio, as well as being chair of the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA).

In order that members of the public can have continued confidence in Dorset Police’s use of force, the PCC has established an independent scrutiny panel.

This Use of Force Scrutiny Panel comprises independent members of the public. It reviews a random selection of cases in which use of force is applied, with the panel determining whether each use of force was appropriate and proportionate given the circumstances.

The panel does this by reviewing performance data, Force use of force forms, completed by the police officers involved, and also considers footage captured by Body Worn Video. Feedback and recommendations are passed on to the Force for action and consideration.

The panel publishes an Annual Report of its activity, as well as quarterly summaries of the issues that it considers. Dorset Police has welcomed this additional level of scrutiny and has implemented a number of improvements following the panel’s advice.

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Develop an out of court disposal scrutiny panel

Develop an out of court disposal scrutiny panel

An Out of Court Disposal (OoCD) is used in cases of less serious, and often first-time, offending as an alternative to going to court. This approach has several benefits and is often viewed as a more proportionate and efficient way to serve justice.

An OoCD can only be used in limited circumstances and when the suspect takes responsibility for the alleged offence. Methods for dealing with suspects in this way include restorative justice, community resolutions, conditional cautions,  cannabis warnings, penalty notices and fines, together with appropriate interventions.

OoCDs are administered without the involvement of the courts and so the public expects that the police, who in such cases act as ‘investigators, prosecutors, judge and jury’, have some checks and balances in exercising these powers. For this reason, the Police and Crime Commissioner has adopted an OoCD Scrutiny Panel so Dorset residents can be assured that the police are making appropriate and proportionate use of this tool.

The OoCD Scrutiny Panel comprises members of the public and experts from other agencies. It reviews a random selection of cases – reviewing 80 such instances in 2018 – with the panel determining whether each instance was appropriate and consistent with Dorset Police policies, the Crown Prosecution Service Code for Crown Prosecutors and the Victim Code. Feedback and recommendations are passed on to the Force for action and consideration.

The panel publishes an annual report of its activity, as well as quarterly summaries of the issues it considers. Dorset Police has welcomed this additional level of scrutiny and has implemented a number of process improvements following the panel’s advice. For example, the Force is currently investigating why rural areas receive more OoCDs than urban areas and will report back in due course.

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Improve the PCC's transparency arrangements

Improve the PCC's transparency arrangements

Police and Crime Commissioners hold Chief Constables to account for local policing – to do this, effective scrutiny arrangements must be in place. Equally, the public need independent, consistent and clear information on the performance and activities of their PCC.
Transparency is essential to promote confidence in the PCC and will allow the public to compare the performance of their PCC with PCCs elsewhere.

Returning for a second term, the PCC was keen to build upon those arrangements and practices that had been introduced during his first term. He wanted to ensure his office set high standards in order that his team could lead by example.

Improvements to the PCC’s scrutiny arrangements are numerous. For example, the PCC introduced formal challenges to the Force, which are tracked on a weekly basis and discussed with the Police and Crime Panel.

These PCC challenges, which have included questions about estates, financial arrangements and firearms licences,  total around 30 and are informed by views from members of the public.

The PCC has also introduced and adopted a suite of independent scrutiny panels. These are discussed in more detail within other commitments. 

In terms of transparency, the PCC provides more information to the public than ever before. Perhaps the best example of this is through the use of the Police and Crime Plan online tracker, which provides updates against all 100 of the PCC’s commitments during this term.

The PCC’s office complies fully with guidance from central government and has been assessed by independent experts each year since the PCC’s election.

These assessments have led to the Dorset Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner being awarded with CoPaCC OPCC Transparency Quality Marks for each year of the current term.

The Chief Executive of CoPaCC said: “For my part, the office has demonstrated that they are transparent in what they do, meeting relevant legal requirements. They present key information in an accessible format on their websites and I congratulate them all on their good work.”

This links to other commitments around creating a panel to examine complaints against the service, and creating a volunteer group to observe contact with the police. 

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Explore new ways to minimise supervisory costs

Explore new ways to minimise supervisory costs

In 2015 the College of Policing carried out a review of police leadership. The review considered the changing demands for policing and made recommendations to ensure future leaders can be equipped with the skills, knowledge and experience to deliver the best possible service.

Recommendations looked at a wide range of areas including career flexibility, recruitment practices, training and development and legal responsibilities. The Police and Crime Commissioner pledged to support the implementation of the recommendations where possible.

Activity in this area has been driven by the alliance between Dorset Police and Devon & Cornwall Police, with the alignment of operational resources and a shared human resources department.

A strategy was developed setting out ‘to efficiently and effectively recruit, retain, develop and support individuals, bringing them together to form high-performing teams, which have the ability to contribute fully to the organisational and operational success of both Forces’.

Sharing functions across the alliance has resulted in a reduction of supervisory and management posts, and there are now senior managers serving both forces.

The new system also means there is now a much more resilient service across the three counties. Strategic Alliance business cases were considered and agreed by the PCC, alongside the Chief Constable of Dorset Police and the Devon & Cornwall Chief Constable and PCC.

The PCC attends, or is represented on, a number of Strategic Boards overseeing how the alliance strategy is being carried out, enabling him to hold the Chief Constable to account for how effectively it is being delivered.

In addition, Dorset Police also agreed to participate in the Direct Entry recruitment programme for 2017/18 and following a nationally led, but locally supported, recruitment process the first ever Direct Entry Inspector for Dorset was successful recruited.  Their role commenced in November 2017 with an attachment to the College of Policing before joining the Force for a 15 week constable training programme. 

See also other commitments relating to recruitment and progression and Evidence Based Policing.


 

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Use new tech to improve police deployment

Use new tech to improve police deployment

Following the successful implementation of the Niche records management system in Dorset Police and the roll out of mobile devices to frontline officers and staff during the Police and Crime Commissioner’s first term of office, he pledged to build on this to improve police officer deployment and briefings.

The existing Dorset Police ‘integrated communications control system’ (ICCS) – governing how officers are dispatched to incidents, file reports and check records – has served the Force well for a number of years but is nearing the end of its useful life.

The replacement of an ICCS is a significantly complex undertaking, given that it interfaces with a myriad of other police systems, databases and technologies.

However, in 2017, following approval of a detailed business case, a procurement process for the supply, installation and ongoing support and maintenance of an ICCS was undertaken, under an existing force-led framework.

The PCC and Chief Constable determined that as the force moves towards achieving greater efficiencies and more collaborative working practices with its alliance partner Devon and Cornwall Police, and with other forces in our region, compatibility of ICCS is fundamental to enable efficiency gains to be realised and maximise staff deployment and training opportunities across Forces.

The two decision makers therefore agreed to procure a telephony and command and control system that is already in place in Devon and Cornwall. Similarly, Devon and Cornwall chose to replace their ageing records management system with the one that is already in place in Dorset.

These decisions were all taken through the PRISM change and transformation board (Police Response Investigation and Safeguarding Model), where the PCC and Chief Constable are represented by the Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Constable. The implementation of this new command and control system is carefully managed by this board, and is on track for ‘go-live’ in the first quarter of 2020/21.

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