4. Areas for Review
4.1 Functional portfolios of Assistant Chief Constable (paragraph 1.5)
The functional portfolios of members of the Force Executive are now as follows:
Deputy Chief Constable
ACC (Criminal Justice and Territorial Policing)
ACC (Community Safety)
ACC (Operational Support)
Director of Human Resources
Director of Legal Services
Director of Finance and Administration
Director of Information and Communications Technology
Following the bombing attacks in London last July, the post of ACC (Counter-Terrorism) was established, on a temporary basis, with the appointment of an Acting Assistant Chief Constable to ACC (Crime). This post has since been formalised through Scottish Executive funding. It is a similar post to one that already exists in the Metropolitan Police and has responsibilities extending to England and Wales. HMIC recognises the potential benefits of this national post, which should provide Scottish policing with a focus for a range of counter- terrorism activities and a strength in co-ordinating these.
Since the Primary Inspection, the force has also introduced the role of ACC (Criminal Justice and Territorial Policing), a move that acknowledges the increased national focus on criminal justice issues. The ACC takes a strategic overview of issues across operational and support divisions. The shift in focus on matters such as report submission timescales has already delivered improvement. Recognising that areas of criminal justice impact on other Force Executive portfolios, a review of responsibilities is planned.
HMIC notes these developments in the force command structure and concludes its interest in this area.
4.2 Management of change (paragraph 1.9)
An ambitious change programme was observed during the Primary Inspection. Comment is made throughout this report on relevant issues, including business planning processes (paragraph 4.4), the project management system (paragraph 4.5), crime recording (paragraph 4.17), National Intelligence Model (paragraph 4.19), call management (paragraph 4.21), and Airwave (paragraph 5.5). The progress that has been made in these areas is described within the identified paragraphs, together with comment on aspects where further work is required. In overall terms, however, HMIC is satisfied with the progress that has been made towards implementing an ambitious programme of change successfully and concludes its interest in this area.
4.3 Progress and implementation of Risk Management Strategy (paragraph 1.16)
Risk management continues to develop within the force. The risk management framework, standard operating procedure, policy and risk management infrastructure have now all been finalised, although some elements have still to be fully approved by the Force Executive. The corporate risk register is in the process of being updated following comment and discussion with departmental heads and deputes. The intention is to produce a list of the key corporate business risks facing the organisation, which will link into other force strategies and corporate objectives. These key risks will be assessed as high, medium or low and will detail action to minimise the risk. It is intended that for each risk identified, an action plan be drawn up assigning responsibilities and setting out a timetable for achievement.
The Risk Management Group will be tasked with taking forward risk management and business continuity within the force. Though yet to formally meet, its remit and constitution have been developed.
Risk management has been integrated into specific project planning through the use of the PRIDE (Project Initiation, Delivery and Evaluation) project management tool, and has become embedded within this process. However, general risk management has yet to be embedded into the day to day activities of the force.
Business continuity has been integrated within the risk management framework and plans have been prepared for each division and department. None of these plans had been tested at the time of the inspection, but HMIC understands that since then they have been successfully tested in one division. Following rollout to other areas within the organisation, it is intended that a testing strategy be developed across the whole force.
HMIC notes the progress in this area and will examine developments at the next review inspection.
4.4 Business planning process (paragraph 2.5)
The force has used a phased approach to integrating its business planning processes into a corporate cycle. It recognises that key products, such as strategic assessments and results of partnership consultation, must be introduced into the decision-making process at the correct time. The Strathclyde Policing Model strands, which include the National Intelligence Model ( NIM), Problem Solving Policing and Community Planning, have been integrated into the business planning process.
HMIC notes the progress made since the last inspection, and is satisfied that the Strategic Assessment and Control Strategy processes are developing effectively at divisional and force levels.
During the Primary Inspection, HMIC commented upon the delay in introducing planning guidelines to departments. This delay in connecting support functions to the force planning cycle continued until recently, when the force established a timetable to integrate the force support departments into the corporate planning cycle. Departments include Finance, Human Resources, IT and Forensic Support. Departmental heads have been asked to create departmental planning teams to examine the current business plan against the Force Control Strategy (assessed force priorities). The departmental planning process should be integrated into the 2007-08 financial year planning cycle and allow departmental plans to be aligned with force priorities.
HMIC recognises that implementing changes in the business planning function within a large organisation cannot be successfully achieved in a short timescale. However parts of the planning process are now firmly embedded in the corporate calendar. HMIC looks forward to seeing the support functions successfully integrated within the planning cycle during the next inspection.
4.5 Restructured programme management and appointment of Force Programme Manager (paragraph 2.9)
Force projects are managed using PRIDE (Project Initiation, Delivery and Evaluation) methodology, which is PRINCE (Projects in Controlled Environments) compliant. Relevant staff receive guidance on using PRIDE and managing projects through an internally developed training course.
Governance of force projects is delivered through a co-ordinated structure that includes strategy groups with defined areas of responsibility. These groups, each led by a member of the Force Executive, progress strategies within particular portfolios and report to a Programme Board chaired by the Deputy Chief Constable. The Programme Board provides the strategic overview and ensures co-ordination across projects; the Force Executive sets overall strategy, policy and direction.
The Programme Board, whom HMIC observed in action, plays a pivotal role. It was obvious that the Deputy Chief Constable clearly understood the broad range of issues being worked on, and their inter-dependencies. It was apparent, however, that some issues that should have been addressed at strategy group level were inappropriately reaching the Programme Board. Also, not all participants appeared to be clear on the relative roles within the structure. A detailed guidance handbook, defining respective roles within the project management framework, has now been approved and should resolve any misconceptions.
Further structures are in place to support force projects. A Business Design Authority, to be chaired by the Deputy Chief Constable, will meet quarterly to evaluate proposed changes to business processes and ensure that developments are driven by operational necessity. A Change Manager was appointed in July 2004, responsible for assessing the impact of change, preparing departments and divisions for change, and evaluating the outcomes. Additionally, deputy divisional commanders and deputy heads of department act as local change managers. They participate in a regular Change Managers Forum, chaired by the Change Manager, to discuss and shape changes to systems, process and practice.
A questionnaire seeking members views of the effectiveness of the Change Managers Forum returned positive results. A deputies forum is now being established to address broader responsibilities surrounding issues such as human resources, planning and performance.
While the Programme Board and the rest of the project management structure have not fully evolved, HMIC is satisfied with the progress made to date and concludes its interest in this area.
4.6 Performance Management (paragraph 2.13)
Since the Primary Inspection, the force has re-evaluated its position on measuring corporate performance. Having moved away from the Balanced Scorecard, it is now developing a new performance management framework.
Work is underway to identify a set of corporate indicators, with an emphasis on linking these with the Force Control Strategy and its five high level priorities: terrorism; child protection; drugs; public disorder; and violent crime. At the time of the inspection, draft aims and objectives were awaiting Force Executive approval. The framework will include force performance against all national statutory performance indicators and progress against identified force projects.
The desire is not to focus solely on crime, but to extend the range of corporate indicators to cover the breadth of policing activity. The force intends to identify and introduce these additional indicators for 2007-08.
The Corporate Planning and Development Department is developing a performance report. Anticipated to be produced quarterly, this document is aimed essentially at police managers and will form the basis of future performance reporting aligned with the framework. HMIC has examined a draft report. Bearing in mind that its ultimate validation will be whether the audience it is intended for finds it useful, the report appears to represent a helpful starting point. Positive aspects include the use of both short and long term figures to allow a wider appreciation of trends, some elements of forecasting, breakdowns to divisional level to allow managers to understand their individual contributions, and traffic-light highlighting of performance trends.
There is a national dimension to performance management, of which the force is aware. HMIC will monitor progress on this issue during the next review inspection.
4.7 Corporate Communications (paragraph 2.14)
Since it was created in 2004, the role of Internal Communications Officer has evolved to deliver a more proactive service to the force. This has been possible through the introduction of an additional member of staff to support the function and manage more routine duties.
Consistent with the Force Strategic Assessment, a Corporate Communications Strategy that encapsulates internal communications is in place. Some issues have been successfully progressed. For example, positive feedback from operational staff on the electronic briefing was particularly noted. Planned developments include creating a toolkit offering various options for communicating information, including greater use of audio visual technology and an internal television channel. The toolkit may help to allay the concerns of staff who feel overwhelmed by the number of e-mails received and worry that as a result important information will be missed.
A notable recent development has been the introduction, on a trial basis, of a communications officer for 'U' Division (Ayrshire). This role will focus on internal communications, although work with partner agencies is also planned. The effectiveness of the role will be evaluated after 18 months. In addition there is a member of staff whose main role is to develop the intranet system, a primary information resource.
The general view of staff was that internal communications were developing, though scope for further improvement remained. HMIC looks forward to examining further progress during the next review inspection.
4.8 Decentralisation of personnel management (paragraph 3.3)
The personnel managers based in operational divisions have taken on a number of duties previously carried out at force headquarters. They have also reduced the personnel burden borne by deputy divisional commanders. This has released these officers to address issues such as health and safety, performance management, risk management and more generally to support divisional commanders, allowing commanders in turn to adopt a more strategic overview. Some inconsistency in the roles performed by personnel managers is, however, apparent. Consequently it is difficult to ascertain whether the potential benefits have been maximised force-wide.
Before the personnel managers were introduced, deputy divisional commanders were responsible for personnel matters relating to police officers, while divisional administration managers were responsible for those relating to force support staff. Since then, divisional administration managers have retained responsibility for force support staff, although they may seek assistance from personnel managers on more contentious issues. Having professional staff available to divisions, but whose services are principally restricted to police officers, fails to maximise the potential benefits and creates an unnecessary and undesirable division between police and support staff.
Introducing the personnel managers is a positive step in supporting management and staff in divisions. But with staff numbers in territorial divisions sometimes exceeding one thousand, their capacity to provide a comprehensive service is limited. Thus, limiting their input to police officers only is perhaps understandable.
In addition to the personnel managers, new resource managers have taken up post. With the extension of devolved budgeting, developments in community planning partnerships on a divisional level and the consequent acquisition and management of finances such as regeneration funding, the question arises as to whether the divisional management and administrative support function is best suited to react and respond to evolving demands. At the time of this Inspection, administrative and personnel functions were under review. Examining all divisional support functions, including personnel managers, would allow the force to identify the services needed on a divisional level and the specific roles, responsibilities and relevant skills profiles required.
HMIC looks forward to examining progress in relation to decentralised personnel management, as well as to considering divisional support provision in general, during the next review inspection.
4.9 Race Equality Scheme (paragraph 3.24)
Strathclyde Police published its revised Race Equality Scheme ( RES) in November 2005. Copies can be obtained via the force website and in hard copy format; it is also available in a number of languages and formats. The document sets out the force's commitment to promote racial equality and good race relations.
The scheme is intended to illustrate, in specific detail, how the force is to meet the general duties of eliminating unlawful discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity and good relations between different racial groups. The force has shown this to be a working document that helps focus on diversity issues in all the work it undertakes. The published document is the public face of the scheme.
To ensure that the scheme is effective, the force has approved the appointment of two additional members of staff to its Diversity Unit. Their remit will be to monitor the RES, with particular regard to how services are delivered to communities within the force area.
The Diversity Unit and a number of other initiatives in the force illustrate a clear commitment to deliver race equality in Strathclyde. Examples of these initiatives include:
- Partnership arrangements for monitoring racist incidents;
- Money set aside for purchasing mobile CCTV to protect small businesses from racist abuse;
- Seconding a sergeant to the West of Scotland Race Equality Council;
- Developing a stakeholder matrix to facilitate effective consultation; and
- Requiring tender suppliers to complete documentation so that their compliance with equal opportunities and race relations can be established and recorded.
The force has effective mechanisms in place to monitor employment statistics as outlined in Appendix G of its RES. At 31 March 2006, the force had 195 members of black or minority ethnic ( BME) staff, which is 1.7% of the total staff complement of 11,546. This is an increase of 26 on the position a year earlier. The compares with a BME population in the Strathclyde area of 2.4%. The most senior BME police officer holds the rank of chief inspector.
As outlined in the RES, the force compiles an extremely detailed monitoring report on a quarterly basis. HMIC noted that the monitoring report was not, however, published externally. Whilst there may be concern that where numbers are small, publishing certain statistics could result in individuals being identified, this is not an issue for most of the monitoring information. The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 places a duty on all public bodies to publish monitoring information and to detail their arrangements for same in the RES. The Strathclyde Police RES does not specify how monitoring information is to be published and HMIC believes that this should be reviewed.
In sum, the Strathclyde Police RES sets out how it will deliver real improvements in race equality. Structures are in place to ensure that these are carried through to fruition. HMIC looks forward to monitoring progress at the next review.
4.10 Outsourcing of Welfare (paragraph 3.30)
The Employee Assistance Programme ( EAP) is established in the force. The most recently published statistics cover the period June to November 2005, and report use of the service on 287 occasions. This equates to use by 5.5% of staff over a 12 month period. This is a lower than use over the same period in 2004 (9.6%) and for the 12 month period May 2004 to April 2005 (8%). The reason for the drop is unclear. Comparison with service provision before EAP was introduced is not possible because of differences in service provision and the absence of formal monitoring under the previous welfare officer system.
Discussions with staff revealed mixed levels of knowledge regarding EAP, with some unaware even of its existence. In contrast, many staff were not only aware of the EAP, but commented favourably on its services and on the occupational health support provided by the force in general. Staff associations also receive monitoring information and commented favourably on the accessibility and out of hours availability of EAP services.
The force may wish to revisit the publicity for the EAP and to reflect on the apparent drop in use of the programme. Nevertheless, HMIC is satisfied that the EAP is operating effectively and providing a good service to Strathclyde Police, and concludes its interest in this area.
4.11 Ill health retirement (paragraph 3.31)
It was encouraging to note that, since the Primary Inspection, the number of officers who retired for reasons of ill health had reduced significantly from 77 in 2003/04 to 36 in 2005/06. The number of officers receiving half pay or nil pay due to sickness absence had also fallen. Though these particular figures may represent a snapshot in time, they indicate that the reduced ill health retiral is not due simply to the force refusing to medically discharge sick officers. While it is difficult to identify one particular cause for this improvement, it is indicative of improved welfare provision and attendance management in general.
Scottish Police Federation representatives remain concerned about the progress of some ill health cases. In these cases they would prefer the force to move to ill health retiral for officers they consider unfit for return to duty, whilst recognising the regulatory implications of doing so. Some anxiety was also expressed at the increase in occupational health nursing staff, as opposed to doctors, conducting initial assessments of officers on sick leave. The Federation believes that this has a negative impact on timescales for individual cases. There was also some concern that options for staff returning to work in a restricted capacity were limited. HMIC believes that in providing occupational health and the EAP, the force has demonstrated its commitment to staff welfare. However, it will be important for Strathclyde Police to note the views and concerns of staff associations, and to satisfy itself that the whole process delivers the proper balance between efficiency and staff welfare.
The force has also been exploring the particular challenges thrown up by the occasional combination of ill health and misconduct. There are clear implications for the officers affected and the force must balance their welfare needs with its responsibility to investigate properly allegations of criminality or misconduct. Such cases must be dealt with without undue delay and the processes for monitoring and review must be robust.
Overall, HMIC is satisfied with the progress that has been made and the improvements delivered on ill health, and concludes its interest in this area.
4.12 Local measures to promote an effective Special Constabulary (paragraph 3.37). (See note at 5.1)
The Special Constabulary Review, described in the primary inspection, has been completed and a Special Constabulary Monitoring Group established to oversee implementation of its 42 recommendations. The group meets on a fortnightly basis and examines issues such as recruitment, training and deployment.
Although Strathclyde Police has more special constables than any other Scottish force, given its size and population the numbers are proportionately low. On 31 March 2005, the force had 257 special constables. This equates to 22% of the Scottish total, compared with the force's 48% share of all regular officers. At the time of this Review, the number of special constables had increased to 315. Other forces have made good use of the Recognition Award Scheme to increase both special constable numbers and hours of duty performed. In Strathclyde, a total of 121 officers signed up for the Recognition Award Scheme, of whom 75 completed sufficient duty hours in 2005/06 to meet the qualification criteria. Reference was made to the Recognition Award Scheme during a recent recruitment campaign, but to little effect. Total duty hours for 2005/06 totalled 37,352 hours. A total of 99 special constables are female (31.4%) and nine (2.4%) are of BME background.
It is currently planned that an additional 100 Special Constables will be recruited each year, with an intake of 50 every six months. Though managed by the Force Recruitment department, the focus and responsibility for recruiting has been devolved to territorial divisions. The recent publication of a detailed force Standard Operating Procedure will assist in this regard. In the past a common recruitment approach was to direct unsuccessful applicants for regular police officer posts to the Special Constabulary. In this way they could develop their knowledge and experience and therefore improve their chances in any subsequent application. In practice this meant that many of those who joined the Special Constabulary left after a relatively short period, thus failing to deliver a reasonable return on the investment committed by the force to their training. The force now seeks recruits who will commit to at least a year in the Special Constabulary.
In terms of deployment, good practice was reported in a number of divisions. In rural areas the Special Constabulary is a vital component of everyday policing. In more urban areas there was evidence of regular officers leading teams of special constables on patrols, to tackle community problems as identified by the tasking and co-ordination process. Not only does this help special constables to develop their skills and confidence, it also delivers tangible benefits to communities and releases regular officers to attend other matters at times of high demand. Regular officers have recognised the benefits this brings and the initiative is commended by HMIC as good practice. In terms of recruitment, HMIC will continue to monitor the position and will review progress during the next review inspection.
4.13 Devolved Budgeting (paragraph 4.11)
The Resource Allocation Model ( RAM), developed by the force, allocates police officers at different grades to divisions, based on a weighting mechanism. Though the budget has been calculated to follow this model, actual staff numbers in each division do not follow the RAM because of previous decisions made on required staffing levels. As a consequence, actual officers deployed in each division may or may not correspond to the budget allocated to that particular division.
In order not to penalise divisions that perhaps have greater officer numbers than those budgeted through the RAM (and vice versa), the budgets and actual spend are gathered together and monitored centrally. This ensures that overall budgets are adhered to. Divisions have no ability to hire additional staff in line with their budget as allocated by the model.
The force is about to review its RAM, while the HR director has been tasked with addressing staff numbers in each division to match the numbers allocated by the model. HMIC acknowledges the work underway in this area, and will examine progress on aligning personnel numbers in divisions with the RAM and budgets during the next review inspection.
4.14 Activity Based Costing (paragraph 4.13)
While the force now has a working model of activity based costing, it has not yet developed the systems that will allow actual activity to be measured. That said, the introduction of Airwave enables the force to record some instances of activity. The force is aware of the need to develop further an efficient system of measurement that will suit its working practices. This system will have to be developed alongside the performance management framework.
HMIC agrees that there is a need to develop a measurement system that is efficient and aligned to the operational requirements of the force, and will examine developments at the next review inspection.
4.15 Best Value arrangements (paragraph 4.21)
The Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 places a statutory duty on police authorities to secure Best Value. Statutory guidance defines the characteristics to be displayed by best value organisations.
A Best Value policy, guidance, standard operating procedure and guide to performing best value service reviews have been prepared, although the latter three documents are currently being amended following comments from the Planning and Performance Strategy Group. In addition, a shorter guide is being prepared to assist the roll-out to departments and divisions.
A decision was taken during 2002/03, to mainstream Best Value activity within the everyday practices of the force. Since then, a more formalised approach has been introduced, through the use of a Best Value service review programme. This will allow the force to demonstrate that it is meeting the key elements of Best Value i.e. challenge, consult, compare and compete. And a programme of service reviews is currently being developed which should address this. The force is aware, however, that more emphasis should be given to both option appraisal and project implementation review.
Though major projects which follow the PRIDE project management methodology have elements of best value principles embedded, these need to be more fully integrated. HMIC notes the work undertaken to date, and will examine the application of the Best Value Guide on the force's Best Value Review Programme at the next review inspection.
4.16 Compliance with recommendations of internal inspection (paragraph 4.27)
The force conducts a structured timetable of inspections, covering three operational divisions and a number of thematic inspections each year. At the time of this Review, a list of potential thematic inspection topics for 2006/07 was being compiled. Whilst a plan for intended thematics will be developed, it will remain flexible to accommodate any internally or externally emerging issues that have greater priority.
To ensure that all recommendations from these inspections are addressed, a robust framework of monitoring and review has been introduced. Progress is regularly reported to Force Executive meetings, ensuring that matters are not allowed to drift. From the evidence presented it appears that this process is working effectively. HMIC is satisfied with the progress that has been made and concludes its interest in this area.
4.17 Crime Recording (paragraph 5.15)
An audit to test the accuracy of crime recording was conducted, in line with the methodology identified in the HMIC thematic 'Meeting the Standard'. A standard statistical formula was applied to determine the sample size of incidents to be examined. This examination found scope to improve the quality of some information contained on the Command and Control system. The force is aware of shortcomings and is taking steps to improve performance in this important area.
Another area of concern was the number of 'no crime' reports relating to administrative process errors. In one example, where the wrong beat code was entered there was no facility to amend this other than by creating a new crime report and designating the original as 'no crime'. HMIC is aware that a detailed analysis of information demands within crime management is underway. This will enhance understanding of information requirements, helping the force in turn to determine the business changes necessary for an interim solution to this issue. It may be appropriate that the matter of administrative 'no crimes' is addressed as part of that analysis.
Strathclyde Police has no auditing structure in place to ensure that it complies with the SCRS. However, a force support officer was recently appointed as full time Crime Registrar. A key task of the post will be to implement an auditing structure, in line with that suggested in the draft ACPOS document 'Audit Methodology for Reviewing the Quality of Crime Data Recorded by Scottish Police Forces'. This will serve as a template for the Crime Audit Process within Strathclyde Police. ACPOS has yet to formally approve the document. HMIC will be writing to the Secretary of the ACPOS Crime Business Area to encourage all Scottish forces to adopt a clear audit methodology.
At the time of the Primary Inspection there was a backlog of 5,900 records. While the force has worked well to improve on this, on 11 May 2006 the backlog was still high at 1,706 records. A backlog of 1,000 is reported to be typical for a Monday morning. Although this is expected to be cleared within three days, the delay to inputting crime reports will impact on the tasking and co-ordinating process. HMIC is of the view that further consideration must be given to the crime recording process, and will review progress during the next review inspection.
4.18 Forensic support resource allocation (paragraph 5.23)
Recent changes to the demands and threats facing the force have meant that recruiting further Scene Examiners ( SOCOs) is no longer such a high priority.
The force is reviewing this area. Among other things, it will analyse data from a recent pilot of a force Forensic Resource Allocation Model ( FRAM) and consider the need to re-engineer several processes undertaken by the Scene Examination Branch.
Having been piloted from May 2004 to September 2004, the FRAM is now being reviewed by senior managers from Forensic Support, 'H' CID Operations and 'E' Division. The ultimate aim of the FRAM is to provide equality of service (for attendance at volume crime), by constructing a model for fairly and equitably allocating SOCOs across the force's nine divisions. As well as the different service demands in each division, account must be taken of geographical issues. Work is continuing on interpreting the data. On completion of the review, a revised business case will be prepared for increasing staffing within the department.
HMIC notes the work currently being carried out in this area and will monitor progress during the next review inspection.
4.19 Progress of National Intelligence Model (paragraph 5.23)
During April 2005, the ACPOSNIM Development Team paid an initial visit to Strathclyde Police, to assess its position in relation to use of the National Intelligence Model ( NIM) and the level of attainment regarding the National Minimum Standards (1) for the relevant processes.
Since the Primary Inspection, and until recently, the force has used a dedicated team to co-ordinate implementation of the NIM across the whole force area. The team ensured a consistency of approach to integrating processes and has helped to embed the NIM into mainstream policing. This work has now been taken on by Corporate Planning and Development.
During the audit, the NIM Development Team observed that chief officers were fully committed to implementing the NIM. At executive level there was sound understanding of NIM principles, enabling clear direction to be provided to the force accordingly. Indeed a number of areas of good practice were directly related to the leadership provided. There was also evidence of a good standard of tasking and co-ordinating ( TCG), including clear tasking, strong leadership and accountability.
The force currently produces a good example of a strategic assessment that informs the selection of control strategy priorities. The force has a low number of control strategy priorities, identified using a risk assessment matrix. This should ensure that the force appropriately acknowledges the most serious threats to its communities, and communicates these to staff for action through relevant TCG meetings. A good example of reallocating resources to tackle key issues is the creation of the Violent Crime Reduction Unit, set up to tackle this particular control strategy priority.
HMIC recognises the force's commitment and progress in terms of continuing to integrate the NIM into mainstream policing, including business planning, and now concludes its interest in this area.
4.20 Case Management (paragraph 5.46)
The increasing emphasis on criminal justice matters has resulted in a re-alignment of chief officer responsibilities to create an Assistant Chief Constable post for Criminal Justice and Territorial Policing. Supported by a Chief Superintendent with a specific responsibility for criminal justice work, this development and the profile afforded to such issues has found favour with partners in the criminal justice arena.
A core area of business is to improve police processes as they relate to offenders and the court system. A key aspect is submission timescales for reports to the Children's Reporter and Procurator Fiscal. For 2005/06 an average of 47% of reports were submitted to the Procurator Fiscal within the 28 day target period. At the time of the inspection this had improved to 69%, due largely to the renewed focus provided by the restructure.
Work is ongoing not only to improve internal processes but also to contribute to national discussion on issues such as non-reporting and warning options. The development of Criminal Justice Boards is considered a positive step in this area. However, the geography of Strathclyde creates challenges, as the various partners do not share co-terminous boundaries.
The recent nature of developments prevents a conclusive view being taken on progress with case management. During the next review inspection, HMIC will consider whether the positive improvements to date have been maintained and the planned high standards delivered.
4.21 Call Management (paragraph 5.60)
Introduction of the new call management process is almost complete. There are two contact centres (one at Motherwell, the other at Govan), three area control rooms (one each at Motherwell, Govan and Force Headquarters in Glasgow), and call handing units in each division. In addition to the area control room at Pitt Street, there is a force control room that presents an overview of ongoing activity across the force. The contact centres now receive all calls to the force, providing a switchboard service for those seeking a specific individual or department. Calls to report incidents or seek assistance are recorded and forwarded to the relevant area control room or call handling unit. The contact centres also receive all 999 calls. While these calls are presently handled by dedicated staff, they will in due course be handled by any suitably skilled contact centre staff.
Migration to the new call management structure ran from August 2005 to April 2006. Staff feedback indicates that some problems did arise where calls were managed inappropriately. This was not, however, a frequent occurrence and it appears that the situation has improved as staff have become more experienced. Some positive examples were also cited, including an occasion where, during a period of particularly bad weather, the contact centres managed calls that would otherwise have tied up police office staff in the area affected.
From the outset there was concern that improving call reception would result in a level of demand for police services that could not be managed. It is apparent that the processes introduced have served to accommodate that demand. For example, the training given to customer service representatives allows some calls to be managed without further impact on the service. Another particular factor has been the role of divisional call handling units, who deal with all lower grade calls that do not require officer attendance. In some areas a significant number of crime reports are recorded by these units, releasing patrol officers for other matters.
As separate call handling units service each division, there are differences in the way they operate. A degree of flexibility to meet different local needs is appropriate. But there must also be a consistency in service provision that gives clarity to contact centre staff and ensures a suitable level of professionalism. A divisional call handling forum has been established to discuss good practice and review standard operating procedures. This is a developing area and HMIC considers that to build on the work of this forum, Strathclyde Police may wish to evaluate call handling unit procedures in due course.
Given the relative state of development the call management function appears to be operating effectively. HMIC looks forward to reviewing progress at the next review inspection.
4.22 Air support charging regime (paragraph 5.90)
As the only Scottish police force with air support, Strathclyde Police continues to assist other forces in this regard where required. The regime for charging other forces for the service remains as approved by the Force Executive in 2004. Other forces' use of the helicopter has increased year on year since 2000, with part of the increase during 2005 being G8 related. Flights for G8 related incidents were charged as appropriate. Beyond this, a total of 28 hours and 30 minutes was spent attending incidents in other force areas, the majority of which related to "immediate risk/threat to life" and for which no charge is levied. The remaining six hours related to pre-planned events for which charges were applied to the forces concerned.
During 2005 the Air Support Unit performed 1,498 flights, totalling 1,107 hours, and attended 3,149 incidents. Although an expensive service, this is a valuable resource for both the force and the police service in general. It is correct that other forces using this resource are charged for the service and HMIC is happy to note that this is continuing in accordance with a clear protocol. HMIC concludes its interest in this matter.
4.23 Progress of Marine Unit (paragraph 5.91)
The Marine Policing Unit is presently staffed by two sergeants and ten constables, with an increase to 13 constables planned. The unit is based at Greenock Police Office, although alternative accommodation options are being considered. Since being deployed operationally in March 2005, the Unit has been used on a number of occasions in a variety of situations, including missing person search, security for royal visits and public safety at waterside events. The majority of its time, however, has been spent either training or providing demonstrations to external agencies. The training aspect is significant, as staff must develop and maintain a high degree of skill. A negative effect of this training will be the need to retain staff in the Unit, in order to maintain knowledge and minimise the training burden that new staff would incur.
HMIC recognises that the role of the Marine Policing Unit is developing in line with the three year plan outlined in the original business case, and does not yet function at optimum level. Whilst a service is clearly being delivered, HMIC has yet to see evidence to justify the significant costs. Progress will be reviewed during the next inspection. In the meantime Strathclyde Police may wish to consider an interim evaluation to weigh up the benefits of the Marine Policing Unit against the service that could be provided without the unit but through enhanced relationships with other relevant service providers ( e.g. Strathclyde Fire & Rescue, Maritime & Coastguard Agency, Ministry of Defence Police, and Loch Lomond National Park Rangers).
4.24 Firearms training (paragraph 5.95)
Development of the Quality Approval Programme noted in the Primary Inspection had stalled when, for financial reasons, Centrex was unable to deliver accreditation. This situation has now been addressed and the process has recommenced. Certification should encourage other police forces to use Strathclyde Police's training programme. HMIC will review progress with the accreditation and uptake of courses by other forces at the next review inspection.
4.25 Command of firearms incidents (paragraph 5.99)
In January 2005, firearms officers from Strathclyde Police were deployed to an incident which culminated in a man being shot by police. The investigation by Mr Shearer, Deputy Chief Constable of Grampian Police, found the officers' actions to be justified, though a number of recommendations were made. Assessments made by Strathclyde Police at that time suggested a growing trend in the criminal use of firearms. The combination of this assessment and the Grampian investigation led Strathclyde Police to instigate a review of the use of firearms.
This review made recommendations concerning policy and procedure, a number of which related to the command of firearms incidents. This included the initial and refresher training provided to officers concerned. It was proposed that a cadre of senior officers receive additional training to enable them to take charge of more complex or long term incidents. However, initial interest in this proposal amongst relevant officers was poor. It was consequently decided to defer the proposal until the review recommendations were addressed, at which time HMIC believes that a re-evaluation of this position will be necessary
The review also presented proposals to improve performance in a number of areas, including the deployment of armed response vehicles, the tactical firearms unit and the 24/7 firearms team, and responsibility for VIP planning and operations. HMIC will review progress with these recommendations, and with regard to the command of firearms incidents, during the next review.
4.26 Public Order training (paragraph 5.103)
The three year plan for developing public order policing, which was proposed by an internal Public Order Review Group, was midway through implementation at the time of the Primary Inspection. The public order requirements of G8 led to a significant increase in the number of officers trained in this area. At the time of the Primary Inspection the number of public order trained officers in the force stood at 860. This rose to 1,541 for the G8 summit. Numbers have since dropped to 1,359, due to natural wastage and to removing staff whose specialist roles would routinely preclude them from being deployed at public order incidents.
The G8 experience highlighted various issues, including training and chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear ( CBRN) capacity. Having recognised the benefits of using the Law Hospital site in the build up to G8, another particular issue was that of identifying a suitable training venue. One aspect that was highlighted in the Primary Inspection, was the planned testing of the effectiveness of call out and mobilisation arrangements. This has yet to be completed.
An updated series of recommendations has been prepared, which adds new issues to those that were outstanding from the previous review. HMIC will review progress in addressing these revised recommendations during the next review inspection.
4.27 Professional Standards Unit threat assessment (paragraph 5.114)
In response to a previous HMIC recommendation, the force prepared a Strategic Threat Assessment in May 2005. The Deputy Chief Constable has since circulated information derived from this document around the force, so that the concerns highlighted can be addressed. It is proposed that the Strathclyde document be used as a template for other forces preparing their own assessments, from which in turn a Scottish Police Strategic Threat Assessment will be compiled. The Strathclyde assessment is due for review. HMIC is satisfied with the progress that has been made and concludes its interest in this matter.
4.28 Health and Safety (paragraph 5.120)
A structured review programme of all Scottish police forces is being conducted using the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents ( RoSPA) Quality Safety Audit ( QSA). The QSA is a complete health and safety management audit system, the output of which is a detailed report concentrating on health and safety management systems ( HSMS). This focus reflects the finding that in 70% of accidents the underlying cause is a failure in the HSMS.
Strathclyde Police was subject to this review in December 2005. The audit concluded that Strathclyde's safety management system contained an impressive body of information and guidance tailored to force requirements. It noted that many documents were well implemented and understood by personnel, and that the force had a proactive safety culture. The decision to train Designated Safety Officers ( DSOs) to help fulfil health & safety responsibilities was considered impressive and good practice.
Force performance was scored using the QSA radar chart, which is part of the audit process. Percentage compliance is rated in a series of areas, namely policy, organising, planning and implementation, measuring performance, and audit and performance review. Strathclyde's overall health and safety performance rating was 72%. Given that the audit process is challenging and tackles health and safety in a different manner to that previously adopted, this reflects positively on the force. A total of 59 recommendations were made that would deliver further benefit and improve performance. These recommendations were divided into short, medium and long term priorities.
Whilst the specific issue of recording and disseminating risk assessments that was highlighted by HMIC does not yet appear to have been addressed, the delivery of relevant processes to meet the QSA standard should incorporate this. HMIC will review progress against the QSA recommendations during the next review.