THE CONTINUOUS Improvement project has turned the spotlight on the force’s systems and processes from end to end with the aim of improving the service we deliver. June sees the one year anniversary of the project going live on Birmingham South and Solihull.
This feature re-visits the programme to find out what it was all about and to see the impact it has made.[/box_dark]
CONTINUOUS Improvement… from the beginning.
LAST year the force launched some major changes to improve the service provided to members of the public.
The changes followed work carried out by the force’s Continuous Improvement programme, examining local policing systems and processes from the time of taking an initial call from a member of public through to the custody process.
The new ways of doing business were built on the following five key foundations:
- Continuing to keep the public at the heart of everything we do
- Guaranteed neighbourhood policing
- A strong dedicated investigative capability
- Delivering the right policing response
- Ensuring the most effective and efficient service possible.
Solihull and Birmingham South LPUs led the way on the change programme, and their new structures and processes went live on 1 June last year.
The aim of the programme was and is to improve the service for the customer while identifying and reducing waste, duplication and inefficiency.
Continuous Improvement has seen the introduction of “policing by appointment” in a bid to improve the way the force responds to non-emergency incidents.
Policing by appointment gives members of the public the option to meet officers at a time and location to suit them. An appointment system means the public are clear about when the police aim to attend, so they are not left waiting for long periods for an officer to become available.[pullquote_right]
An appointment system means the public are clear about when the police aim to attend, so they are not left waiting for long periods for an officer to become available.[/pullquote_right]
Other changes include revised helpdesks, an incident resolution teams to handle all calls, a response team focused on rapid incident response, larger investigation teams dedicated to bringing criminals to court and community action teams to resolve local problems.
Neighbourhood teams will remain focused on community engagement and problem solving at a local level, including tackling anti-social behaviour.
As part of the changes, where appropriate the force aims to resolve more issues over the phone at the first point of contact, so the public are not passed from person to person or team to team.
Response teams in LPUs that have undergone the process are focused on immediate and early incident response, quality primary investigation and targeted visible patrol directed by effective tasking.
With the focus on improving service to victims, a local dedicated investigation teams help resolve crime issues faster allow teams to be in regular contact with victims.
There are four phases to the programme and by the end of the year the programme will have been rolled out across all ten LPUs.
The four phases are:[box_dark]
- Phase One: Two LPUs - Birmingham South and Solihull from December 2010
- Phase Two: Two LPUs – Birmingham East and Coventry August 2011 – February 2012
- Phase Three: Three LPUs – Birmingham West & Central, Birmingham North and Sandwell from February 2012 – July 2012
- Phase Four: Three LPUs – Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton in late 2012
All 10 LPUs should be working to the new model by the end of the year.
View point from a pilot LPU
Here, Superintendent Jo Smallwood gives her view on how it has worked on one of the pilot LPUs – Birmingham South:
“Continuous Improvement has helped us to focus on providing the right person with the right skills to deal with community issues whilst ensuring we deliver the service the public wants.
“The appointments system here is seen as a huge success both by our customers and staff not only enabling our resources to be available to the individual’s timetable and needs but ownership of the workload has led to more successful outcomes than originally thought…
“…an improved quality of response to demand and calls for service, keeping our promises, solving and resolving more crime, dealing with and solving ASB and priorities the public have identified as well as improving customer satisfaction with our service and actions.
“It really is about focus and effort, allowing staff to do the best in the role they are in and understanding that each of us has to make the best contribution we can to the whole – which ultimately is the need identified by our communities.”
LPU and beyond
The Continuous Improvement team has also been looking at how Intelligence should function at both local and force level in the future.
The CI team recognised that as the force moves forward the model for Intelligence needed to change in line with LPU changes and have reviewed processes to improve Intelligence service delivery at both a local and force level.
Intelligence is now devolved, that has created an enhanced local presence with appropriate supervision while retaining a central function to support force departments and priorities.
The introduction of the new working model has seen the creation of five new roles/functions on the LPUs that have undergone the process:
Response teams are more focused so they are able to respond promptly to immediate and early incidents. They no longer have to routinely see crimes through to investigation and will also be able to use alternatives to arrest, such as community resolutions or fixed penalty notices.
Dedicated neighbourhood teams are focused solely on the community they serve and are not abstracted to other teams. They are focused on community engagement, long term problem-solving, local offender management, civil intervention measures, partnership building and non-crime case management.
Community Actions and Priorities Team (CAPT)
This team will service scheduled appointments with the public, which could be held at the station, someone’s home or on the neighbourhood. They will have time to problem-solve neighbourhood issues without some of the current distractions, allowing for improved service to the public, initial investigation and quality intelligence.
The size of the investigation team will increase and be merged with local CID. Their role will be to investigate, arrest, or provide alternatives to arrest, charge and file build. Prisoner handling will also be this team’s responsibility.
Incident Resolution Team
Call handlers sit within the incident resolution team. This team handle all calls and will be able to solve queries from the first point of contact by being able to direct those calls to the right team within the new structure. Where there is no immediate resolution available, they are able to book scheduled police appointments as well as being able to record crime and non crime directly from the public.
What has worked well?
So has it worked? The Continuous Improvement model has made great in-roads to improving service delivery on LPU. The LPUs remain under review and the following areas are performing well:
- Response team and performance capability
- Appointment system
- Improving primary investigation and quality
- Electronic crime recording and allocation
- Positive disposals from custody and better bail management
- Neighbourhood and community action teams.
The force and the Continuous Improvement team recognise that introducing any new way of working will encounter some teething problems. To ensure the LPUs have been fully supported in the new structure the CI team has conducted regular reviews and made any modifications where needed.
Some of this support has included further training, the introduction of performance frameworks to ensure that officers have a clear understanding of how the work benefits communities the LPU and the organisation as a whole.
Project lead view
Chief Superintendent Dave Sturman, who is leading the programme of work said: “All successful organisations continually monitor and review their ways of doing business to ensure they are as efficient and effective as they can be and we are no different.[pullquote_left]“The initial feedback from the LPUs that have undergone the process has been positive with staff and officers adapting to the new working structure. [/pullquote_left]
“One of the key aims of the project is streamlining many of our systems and getting rid of unproductive, unnecessary and bureaucratic processes.
“The initial feedback from the LPUs that have undergone the process has been positive with staff and officers adapting to the new working structure.
“We continue to offer LPUs support after we leave them and they are running the model on their own. This is so we can help them with any modifications that might be needed and also so tha the programme can evolve so that we have the best possible product.
“There have been some obstacles along the way as we expected but we have been able to tackle those and solve them head on as they have presented themselves.”
What officers have to say
“The diary car has relieved a lot of pressure from response officers attending jobs – they are always full with appointments and we get less call backs from the public because they know an officer will attend’” – IRT officer
“Sergeants don’t see any “paperwork” as the system has cut out the need. Sergeants supervise through being out and about in the field and there is an ethos to trust the bobbies. We often go the whole day without seeing any reports and if you want to be intrusive then you need to go out of your way to review” – Response Sergeant
“Having a smaller nucleus of officers dealing with prisoners improves their skills and assists us in knowing who will be dealing with prisoners” – Custody Sergeant[box_dark]
Coming soon to News Beat – we will hear more from the officers who have worked within the Continuous Improvement framework and there will also be a short film showing Continuous Improvement in action.[/box_dark]