WHY TRANSFORMATION IN POLICING HAS TO BE
Is integrated step change management an answer?
The pace of improvement in police resource management and operational productivity needs to speed up significantly if the police service is to respond to the challenges of reduced funding and to realise the vital performance and resource benefits required to deal with borderless crime and the digital economy. We believe that it should not be just about making financial savings, but a step change in productivity, to deliver the performance needed by significant process improvements. It will mean a significant change in the police culture, and a transformation in the operating model, information and skills. This would need a holistic and sustained change programme, with a significant investment of the top management time with dedicated middle management responsibility. Needless to say, that this change management would only be successful by joining up all initiatives of a police force under a common business transformation agenda and a dedicated communication strategy to communicate the urgency and rationale of change to the operational officers and staff in simple terms.
Most of the current transformation programmes run across the forces in England and Wales in last four years have been focussed more on headcount reduction as against a holistic change. They have delivered mixed results. While headcount reduction has allowed the forces to deal with the budget reduction, performance on other parameters have not been exemplary. Estate footprint reduction, joining up operational services, shared services for support directorates and other such initiatives have been undertaken. Once the cost reduction goals are achieved, productivity and performance aspects of transformation get left out from the top management radar.
This is understandable considering that the leadership is trained to respond most effectively to an incident and not digging its heels deeper after the first level of change is delivered. This is an area where significant work needs to be done to build awareness, capability and capacity in the leadership.
The Justice Value Chain© Effect
I believe in an integrated Justice Value Chain©. Delivery of change in Criminal Justice and Public Safety is a complex process due to multi-agency involvement in the justice value chain and the regulatory requirements. However, policing being at the start of this value chain is the key area to focus, as efficiencies generated here have a large multiplier effect on the justice value chain elements down the line. Consequently the benefits to the government by streamlining of processes across the chain and an effective justice system are too large to be taken lightly.
If we draw an analogy from a manufacturing industry, in any factory, the ratio of finished product to the raw material needs to be kept very high in order to avoid wastage and high value addition has to be ensured at every step of the manufacturing process and the value chain. If we start looking at the number of crimes investigated vs. the numbers that are accepted by the crown prosecution services, number of court cases vs. number of convictions, number of people re-offending etc., it is not hard to find that the level of wastage in the Justice Value Chain© is very high and not sustainable in the longer term.
Are Integrated Step Change Programmes – An Answer?
Perhaps integrated step change programmes with longer term view are an answer.
If the forces have to go that route, organisations like the College of Policing, The National Police Chief’s Council and the Home Office have to take an intense and pro-active role. Having worked with over fifteen Chief Constables in the last five years, I have seen a desire to embrace step change. The inhibitors are the lack of capacity and capability to design and run such programmes. Most of them have not shied away from expressing their inhibitions. When large consulting organisations have been brought in for help, they have shied away from building internal capacity and used their template for delivering a programme far short of a specific approach suitable for a particular police force. Many forces have created organisation change functions within, but have not been able to attract and harvest the right talent. I have seen two extremes – forces where the change programme teams have used their operational policing position to deliver within the specified time without a holistic transformation vision supported by a sustaining structure and the forces where following the MSP (Managing Successful Programmes) and PRINCE2 has become the focus as opposed to the desired business outcomes.
Perhaps, it is the time for the College of Policing to design and deliver a comprehensive transformation capability development programme for the long term. Perhaps, it is the time for the National Police Chiefs’ Council to institutionalise step change transformation leadership across its members with deep support structure. Perhaps it is the time for Home Office to channelise its Innovation Fund to actively support and effectively monitor deep integrated transformation initiatives and stay away from point changes.
Above all, it is upon the transformation and strategy consulting fraternity to provide honest support to the police leadership. Policing was always a tough business and has become even tougher when it is under intense media and public scrutiny. We need to cross the fence and provide active support.
This insight has been also published on LinkedIn