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IMPROVING POLICE PERFORMANCE: A NEW APPROACH

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A new way of analysing which police forces are doing the most to ...
A new way of analysing which police forces are doing the most to

reduce crime and the fear of crime is set out in the latest report

from the public services productivity panel today.

Produced by Clare Spottiswoode, associate partner at PA Consulting, the report identifies a new approach to measuring the efficiency of the police, enabling police forces to better understand their relative strengths and weaknesses and where to look for advice on best practice.

The public services productivity panel, chaired by the chief secretary to the treasury Andrew Smith, is made up of a group of private sector

managers and consultants brought in to advise on improving efficiency

and productivity across the public sector.

Introducing her report, Clare Spottiswoode said:

'There is a lot of performance information collected on the police.

But to date it has not been possible to pull this information

together to build a systematic measure of comparative police force

efficiency.

This has a number of practical consequences for the police, including

the setting of a common efficiency target for all forces, which fails

to recognise the best and most efficient forces.'

'This report identifies a systematic, comprehensive measure of

relative police efficiency for the first time. It recommends that

the efficiency estimates are used to set differentiated targets for

forces, reflecting their room for improvement compared to the best

forces. This means that the targets would better reflect the current

performance of each force and the environment they work within.'

Mr Smith commented:

'I am grateful to Clare Spottiswoode for her report. Measuring the

comparative performance of similar providers of public services is a

key challenge. Clare's work has provided a new way of tackling this

for the police and is an important contribution to the government's

crime reduction strategy. Her approach will help raise the

performance of all police forces to the levels of the best. It also

has wide potential application across the public sector.'

Charles Clarke, home office minister responded:

'This report paves the way for establishing a more effective and

transparent way of measuring police performance across England and

Wales, which is good news for the police service and the public

alike.'

'However, before any decision is taken to adopt these techniques,

they will be piloted and then subjected to a thorough evaluation in

consultation with the APA and ACPO.' Key recommendations in the

report include:

- focussing the concept of police efficiency onto the performance of

forces in delivering outcomes for the resources that they have

available to them. This changes the focus away from measures of

input, to the difference that the police are making to the things

that matter most to the public with the resources that they have.

- using a comparatively small number of best value outcome measures in

two efficiency-measuring techniques - Stochastic Frontier Analysis

and Data Envelopment Analysis. These techniques would also take into

account the impact that quantifiable socio-economic and environmental

factors have on policing.

- using the results of the two techniques to estimate the relative

efficiency of each police force. Forces would be ranked into bands

of relative efficiency, with forces in the lower bands being asked to

make up about half of the gap between themselves and the top

performing forces. Top forces would be given comparatively smaller

targets.

- integrating this work into the best value initiative by using

selected best value performance indicators, and using the results and

the efficiency targets in revised best value performance plans.

- developing the techniques and applying them to the police in a fully

open and transparent process over the rest of 2000. The techniques

should be piloted in a few forces in late 2000, before being rolled

out in to all forces in mid-2001.

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