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Northumbria saving thousands of working hours by removing 'checking of checking'

Chief Constable Steve Ashman says ideas have come from the front line.
Published - 19/06/2017 By - John Toner - Police Oracle

Northumbria Police is saving time by removing sergeants and inspectors checking requirements for volume crime work carried out by front line officers.

According to Chief Constable Steve Ashman the force has been able to save the equivalent to 12 full time sergeants and two and a half inspectors since the introduction of a pilot scheme.

CC Ashman told Police Oracle at the beginning of the scheme in February the system in place was “nonsense” and the force had a situation where “sergeants sit in front of a computer and check the checking of the checkers”.

Now four months on, the chief says in jest - “shock horror” officers can be trusted to investigate and process high volume, low level work without constant need for supervision.

He said: “We have seen quite a few benefits. All the areas we have looked at are ones that have come from officers themselves from multiple sergeants and PCs, some of the best ideas as to how we can improve come from the front line which is no surprise.

"There have been some significant results so far, one of the areas we looked at was the requirement for sergeants to supervise every single crime and this is what really brought it home to me as to why it’s necessary to change for volume crime.

“We ran a pilot which removed the requirement for sergeants to have any role at all (in low level/harm crimes) and shock horror a highly trained PC can be trusted to investigate these crimes.

“We saw an increase in victim satisfaction and we’re estimating that somewhere in the region of 2,500 hours, initially, of supervisors time to have been saved which is the time of 12 full time sergeants just to do the checking of the checking of the checking.

“This means they can focus on crimes where victims are vulnerable and go out there and lead - this is what they joined to do.”

The force also removed some responsibility around the processing of property for all but high value items and changed the requirement for the involvement of higher ranks when roads police process low level crimes.

As well as this it allowed officers to submit case papers for prosecutions on their own using a “dipping process” to check PCs work remains up to standard in the areas where changes had been made.

CC Ashman says the reforms are about “trusting” officers to do the job and said it was not about trying to “shift responsibility”.

He added: “All of this is about trusting people not about making them responsible when things go wrong, the organisation will do that.

“In these cases if you have put some adequate safeguards in place you can save dozens of staff members’ time so they can get out there on the front line which is what they want to do.

“We say (to officers) you tell us how you think your way of working can be improved or unpacked and if something doesn’t work down the line then okay but at the moment we are carefully evaluating this stuff.”

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