In the next few weeks Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales will put out their Police and Crime Plans for consultation. They’ve done the hard thinking, so are they ready to start pulling the levers? Crest’s Managing Director, Gavin Lockhart-Mirams, and Director of Strategy, Harvey Redgrave, suggest what may be on PCCs’ minds.
As public documents go, it’s a big one to put your name on.
A plan that sets out your vision and priorities for your police force, makes clear the objectives you will hold your chief constable to account against and turns your manifesto commitments into practical actions.
And then there’s the ‘and crime part’ of it too. The broader aims you have to improve community safety, support victims and pull together the rest of the criminal justice system, other local services and the voluntary sector too.
You want this plan to be read, to bear up to scrutiny, to inspire those you commission, to influence partners and to kick off a process of meaningful change across the communities you have been elected to represent.
But how to make this happen? How do you pull the right levers, check performance, stick to your timetable and keep everything on track?
Crest Advisory has worked alongside PCCs since 2012
We believe in the power of devolution to improve outcomes across the criminal justice system. We’ve seen how Police and Crime Plans can harness public support for innovation, for change and for bold thinking on how to tackle problems which central Government has for many years struggled to recognise or address.
We’ve also seen how important it is that PCCs have the right people around them to help deliver their vision. Form may indeed follow function, but for PCCs that function may well follow their Police and Crime Plan. New priorities may need new expertise. A different focus may require different structures and different skill sets. Rightly, PCCs seek value for money – their electorate expects and deserves no less. Investing in the right team at the start is critical to securing that value.
That starts with the basic functioning of the office itself. PCCs will want to rapidly understand the strengths and weaknesses of their teams. Do they have the right skills? Are the right people in the right roles? Often it is the most simple things that will make the biggest difference: an experienced private office to filter the vast amounts of information a PCC has to deal with and act as a conduit to the rest of the office; a ‘fixer’ who will go the extra mile in helping the PCC recruit the talent they need/ want, from writing the job description to conducting a head-hunt.
Being a PCC is a high profile and high pressure role – so having someone on hand who can swiftly (but calmly) help refine the message, draft a press release/ arrange an interview/ sort a soundbite/ clip for the evening bulletins will be essential.
But of course good communication goes beyond reacting smartly to events. The best communications advisors will seek to help their PCC find ways to proactively get their message across to the communities they serve. For example, Police and Crime Plans are statutorily required to be consulted on before the final version is published. But publication of the plan should mark a new phase in communication – not the end. Right now, many PCCs will be thinking how can they concisely, accurately and frequently explain their plan through their police force and beyond?
A PCC will need a strategy
What is the golden thread running from the strategic priorities down to frontline officers? How will that be communicated effectively and efficiently? How will those other organisations that PCCs commission respond to the plan? How can PCCs ensure other local services which must have regard for their plan do so with enthusiasm? And, critically, how can the messages PCCs need to send out to influence, to cajole and corral their partners hit their target – not just when the plan is published but again and again, increasing their impact each time?
Finally, what is the point of pulling levers and influencing partners if a PCC is unable to measure performance against the plan? We know how much some PCCs have struggled to get accurate data from forces about often basic outputs and outcomes. The quest for the single version of the truth, available to all, can be long, arduous and frustrating.
A dashboard is a good start but questioning the data is as important as producing it.
PCCs need enquiring minds on their side – analysts who on their behalf can ask the questions they will want the answers to: Why is this happening? Why could this be the case? What could make a positive difference? Is my plan working the way I want it to…?
Many PCCs know this and much more besides. But it’s worth the rest of us reminding ourselves how important their plans are, how important it is that they work and how accountable PCCs are once they put their names to them.
Pulling the right levers, checking performance and keeping on track.
By the end of this month it will be full steam ahead.
Crest Advisory can support recruitment, training, performance management, communications, policy and other strategic management functionsFor more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
ChairGavin Lockhart-Mirams is Crest Advisory’s Managing Director and has led the team since setting up the company at the end of 2011. He was a Senior Policy Advisor to David Cameron on policing and home affairs and before entering Government worked for Policy Exchange and Accenture.
Director of Strategy & DeliveryHarvey Redgrave is Director of Strategy and Delivery at Crest Advisory. Previously, Harvey worked as a Senior Policy Advisor at the Labour Party on policing, justice and home affairs and was a deputy director at the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit.
Last week Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) published the results of its annual study of public perceptions of policing, conducted on their behalf by BMG. The results are worth studying, both for what they do say and what they don’t. Read Crest Advisory’s blogread more
Security was initially viewed as one of Theresa May’s trump cards in the Brexit negotiations. The UK is an indispensable ally in combating terrorism, thanks to its globally respected security services and membership of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence...read more
Aside from lobbyists and political nerds, few people pay much attention to party conference season. A good job too, given the oddity of these anachronistic annual rituals. The conferences tend to show our political parties at their worst. But while much of...read more
On the face of it, there is nothing within this week’s crime statistics that would suggest we should be worrying more about drugs-related offences. While the surge in serious violence (a subject we have written about previously) continues apace, the...read more
Forget the hard-bitten stereotypes of Orange is the New Black, Bad Girls or Prisoner Cell Block H, the vast majority of the 4,000 women in prisons in England and Wales are non-violent and not a threat to public safety. Yet, women are actually more likely...read more
One of the oddities of the ‘David Cameron’ years in Number Ten was how little the politics of crime featured, compared to his predecessors. Following the election in 2010, crime fell in salience, at one point even falling out of the top ten issues...read more
One of the less remarked upon features of contemporary politics over the last decade has been the absence of crime and justice from big national policy debates. Crime barely featured in either the 2015 or 2017 general election campaigns (though the...read more
The criminal justice system is under pressure. Prisons are overcrowded, there are record levels of violence in jails, reoffending rates remain stubbornly high, and victims are waiting longer than ever to get justice. And despite continuing falls in...read more
"Give us the tools to do the job." That was the message we heard from Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) at the launch of our report Driving criminal justice devolution, which explores how giving more powers to local leaders could help to build safer...read more
“To lead is to serve - nothing more, nothing less” (Andre Malraux 1901-1976, French writer and Minister). Police leadership gets a qualified thumbs up from HMICFRS this week. Forces, inspectors say, are promoting ethical leadership, overseeing cultural change,...read more