Are the police doing what we, as a society, need and want them to do?
Over the last decade, police demand has changed, as a result of changing patterns of crime, changing expectations about the role of the police and changing technology. Some of these elements – notably the expectations placed on police officers to respond to mental health crises and the safeguarding of vulnerable individuals – are driving considerable demand on police resources, at the same time as police resources continue to be squeezed.
The genesis of this project was the Dawes Trust’s desire to shed light on the question of how/to what extent police demand is understood and managed. Crest is exploring whether a more intelligent approach to measuring/ managing demand on the police would make it easier for the police to organise and prioritise its activities.
Changing demand also clearly has major implications for the policing in the future – for example how police forces organise their activities, the skills of the workforce and its relationships with other public services.
What are we doing?
This project is an in-depth review into the drivers of ‘non-crime demand’ and police capability. It aims to:
- Provide a clearer picture of some of the non-crime demands on police services
- Equip police and crime commissioners with evidence to enable them to better understand non-crime demand in their areas and engage with other public services/ stakeholders in areas of common concern
- Lay the groundwork for updating the police mission for the 21st century
So far in the project we have engaged with key stakeholders in two police force areas as well as HMIC and the College of Policing to agree a common framework for categorising non-crime demand. We have examined command and control data for flags (e.g. repeat offending, mental health etc and the needs of prolific offenders held in police custody). We have also collaborated with non-police agencies to triangulate police intelligence against data held by health trusts, schools, local authorities etc and understand to what extent demand is being driven by a few families in a few streets.
The project is also analysing published (and unpublished) data to quantify both the volume of non-crime demand and how it has changed over time.
The final report for the project will be published later in the summer.
Testing our emerging hypotheses and policy recommendations with our expert advisory panel, comprising representatives from the Home Office, College of Policing, the Police Foundation think tank and individual police forces.
Changing demand has major implications for policing in the future – for example how it organises its activities, the skills of the workforce and its relationships with other public services. If we decide that the police should be the emergency service of last resort, then the workforce and systems will have to adapt. If we think there is a better way to respond to (for example) mental health crises and missing looked after children then all of the public services need to pull together in the same direction.
Crest’s research into non-crime demand and its impact on the police will be published in the coming weeks. With resources across the public sector, including the police, still under serious pressure, prioritisation and collaboration will be key to ensuring resources reach those at greatest risk of harm.
Share you views by contacting a member of the project team. Watch this space for details of the publication of the final report.
Busy Bobbies? How non-crime demand is impacting on the police
The Dawes Trust is a charity that aims to utilise the funds held by the Trust for initiatives for the fighting of crime including organised crime by the protection of people and property, the preservation of public order and the prevention and detection of crime for the public benefit.
Crest are an independent criminal justice and policing-focused consultancy. Crest have worked for more than half of British police forces, as well as the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, to analyse, develop and communicate the strategies and insights needed to help build safer communities.
Harvey Redgrave is Managing Director at Crest Advisory. Previously, Harvey worked as a senior policy advisor at the Labour Party and was a deputy director at the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit.
Head of Strategy and Insight
Sarah is a highly experienced policy professional, with 20 years of experience working in Whitehall, arms-length bodies and the voluntary sector.
Find out more about