Conclusions and recommendations |
1. So far, the Home Office has not developed
a clear framework to assess the value for money of police spending.
It is unclear what data will be used to support the framework,
and when or how the Department would intervene to address poor
value for money in police forces.
The Department should set out clearly in its Accountability System
Statement the information that forces will be mandated to provide
to judge value for money. The Statement should also set out the
central interventions the Department would make to address poor
value for money and the criteria for using these.
2. The lack of information available to the
public and Parliament on some police spending hinders effective
scrutiny and accountability. Under current
legislation, the Comptroller and Auditor General's (C&AG's)
access to police forces' spending is limited to those central
departmental grants which are ring-fenced. Parliamentary scrutiny
therefore relies on the Department having good quality information
on the relative performance of police forces. However, the information
that the Department had on the benefits arising from the use of
mobile devices was poor. The Department intends to rely on Her
Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (the Inspectorate) whose
role has been expanded to include value for money inspection.
The Department needs to have information on both the system-wide
performance of the police service and the value for money of specific
centrally-funded initiatives and programmes. The Department should
set out how it will ensure that the Inspectorate has sufficient
capability and capacity to provide comparable performance data.
The Department must also ensure that the C&AG has rights of
access in legislation to examine centrally funded police expenditure.
3. The focus of the Programme was on providing
mobile devices rather than on the benefits they could deliver.
The Department was not clear about what
outcomes the Programme should achieve by when, and did not understand
baseline performance. Although most forces reported that the devices
allowed them to spend more time out of the station, some said
they spent less time on the beat. The Department and Agency did
not know why this had happened. Some forces have used devices
to save time and reduce the need for back-office staff, enabling
cashable savings, but this was far from systemic. The Department
and the police must ensure that business cases and programmes
focus on outcomes and benefits that are identified upfront and
are based on a robust analysis of baseline performance data. At
the same time they also need to provide a framework within which
to measure and track progress towards those outcomes.
4. Only a fifth of forces have used the Mobile
Information Programme to improve the efficiency of their business.
There are some good examples of forces using mobile technology
to make improvements, such as reducing paper work, but these are
the minority. Despite spending over £70 million of central
funding, only £600,000 of cashable savings have so far been
identified. Some forces have no devices whereas others have one
for each officer and supporting staff. The Department has a responsibility
for improving the system-wide performance of policing and should
set out the practical steps that it will take to fulfil that responsibility.
It needs to provide all forces with the opportunity to learn from
and collaborate with those who have maximised the use of mobile
technology, in order to make the most of the investment already
5. The central contracts for buying devices
were not used by most forces. Most chose
to use their own suppliers due to problems with the central procurement
arrangements for the Mobile Information Programme. Those forces
that used mobile devices well told us that negotiating directly
with suppliers resulted in increased flexibility and benefits.
The Department currently mandates central buying of some items,
such as body armour and off the shelf software, but is unclear
whether greater mandation will deliver value for money or not.
There is also uncertainty about how the new police IT company
will operate and there are risks that it may not deliver the intended
benefits, particularly if suppliers have too much influence.
The Department and the police need to clarify the purpose
of the new company and, in particular, how it will support the
implementation of the Information Systems Improvement Strategy.
The Department should set out how the new company will be funded
and governed. There must also be clear guidance on what police
forces must buy centrally, with the benefits of this approach
backed up with robust data.