Monday, 1 June 2009

Carrying out a ‘confidence audit’

In the article below concerning the single measure of confidence for the police service, I suggested that carrying out a ‘confidence audit’ might a productive way forward for any police service intent upon improving how much confidence their local citizens have in them

This short posting proposes how such an audit might be conducted. The outline steps in carrying out such an audit could be follows:

  1. Clarify the purpose and scope of the audit at a senior level – involving both the Executive Command Team and the Police Authority
  2. Select the team of people to carry out the review (I would recommend a ‘diagonal slice’ of officers and staff from different parts of the service and from all the tiers from frontline to senior management)
  3. Ensure that all team members have the necessary support and commitment to take full part in the Audit process
  4. Assemble & analyse all the information currently available on how much confidence the local public has in the local service.
  5. Carry out some scoping and cross validation with members and representatives of the public (especially including young people) to find out what kind of police service would give them confidence and what they think of the existing service
  6. Determine what a ‘high confidence’ police service would be like – including its operational procedures, corporate culture, and organisational structure (using the information gathered above and the creative power of the group)
  7. Agree what data needs to be gathered (and how) in order to assess the gap between the ‘high confidence’ specification and the current situation
  8. Carry out the data gathering / research process, and analyse the data
  9. From this analysis (and with reference back to the existing performance & public perception information) identify where the most significant gaps are.
  10. Prepare a summary of the information and outline set of recommendations
  11. Convene a big meeting of stakeholders – internal and external – including members and representatives of the public
  12. Present the findings to this big meeting and allow full, rigorous and authentic debate about what should happen next
  13. Draw together the findings from all this process and present to the Police Authority and Executive Team for review and action

This process is based upon a few key ideas:

  • Data gathering is critical so that a ‘scientific’ approach to improving confidence can be used to challenge established practices
  • Starting from where the public is at is critical – as it their perceptions which will be tested by the new measure
  • Since delivering services which deliver public confidence is a whole organisation responsibility – the whole organisation will need to be involved
  • As mentioned elsewhere on this blog – there is a need for ‘stractegy’ rather than a ‘strutegy’ to ensure robust improvements in confidence
  • This process must be led from the top of the organisation and so sponsorship needs to begin and end there.
  • Creativity is vital so that fresh approaches can be used to ‘reach’ the public
  • Delivering public confidence will be as much about identifying what more the police service needs to do as it will be about identifying what less needs to be done – there will be both driving forces to harness and restraining forces to handle & reduce.
  • A balance will need to be made between fostering lots of small creative ideas to deliver public confidence and shrewdly prioritising what are the few key things which need to be done at an organisation wide / strategic level.
UPDATE: Feedback from one chief constable on this approach who said:

  • Needs to factor in national research in what contributes to confidence as there is plenty of information already available (e.g importance of keeping people informed of progress of cases, making frequent but localised communications
  • Perhaps too much emphasis on what comes from a single large meeting to discuss findings
  • I agree about the need to prioritise the number of initiatives taken forward, given police budgets likely to be cut by 10% over the next three years. If we are to do something additional, we must be convinced that it will be effective.
To which I replied:
  • Yes, absolutely agree on the need to harness evidence based practice in all of this. I am a long time advocate of the need for more evaluation of policing practice – at all levels.
  • I take your point about perhaps too much emphasis on the big meeting idea. I guess I tend to go out on a limb with these a little because a) I know they work so well in gaining wide ownership of & consequent action on the issues involved and b) there is a tendency to focus too much on written ‘strutegies’ – where the emphasis is on gloss rather than palpable action (a ‘stractegy’ as I call that). But, as I say, I do take on board what you say.
  • And prioritisation will become critical as the cuts begin to bite. You might find this blog post of interest as my ‘one pager’ methodology to help people plan where to focus efforts...

No comments:

Post a Comment