How can PCCs better support innovative working within their communities?

Blog post
Related Theme: Governance

How can PCCs better support innovative working within their communities?

In Wiltshire, the journey of modernisation and the use of technologybegan back in 2010 and continued with my election in 2012. It started with an idea of maximising out-of-office time and giving our staff the flexibility not to be tied to a desk.Our work with the local councils has allowed us to sell certain police premises and move into council offices in the major towns, sharing the space and working in a desk sharing environment of a ratio of about 3:1. This has enabled much closer working with public protection departments, revenue and benefits and parking enforcement and it has been recognised that local policing and many services provided by local councils are dealing with the same people.

This first transfer to co-location has required a second move within the building as we reinforce the new culture and remove the cultures that were brought together.What we found was that just putting people in the same building wasn’t enough it actually required us to move people again, to reinforce that move, within the building.

Alongside all this has been the roll out of laptops, mobile phones and tablets. Again, some of this has happened twice as the technologies have moved on and changed but we are now at a stage where we have some 1,400 smart phones and 2,100 laptops available to our staff.These changes of both culture and location have encouraged the use of mobile working.We have also reduced the length of communication. Within Wiltshire Constabulary we have no deputy chief constable or chief superintendents or chief inspectors.The communication between the top and bottom of the organisation, with the use of modern technology, doesn’t require these posts.It has enabled the reworking of neighbourhood policing teams and we are taking apart the silos of investigation and re-empowering individual officers to own crimes from investigation through to file preparation. We have removed the ‘handoffs’ which was achieved through a systems-thinking approach of the existing system and removed the silos.The challenges have been that we have, over the past years, de-skilled much of our work force or concentrated their skills in particular areas and what this new system is doing is allowing us to re-skill our officers within the new system, empowering individuals to be involved in the design.It has been designed from the bottom up, not top down.

The challenge with our technology being ahead of our neighbours in many ways is that we have little common technology.They may have Storm; they may have Nichebut platforms may be differently configured and different versions used.We have challenges around the use of storage and how we use it. Some of us are looking towards cloud storage, others are not.We are coming across the problem in the south west region where we have four forces already using Niche and one considering whether to join.We have different cultures within each force and this is causing some difficulty with integration. We have different relationships between the OPCCs and the forces across the region which causes conversations not to be the same, as those relationships are different. And, of course, we have personality differences between the PCCs, the chief officers and the culture of the senior teams across the region.

These are the problems we face going forward.

Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon