Response 139681196

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Risks

1. Does the Policing 2026 strategy identify and acknowledge the main risks, challenges, opportunities and demands likely to impact on policing over the next 10 years?

We would welcome any view you have.
The Policing 2026 Strategy recognises future trends which match Aberdeenshire Council’s recent report, State of Aberdeenshire. The findings showed that services will encounter local challenges such as an aging population, inequality and the influence of drugs and alcohol. In addition, the Strategy shares several priorities contained in Aberdeenshire’s Local Police Plans 2017-2020 and identified by the North East Division: • Acquisitive Crime • Antisocial Behaviour • National Security • Public Protection • Road Safety and Road Crime • Serious and Organised Crime • Violent Crime However, our Transport and Infrastructure Service highlighted that the draft strategy makes no mention at all of road traffic policing or road casualty reduction. Despite the overall sustained reduction in Scotland’s road casualties in the past decades, this continues to be an important issue for rural areas in the North-east of Scotland which observe higher-than-average incident numbers that exceed local targets. We would encourage the Strategy to include some mention of this issue.

Focus

2. Do you agree the main areas of focus proposed within the Policing 2026 strategy are the right ones to deliver an enhanced policing service?

Please tell us why you think these are the right or wrong areas of focus?
Aberdeenshire Council support a Strategy based on the protection of the most vulnerable in our society. The focus on prevention will support a strategy of tackling inequality, however we would seek reassurance that the focus on communities and localism and meeting the Police’s responsibilities as a statutory member of the Community Planning Partnership to develop Plans as specified by the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, will not be diminished due to competing demands and reduced resources.

Methods

3. Do you agree the methods proposed within this strategy are the right ones to deliver an improved policing service?

Please tell us why you think this is the right or wrong approach?
Aberdeenshire Council recognises that Police Scotland requires clear Strategic Objectives to meet new challenges, a changing workforce and a national operating model. As a local authority and key partner we would seek to understand how this overall strategic vision will impact on the communities of Aberdeenshire and the service provided to them. In particular, we would like to understand what “Strengthening Effective Partnerships” will mean for local partners such as the council. The Police’s engagement with Community Councils, community planning bodies and ward meetings has been beneficial and has seen projects delivered in communities in recent years. Partners wish to see the Police’s continued commitment to localism, in spite of the pressures of centralisation and reduced resources. It is therefore important that the strategy clarify how the Police will continue to sustain close, face-to-face links with local bodies going forward. Finally, while we welcome an investment in the use of information and technology, this combined with a changing public contact and engagement model must not be seen as a replacement for our local officers and the important role they perform across our communities. We would seek reassurance that the removal of geographical boundaries brought about by technological advances will not result in a removal of local policing staff in favour of faceless centralised specialised units.

Performance

4. The Policing 2026 Strategy states that public confidence will be a key measure of success and the effectiveness of Police performance. Do you agree with this approach?

We would welcome any views you have
Aberdeenshire Council agrees that public trust and confidence is vital to successful policing and it should be one important measure of the success of Police performance. Using public confidence as a metric might also have the positive effect of continuing to encourage Police staff to accountability and good public engagement. However, we would caution against equating trust with satisfaction, or taking either of them as absolute measures of success. Aberdeenshire Council’s quarterly Citizens’ Panel survey gathers the views of approximately 1,250 residents on various topics, including their satisfaction with public services. The latest surveys show a decline in the satisfaction reported by residents with Police Scotland: In the 44th edition (published in April 2016) respondents reported a net satisfaction of +53%, down from +55% in 2015 and well below the figures achieved historically, like the +70% net satisfaction recorded for the former Grampian Police in 2013 and +68% recorded in 2012. Dissatisfaction with Police Scotland in the 2016 survey was most commonly associated with issues related to quality of outcomes (47%); issues related to policy decisions and consultation about decisions (23%) and staff attitudes (10%). Trust, confidence or satisfaction are therefore more useful when combined with qualitative data, which helps to address weaknesses and understand communities better. Quantitative satisfaction rates, even taken over a long period of time, can be inherently subjective. They are not always tied to objective performance (as per the “performance paradox”) but combined with people’s expectations, perceptions and socio-economic factors. Aberdeenshire Council encourages Police Scotland to maintain traditional performance measures, as stated in the draft Strategy, which can be used to positively inform the public’s perception, trust and satisfaction. We would as indicated expect to continue to receive Performance Reports from Police Scotland on a regular basis, with these reports being given context by Local Policing Commanders, based on local policing priorities. As part of this, regular reporting on how the Policing 2026 Strategy is impacting on local services would enhance our understanding of the progress made.

Workforce

5. The Policing 2026 strategy highlights that we will need to re-shape our organisation with a workforce focussed on having the right skills and capacity to meet future challenges. Do you agree with this approach?

We would welcome any views you have.
Aberdeenshire Council recognise the financial pressures faced by the public sector which make efficiency and minimising duplication an important consideration. We broadly agree with the approach outlined in the Strategy for simplifying the workforce structure and functions. However, as previously referred to, we do not support the further centralisation of staff if this reduces the numbers available to police our local communities. It will be important to maintain high standards of training to improve officers’ skills role and to prepare them for growing issues such as cybercrime (mentioned in the Strategy). Evaluating the staff’s skills needs and listening to their requests will make it easier to tailor training and support to give them greater value and confidence.

Clear & Understandable

6. Is the strategy presented in a clear and understandable way?

We would welcome any views you have.
... at 60 pages the document is very long, and consists mostly of broad statements rather than concrete actions

Other views

7. We would welcome any additional views you have on our strategy and how it will affect you, or any other person.

We would welcome any views you have.
In terms of visual presentation, the Strategy’s design is attractive and professional. The content is well spaced and the graphics make the document more reader-friendly. However, at 60 pages the document is very long, and consists mostly of broad statements rather than concrete actions. It does not indicate how this strategy will impact on the autonomy of Local Policing Commanders at all levels to work with partners for the benefit of North East Communities. We would expect to see in the Local Policing Plans that follow, a clear link from the national priorities of the Policing 2026 Strategy to the Local Policing priorities and a clear link to the needs of our local communities. This will help to ensure your commitment to include listening more and responding to the diverse needs of communities is met. As a minor point, we question the need to highlight Romania as a focal point of cyber-crime activity in page 46. This could potentially be perceived as stigmatisation. Since the document does not present factual evidence of cyber-crime rates globally, it would be best to avoid a mention of any particular country.

About you

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Aberdeenshire Council