Understanding Demand Roundtable 6th June 2018

As part of the East Midlands Police and Crime Research and Development Plan work https://empac.org.uk/east-midlands-police-crime-research-development/, Lincolnshire Police Superintendent Mark Housley, is hosting a roundtable on Understanding Demand’ between 10 am and noon on Wednesday, 6th June 2018 at Lincolnshire Police HQ. This is an important topic for the Police and one where there is rigorous inspection by HMICFRS. It’s vital policing gets this area as good as it can be; and drawing on all forms of insight and expertise to innovate and improve professional practice is what EMPAC is all about!

The approach here is to try and think about understanding demand differently – from at least three perspectives; from the police, from collaborative partners and from academic researchers. See more at the end of this feature for some of the background context of those various positions. We’re looking for the best ideas and insights from everywhere and anywhere to help policing achieve its very best!

Have a look at the content – it’s a roundtable so it’s all about the key questions that are being proposed  so we can ‘problematise’ together – and if you’re interested in this topic and think you can help get in touch for a free place with Mark at mark.housley@lincs.pnn.police.uk.

[STOP PRESS! – by way of a quick post-event update, the EMPAC Roundtable report on ‘Understanding Demand’ was used to inform a NPCC national workshop on Demand on 26/07/18. You can read the Roundtable report by clicking here:- EMPAC understanding demand report final  ]


Demand, capability, capacity – how we understand, manage and predict: a roundtable.

The Questions:

How do we begin to understand the demand being placed on the police service?

What are the drivers and how are these linked to PESTELO?

Has the role of policing grown whilst other services have withdrawn service provision? How do we test and evidence change?

In understanding demand historically are we able to use what we know to predict future demand, taking into account our understanding of PESTELO. Do we believe this knowledge will allow us to better plan to ensure we have the capacity and capability to deliver in the future?

Key areas for consideration:

⦁ Failure Demand – Hidden Demand – Protective and Preventative Demand – Administrative Demand – Public Perception and Expectations – Risk Adverse Cultures – Hierarchical Culture
⦁ Productivity – The role of Policing

To put the roundtable in a local operational context, this is the current draft Vision for the Lincolnshire Police Demand Programme:-

Everything we do, our planning, our funding, how we model our resources, our training and support mechanisms, should all be predicated on current and future demand. Our Vision is to enable, through improve resource management, the force to deliver the PCC and Force Policing Plan – Distinctively Lincolnshire.

We will understand the drivers and causes of Demand. This will include the impact of socio-economic and demographic factors; we will better understand how partner and public behaviour influences the demand on police and how other variants such as Technology, Societal, Environmental, Economic and Legal issues causes change in demand.

We will better understand, challenge and change, Internal and failure demand. We will identify waste created by unnecessary bureaucracy, poor process, poor leadership and damaging cultural issues.

With our new understanding of demand we will be better placed to challenge our capacity and capability, we will understand how our policing model works. We will be able to challenge how and who we recruit; whether our training is fit for purpose, what skills we have in the organisation and whether they are fit for purpose, now and in the future.

We will deliver transformational change, informed by our improved understanding of demand. We will remove wasteful process; we will manage our partners and public more effectively; we will challenge how we work across systems, and working with key internal partners, we will deliver service that excels.


Come to the roundtable and help shape best practice in policing for the East Midlands region and beyond!


Here are some contextual scene-setters for the event, to get you thinking and help you tune into the topic and conversation. 

Chief Constable Steve Finnigan, CBE, QPM, and NPCC national Chair of the Performance Management Coordination Committee, helped produce a report – Better Understanding Demand: Policing the Future (2017).

Below is the Executive Summary; you can access the full report here http://Better Understanding Demand Policing the Future.

The PMCC of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) commissioned a project into better understanding demand on the Police Service. The first part of the project was conducted by the College of Policing and resulted in a report published in January 2015. However, the NPCC felt that there was further work to be completed in order that understanding and awareness of demand could be raised across the service and its partner agencies.

Within this, the NPCC were keen to increase the debate around the demand that is passed to the Police from other parts of the public sector, including the expectations of other agencies and the public.  It was argued that the police needed to define policing demand beyond just calls for service and to better understand the demands presented through our daily management of R/T/H/V.

It was also important to develop a new understanding of the totality of demand on the Police Service that could inform the Police Funding Formula (PFF) review.

The scope of the project was set out in the agreed Terms of Reference and included:

  1. Examine demand beyond recorded crime
  2. Explore sources of demand data and how this can be converted into management information
  3. Consider the impact on demand of collaborative working
  4. Consider demand in the context of ‘whole system thinking’
  5. Identify on-going professional good practice across the service and set up a central repository to avoid duplication of effort
  6. Establish an Independent Advisory Group drawn from various sectors to act as a ‘critical friend’ throughout the project
  7. Link demand to public value in terms of how the services expected and demanded add to public value
  8. Utilise current academic research and wider initiatives to develop demand forecasting models
  9. Explore the relationships between demand, productivity and resourcing
  10. Identify and acknowledge the potential of digital capabilities such as ‘Big Data’
  11. Consider the leadership and management skills required of leaders, managers and supervisors to use demand information as part of their supervision and management practices

The project commenced in May 2015 and established a ‘Demand Reference Group’ of volunteers drawn from across the service with representatives from all forces, non-Home Office forces,  Police and Crime Commissioners Office, HMIC, Home Office, Federation, Superintendents Association, other emergency services,  partners agencies and academia.

The Reference Group established specific work streams to cover topics to consider within and to deliver against the terms of reference. Each of these work streams was led by volunteers from across a number of different forces.

As outputs, the group provided regular update reports to the PMCC and delivered National conferences/workshops which not only raised awareness of demand but also encouraged debate across the service as well as disseminate good practice.

The collective work of the Reference Group work streams was then collated into the production of this guidance, referred to as, ‘Better Understanding Demand – Policing the Future.’

The main findings and recommendations are detailed further within the document but can be summarised as:

  • Demand on the police service goes far beyond ‘calls for service’ and can be categorised into three kinds of demand – ‘Public Demand’  ‘Protective Demand’ and ‘Internal Demand’ – however, the approach to these is inconsistent across UK policing
  • The work of the Police Service cannot be viewed in isolation but is part of the wider system of Public, Private and Voluntary Sectors working together as a whole to deliver public safety
  • The levels of demand and need in force areas should inform funding levels
  • The role and scope of the Police Service has expanded considerably over the years and is partly as a result of reduced funding in other parts of the public sector
  • Predicting demand is complex and to be achieved requires an investment in technology to collate data and external assistance to analyse and translate that data into a usable form

The main recommendations arising from the work of the groups are:

  • The Peelian Principles of policing are still valid but if demand on the Police Service is to be better managed there needs to be more emphasis on prevention and early intervention rather than reaction. This would include increased collaborative working to alleviate vulnerability
  • Tools and techniques such as THRIVE and MoRiLE should be adopted across the service
  • There should be more emphasis across the service and the public sector on collaborative working and on ‘Whole System’ thinking
  • There should be a reconsideration of the role and scope of the services that the Police Service provides
  • There should be more investment in research and use of Big Data solutions
  • There should be a better understanding on the part of the Police Service of techniques such as Systems Thinking, Value Streaming, Lean Manufacturing and Process Mapping so as to improve the efficiency of internal processes in order to reduce internal demand and improve productivity
  • There should be further work commissioned by the NPCC to consider investment in systems and partnerships to gather demand management information and to develop analytics to better predict future demand
  • Police Service funding should be linked to the totality of demand on the service


Professor Ken Pease, University College London, here makes the case to improve prevention and break out of the crisis of response, through three assertions.  

You don’t drain the swamp while fighting off the alligators.

The trouble with that way of thinking is that it condemns you to fight off ever-growing numbers of alligators for ever, because the alligators are breeding. In the middle and long term, as is also the case with health, the only way to reduce the alligator population is to drain the swamp now. (British Medical Journal readers voted sewers as the most important medical advance of the previous century, over antibiotics and anaesthetics.) Investment in prevention now will reap benefits, sadly beyond the time horizon of the next election, which seems the horizon of political vision. The current trend is in the opposite direction. For example the number of crime prevention design advisors is now roughly one third of what it was fifteen years ago, and security requirements for new homes is sacrificed on the altars of affordability, although Rachel Armitage has estimated adequate security pays for itself in around three years in reduced crime.  Now, when the crime landscape is becoming more complex, primarily through cyber-enabled criminality, the scope for innovative preventive is especially necessary. So

Assertion 1. To avoid a vicious spiral, investment in prevention is most necessary now at the time when it is most difficult.

Economics is sometimes known as the science of scarcity. It looks at demand and supply and how they interact to yield a ‘fair price’ for a good or service. The current furore in policing is almost exclusively about demand.  ‘Management of demand’ is a weaselly phrase. It means reductions in service to the public. Look at the literature from CoP and Chiefs’ Council and it is all about demand regulation. There is advantage in standing back and looking at the issue through a normative economics lens, with concepts of opportunity cost and techniques like revealed preference estimation. This is emphatically not an argument for a lengthy retreat into academe, but a recasting of the debate in terms of supply and demand. Thinking of demand on its own is a dangerous road to go down, inviting public disillusionment which is already evident in phenomena like the reducing resort to the police in repeat victims.

Assertion 2. Step back and think of supply alongside demands to determine opportunity costs of different resource balances.

There are some no-brainers which should be done even if resources were plentiful. The first is the usage of what the military theorist Sun Tzu called force multipliers. These include predictive patrolling, nudge projects and the like. Kevin Weir and Lee Gosling of Durham Police and Jason Roach of Huddersfield University are doing great work along these lines now. My own incredulity is about how many officers are taken off the street and to be found seeking places of safety or in A&E departments. I was recently left slack jawed by being with a crew in A&E overnight. The whole shift was spent there and another crew was there half the night. In total, the patrolling strength in that part of the city was reduced by one third. This is grotesque (and also illustrates the importance of thinking about opportunity cost). A final personal beef is the grotesquely protracted misconduct hearing, taking officers away often for many months. If cleared, many return demotivated and ‘poison the well’ in that colleagues seeing the experience of those suspended and policing less vigorously. The only estimate of suspensions I can find comes from the Daily Mail, so I don’t believe it. For what it’s worth, it estimated 13% of all policing strength is suspended at any one time.

Assertion 3. Try to address the self-evident nonsense..






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