FMS Demand: ongoing need for efficacy in forecasting

EMPAC’s focus on understanding demand is jointly led by Superintendent Mark Housley (Lincolnshire Police), Dr Rowena Hill (Nottingham Trent University), Strategic Analysis Manager Kate Hemstock (Derbyshire Constabulary) and Professor Peter Kawalek (Loughborough University).

This thematic forum brings together representatives across the whole region to work together, share challenges, best practice and learning, in order to ensure the very best data approaches and insights inform policing services.

The vision for this practitioner and academic collaborative work is to help produce high quality, relevant and accurate demand information to embed Force Management Statements as ‘business as usual’ to inform policing decision-making and preparedness.

Latest thinking

The regional FMS forum, comprising representatives from each of the five East Midlands forces,  met on Monday 8th March 2021 – and the key points raised were:-

  • Progress on FMS 2021 – most forces are working on FMS preparations currently. There was discussion about how the timing of the FMS is being aligned to wider strategic planning for some, and how FMS and strategic assessment can be aligned more closely, with the potential for one document to meet both requirements.
  • One of the shared professional challenges was the future forecasting of demand, with a mixture of approaches being taken.  Some are using data forecasts alongside other information to add context; some are exploring at scenario forecasting for known / anticipated changes.  Covid-19 has affected the baseline data and there have been various attempts to contextualise this within data forecasts.
  • Latent demand is a further ongoing challenge – to better understand internal processes and the demand these create; to supplement ongoing work on understand external (public) demand on the police service.
  • Opportunities to enhance police organisational data literacy were discussed, to enhance dashboards and self-service information without causing increasing subjective interpretation.
  • The importance of policing resilience and preparedness was identified as a strategic intention of the forecasting process, because forecasting could never be totally accurate and was more a matter of rational probabilities.
  • There was reflection on balancing the ‘need to do’ and the ‘need to think’.  As a practitioner group, the primary focus was clarified as ‘doing’  – i.e. the sharing of best practice and lessons learned to help each other to produce a ‘good’ FMS that drives continuous improvement and improves service delivery to the public.  The need also to facilitate critical thinking about FMS could be enabled by a  practitioner focus to demonstrate and explore different techniques to help more peer reviewed joint reflection.

What’s next?

The ongoing priority for the FMS regional group is to continue to focus on the practicalities of using methods and techniques to understand demand – and sharing these, as peers, for accelerated joint learning between the group members.

In the future, thematic ‘deep dives’ would enable forces to jointly compare and test the efficacy of data techniques and methods. The initial deep dive would reflect the previous identified challenges and address forecasting.  Other thematic topics will include exploring the alignment of FMS and strategic assessments to reduce duplication.

The next regional forum will be in May 2021 (date to be finalised – will be published on the EMPAC web).

Get involved

You can catch up on previous updates and access reports from this workstream here:

If you would like to get involved in this ongoing important work please get in touch with our thematic leads at:

Superintendent Mark Housley

Dr Rowena Hill

Kate Hemstock

Professor Peter Kawalek


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