Thursday, 10 January 2013

Groundhog Day?

Nineteen or so years ago, the previous Conservative administration passed the Police and Magistrates’ Courts Act 1994 which introduced the now defunct police authorities and brought in the idea of Annual Policing Plans. In May 1995, I began my twelve years with the Office for Public Management.

One of the first ideas I had was to convene a series of workshops in the autumn with police authority members, police staff and police officers, involved in the process, to reflect upon the first year of policing plans and think about the next.

I produced a briefing paper based on the four workshops: Fitting Aspirations with Reality: Developing more effective annual policing plans which OPM have kindly agreed to allow me to republish. I thought their might be some lessons in there which are still valid...

I have uploaded a scanned pdf to my google drive and you can access it here (not least for the list of people who came along - many of whom are still around in the policing world...)

The key points to emerge were:
  • the most important ingredient for successful annual policing plans is the development of a close partnership between chief constable and police authorities
  • the best plans are those which 'spring off the glossy page' and turn into carefully integrated organisation development initiatives. Good plans encompass issues such as internal and external two-way communication, performance management and structural redesign
  • much controversy and confusion surround the allocation of resources in support of, and made explicit within, annual policing plans. It is likely that resolving this matter will greatly help the progressive development of these plans.

So much has changed since then...(?)

The section headings include:
  • The costing of policing plans
  • Involving key stakeholders successfully
  • Avoiding the hazards (and developing good practice) in public service planning
I won't summarise the whole document (do please read it), but here are the ingredients for successful public service planning drawn from the discussions at the workshops:
  • Clarify the purpose
  • Build in flexibility
  • Set realistic targets
  • Develop stakeholder 'ownership'
  • Connect the plan to the 'real world'
  • Be bold
These points and many more are expanded on the document linked to this blog post.

What do you think? Have we moved on much in the last 17+ years?