“The Board should implement swiftly an action plan in response to the Independent Assessment Report”

With the new members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board taking their seats, UTV notes the NI Audit Office’s report to the NI Assembly on “Continuous improvement arrangements in the Northern Ireland Policing Board”.  From the UTV report

The report into the Policing Board claims the board’s approach to evaluations needs to be reviewed and the assessment of police performance should be a mix of quantitative and qualitative indicators.

Mr Donnelly claimed the focus should be on service quality rather than specific statistics, such as arrest rates or officer redeployments.

He stated that while quantitative targets have their place as a measure of performance, “national developments in policing signal a greater emphasis on qualitative targets”.

The report also found there was “little evidence” within the Policing Board’s plan of benchmark performance targets against other police services in the UK or internationally, however the objectives which had been set were within clear deadlines.

Mr Donnelly highlighted concerns over the consistency of data validation for each performance target, claiming it was inconsistent and presented a risk of inaccurate reporting.

The BBC report highlights the apparent failure of the NI Policing Board to respond to their own commissioned Independent Review, which was leaked in November 2010.

From the NIAO press release

Main Findings

On the performance plan 2010-11 and the performance summary for 2009-10:

• The Board has put in place 16 performance targets for 2010-11 outlined in the performance plan. The targets are reasonable, for example to increase the number of police officers assigned to front line roles by 600, and have clear deadlines for achievement.
• The Board’s assessment of its own and the Chief Constable’s performance in 2009-10 is reasonable, and includes clear detail on the outturn against each performance target.
• There is a continued focus upon quantitative targets. However, latest developments in policing put a greater emphasis on qualitative targets as a measure of performance.
• The validation of data relating to each target is inconsistent. There is consequently a risk of inaccurate reporting of performance.

On the continuous improvement arrangements:

• An independent review of how the Board carries out its functions – the Independent Assessment Report – included some positive findings, but also suggested several areas for improvement:
– the Board has been slow to develop a strategic or corporate vision, effective strategic planning or an ethos of continuous improvement; and
– there is little evidence of a systematic approach to value for money.

Key Recommendations

• The Board should review its approach to assessing police performance. The Policing Plan should contain a mixture of both quantitative and qualitative indicators.
• Data input to information systems used to generate PSNI performance information should be validated.
• The Board should implement swiftly an action plan in response to the Independent Assessment Report.