This article is aimed at Police Forces, PCCs and other organisations currently thinking about how to implement the new Two-Tier framework.
Changes to the Out of Court Disposals (OOCD) framework, while the right thing to do, will have a stark impact on front line policing. The magnitude is recognised in the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act:
“There is a significant additional admin burden on front line policing, namely:
- Determining eligibility for OOCDs
- Assessing individual need
- Matching need to a service provision
- Monitoring compliance
- Supporting users through reminders
- Dealing with breaches.”
Unfortunately the Act also goes on to acknowledge that:
“There is no additional resource in the form of officers or staff to manage these processes.”
If implemented successfully the change could have significant impact on reoffending, improve victim engagement as well as increase trust and confidence in policing. This is all well and good but how are police forces expected to cope with the extra work?
Whether your force is already two-tier, the intent behind the new legislation changes the way you are required to work. Your officers will be expected to understand the root cause of the offence and link the user to relevant local services.
“So Sonny, you nicked that Mars Bar, why”. Are you hungry because you don’t have a job? Did you want to sell it to support a drug habit, or was it just for s**ts and giggles. These varying root causes require different interventions.
When planning about your own force’s strategy, you need to consider
People – Who within your organisation is going to do all the extra tasks listed above? We assume front line officers aren’t queuing up to find extra tasks. We are speaking to forces who are deliberating between a front line approach or a central team approach. Our strong recommendation is to create a dedicated team within your force that is trained to deal with the root causes of crime and engagement with offenders.
Process – If managed poorly, the referrals and follow-up will consume vast amounts of time, meaning officers will not implement effective referral programmes. You need a process that makes referrals easier for officers so they can see when conditions have been met.
Partners – Do you have a supply chain of local partners ready to support you? If done effectively, this is a fantastic opportunity to engage with the local community. Get those vocal critics to become part of the solution. Spread the load around the community. Involve the third sectors that are willing to support wherever they can. Many forces we speak to are implementing online courses as a diversion. We feel this is insufficient and not in the spirit of the new legislation. Digital solutions have a part to play within a wider suite of interventions, not just stand alone. Completing an online course will be more effective if the person has a mentor to discuss the implications of it afterwards.
Performance – Forces express legitimate concerns about the burden this brings to officers, especially around dealing with the breach rate, which is expected to be significant. It is important that you understand whether partners are delivering on time and avoiding breach numbers crippling front line staff. Beyond just breaches, you need to implement a mechanism to understand whether the interventions you are using are well received by users and ultimately they are actually having an impact on reducing reoffending.
We believe that finding and addressing the root cause of offending is the right approach, but it is a significant shift for already overworked and under pressure officers. If you are still exploring options and would like to discuss how we can support you, please get in touch email@example.com.