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Chief: Re-organisation Has Delivered Efficiencies

Innovative structures means high public expectations in Hertfordshire Police continue to be met

A combination of innovative management and team structures is continuing to ensure a force’s rate of solving crime and maintaining public confidence has been sustained in the wake of cuts, according to its chief constable.

In an interview with PoliceOracle.com, Hertfordshire Chief Constable Andy Bliss said that a new focus on collaborative working and delivering efficiencies had ensured that public confidence in the force had been maintained in a time of austerity.

The latest HMIC Report Card findings show Hertfordshire Constabulary had achieved some of the highest levels of confidence satisfaction in England and Wales, with the inspectorate providing an "excellent" grading for these categories.

CC Bliss highlighted that he had built on the legacy left by predecessor Frank Whiteley and had increasingly used partnership working as a means of improving efficiencies.

For example, he highlighted that the integrated offender management team was well established, with officers and Hertfordshire Probation staff now focused on targeting the top 200 prolific offenders in the county to drive down re-offending rates.

The development of TORCH (Tracking of Offenders to Reduce Crime in Hertfordshire) by the partnership allows officers to follow the exact movements of an offender day and night thanks to an electronic tag with a built in GPS tracker.

The technology, which has been in place for a year, not only accelerates crime investigations – it also acts as a deterrent. It has resulted in a 41 per cent drop in the re-offending rates of the most prolific criminals, the force claims.

CC Bliss said he was proud of how the force delivered its ethos of tackling crime and protecting the public.

He added: “It is a passion we have here – we have got a very strong crime fighting focus and detecting capability in terms of investigations and proactive operations.

“We have got very good building blocks. There is a structure that delivers day-to-day crime fighting and we are building up the integrated offender management team and using the GPS tracking system – a fantastic piece of technology which helps us to focus our resources and officers.”

The chief constable said his force was also one of the first in the country to deploy more officers to reports of crime instead of dealing with incidents over the phone.

When CC Bliss took the helm 18 months ago, the force’s attendance rate to crime was 50 per cent against a backdrop of strong reduction and detection rates on gun and knife crime as well as serious sexual offences.

The attendance rate has subsequently increased to almost 70 per cent.

The programme of collaboration with neighbouring force Bedfordshire, which started in 2009 has helped the force maintain its front line, operational element and has contributed towards the force’s ambition of delivering £20 million of savings a year by 2015.

There are plans for future collaboration with Bedfordshire as well as Cambridgeshire in the coming months to help deliver £40million of savings by 2016/17.

CC Bliss said: “My professional view was when crime was falling significantly and falling fast, then we need to boost the number of officers out in the community.

“It gives us more witnesses, it builds good relationships and it helps us to identify forensic opportunities to detect crime.

“Our officers really like this approach and it is all part of our ethos.”

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