Beating the budget cuts at West Yorkshire Police

Beating the budget cuts at West Yorkshire Police

This week sees the Chancellor’s latest Spending Review, with public-sector employers set for more budget cuts. Cath Everett finds out how one police force has used technology to manage redeployment and reduce the number of compulsory redundancies.

With yet more austerity-related funding cuts in the offing, public-sector organisations are constantly on the lookout for fresh ways to reduce their expenditure.

The police are no exception, not least because the Chancellor George Osborne is reported to be considering budget cuts to forces of up to 20% in this week’s Spending Review.

Leaders need to look at innovative ways of coping with these changes and achieving more with less.” Danny Wilks, West Yorkshire Police

However, the cutbacks first started making themselves felt as early as 2010. In a bid to deal with the challenge, West Yorkshire Police (WYP), the fourth largest force in England and Wales, introduced a number of organisational change projects, which resulted in high numbers of support staff being informed they were at risk of redundancy.

To make it easier for them to find potential new positions within the organisation and ensure that the most experienced and valued staff were retained, West Yorkshire added a redeployment module to its existing e-recruitment offering from software company WCN.

The vendor estimates that redeployment can lead to cost savings of up to £30,000 for every position filled.

West Yorkshire had first introduced the e-recruitment system in 2006 in order to replace its original paper-based hiring procedures.

Improved experience

The aim at the time was to help the force hire 350 police community support officers in the space of only nine months using new national recruitment processes, while also cutting costs and improving the candidate experience.

Implementing the redeployment module in 2010 likewise involved replacing paper-based procedures and, says West Yorkshire’s resourcing manager Danny Wilks, this meant that internal candidates can now enjoy “the same benefits and improvements to the application process that has been enjoyed by external candidates”.

As a result of the move,“WYP have been very successful in supporting people to find suitable alternative roles and, despite a lengthy period of austerity, only a small number of people have been made compulsorily redundant. Given that the workforce has reduced by almost 800 since 2010, this is a success.”

The total number of police support staff at that time had been 3,539 but expected forthcoming budget cuts mean “we will continue to see the workforce shrink even further”, says Wilks.

To try and meet the challenge, the organisation is currently reviewing all of its support functions based on “lean” principles, an approach often used by manufacturing companies to improve efficiency.

“A re-engineering of recruitment and selection processes has involved a gap analysis between the current e-recruitment provision and where we need to be,” explains Wilks. To fill such gaps, the goal is to integrate recruitment and selection systems and procedures with other WYP IT systems.

Because, as Wilks concludes: “It is a fact of life that as budgets become tight, we expect more work from fewer staff. This in itself brings added pressures to staff, and leaders need to look at innovative ways of coping with these changes and achieving more with less.”

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