Police forces, like hospitals, achieve widely differing levels of performance. Until now there has been no way to group the various measures together to present a balanced scorecard. Neither has it been possible to set common efficiency targets for all forces, recognising those that perform best and are most efficient. A report by the Treasury’s Public Services Productivity Panel claims to have solved this problem. The author of the report, Clare Spottiswoode, Associate Partner at PA Consulting, demonstrates how the use of two efficiency-measuring techniques – Stochastic Frontier Analysis and Data Envelopment Analysis on a small number of Best Value outcome measures can produce an overall efficiency measure.The technique allows the relative efficiency of each police force to be assessed. It is then becomes possible to rank forces into bands of relative efficiency, with forces in the lower bands being asked to make up about half of the gap between themselves and the top performing forces. Top forces would be given comparatively smaller targets. This approach can be readily integrated into the Best Value regime with the new efficiency targets being incorporated into Performance Plans.
Before any decision is taken to adopt these techniques, they will be piloted and then subjected to a thorough evaluation in consultation with the Association of Police Authorities and the Association of Chief Police Officers. If the pilots prove successful the techniques will be rolled out in to all forces in mid-2001.
This approach to measuring efficiency has wide potential application across the public sector.