College of Policing innovation sharing network
Rebecca Teers is the Research Evidence Partnerships Manager at the College of Policing, and member of the N8 PRP Steering Group, describes a new initiative recently launched by the College.
What is the College of Policing’s innovation sharing pilot?
The College of Policing’s new pilot aims to speed up the sharing of local innovation across policing. Faced with changing demands and challenges, particularly in terms of technological developments, it is vital that police forces are able to try out new ideas and different ways of working. The innovation sharing network, funded by the Police Transformation Fund, will support the identification and sharing of local ‘untested’ innovation within and across forces. It will involve a network of innovation brokers within forces who will identify and share innovative practice. This sharing of local innovation at a national level will allow ideas with potential to be formally tested, and feed into the evidence base of what works in policing and crime reduction.
Why has the need for an innovation network been identified as important?
Recent work by the Home Office’s policing review of frontline policing, the College, and National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Police Reform and Transformation Board has highlighted an ‘innovation gap’. Officers and staff are put off sharing ideas because of barriers such as time, worry about risk and not being sure about exactly what to share and how, which leads to missed opportunities and duplication.
Forces and Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) have also identified a need for faster ways to identify and circulate local innovation. A key barrier to the identification and sharing of ideas and new practice is the lack of independent sharing by police officers and staff who are innovating in forces. Officers and staff need encouragement to share their ideas and experience to get knowledge to the right people at the right time.
The proposed network will address this gap, by developing and testing mechanisms to identify and effectively disseminate innovation more quickly.
How has the College started off the work on developing a pilot network?
In March 2019 the College asked senior officers to help identify people in their forces who could support the sharing of local innovation. Some forces already have people in specific ’innovation’ roles, others may consider nominating those with responsibilities in areas such as horizon scanning, evidence-based policing or organisational learning.
The pilot will focus on innovation on specific priorities or current national challenges. The brokers will focus on spotting and sharing good ideas locally, and the College will support them in building connections with people doing similar work in other forces and facilitating quick access to other ideas and examples of innovation. The College pilot will involve collating the information received from forces, determining which ideas and practices are suitable for local and/or national dissemination and how they can best be shared back with force contacts and PCCs as appropriate.
Identifying ideas early will provide opportunities for the College to work with forces to test innovation ideas which have potential national benefits and to provide some evaluation support, which in turn will also help build the policing and crime reduction evidence base.
N8 partner force Lancashire Constabulary already has an innovation strategy that supports the implementation of new ideas from its local communities, staff and partners.
“The National innovation pilot is a very welcome addition to the emerging opportunities for police innovation. One of the challenges in a local force comes with applying the traditional silo approach to problem solving and trying to find solutions to problems that affect the whole of UK policing locally. Sometimes staff can feel they are not listened to, especially when they see some of our challenges on a daily basis. We need to keep finding ways to show our staff how their ideas will be heard and explored to see if they can be implemented. There is a real appetite for police to understand and apply innovative working and a pilot would be a fantastic way to start joining people up to share best practice, work closer and implement new ways that influence how our staff deliver the best policing service to our communities.”
Rob describes a number of local innovative projects currently in progress in Lancashire. “In Lancashire, we have implemented new ways of working in forensic science that has attracted investment and sustainability to a key area of criminal investigation and now helps prepare forensic scientists of the future. We have launched a different approach to using drones operationally that focuses upon the needs of officers and staff on the front line, improving response times and availability of air support. We have found fresh approaches to digital innovation for staff, including new technology, designing new applications or the launch of voice enabled tech for residents. Innovation is about finding new ways to solve the biggest problems we face and they can be identified anywhere – we need to keep exploring and remain inquisitive to new or alternative ways in providing the solutions our staff, communities and partners want our help with.”
For further information on work in Lancashire Constabulary, please contact Rob at Robert.Flanagan2@Lancashire.pnn.police.uk
What happens next?
The College is running an event on 25 April 2019 to understand the ways that forces currently access and share innovation to inform the development of the structures and mechanisms required to facilitate a national system of sharing of innovation examples.
The innovation network will be evaluated to identify its benefits and limitations in supporting the best tactics for sharing local innovation, and development of the evidence base in policing. These findings will be used to inform the future of the approach and help us determine whether more funding to support the network is required.
For further information on the innovation network, or to find out more about the innovation sharing event at Ryton on 25 April, please contact Rebecca Teers Rebecca.Teers@college.pnn.police.uk or Fiona McLean at Fiona.McLean@college.pnn.police.uk