Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, in his annual review of the Northern Ireland Policing Board’s Best Value Performance Plan reported that this year’s Plan meets the statutory requirements and that the quality of the Plan, its performance information and its performance monitoring show a year on year improvement. Sir John has also reviewed the Police Service’s Information Systems strategy, one of a number of initiatives that the Police Service have in progress to assist them in achieving their long-term objectives and warns that its implementation will be challenging.
The NAO report finds that both the Police Service and the Policing Board can do more to embed Best Value in their respective organizations and improve how they present to the public what they do and achieve. In particular, the Plan could have more narrative description of what improvements have been made.
The performance indicators and standards are reasonable and better than last year. However, the NAO recommends that the Policing Board should consider including indicators currently absent, such as the number of people killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions. Sir John confirms that the Police Service and Policing Board have appropriate systems to produce performance information but cautions against the use of snapshot surveys which can reflect short-term distortions due to the impact of events just prior to the time of the survey.
The Information Systems strategy which includes an array of individual IT projects is expected to run until at least 2008 and cost £65 million. The successful implementation of the strategy should assist the Police Service in achieving their objectives of effectiveness, efficiency and economy. Senior management support of the strategy is strong and progress is encouraging. Delivering it on time and to an adequate standard will be challenging and the report makes recommendations to strengthen the management of the programme.