Part 5: Monitoring against performance targets

New Zealand Police: Dealing with dwelling burglary - follow-up audit.

In this Part, we describe:

  • our findings in 2001 in relation to the Police’s measuring and monitoring of their performance relating to dwelling burglary; and
  • our findings in 2005.

Monitoring against performance targets in 2001

We concluded in our 2001 audit that the Police had started establishing performance measures, but there were few targets addressing how the Police operate.

The Police had embraced business planning, but there was a weakness in the translation of overall goals into operational business plans.

Our findings in 2005

There is now strong alignment between the Police’s strategic direction and the operational planning used at District and Area levels. There is greater accountability and urgency for reaching performance targets than there was in 2001.

Police business planning

We examined Police business planning documents. We looked at how the objectives and outcomes of the Statement of Intent are translated into operational plans, at both District and Area levels.

Police national strategic priorities, business planning in the Districts, and operational planning at the Area level are all tightly aligned. Figure 8 shows the planning links in the 4 case study Areas and Districts we examined. Although there was some variation in the terminology or processes used in each of the 4 Districts, the translation of Police strategic goals into operational business plans was broadly similar.

Figure 8
Police business planning, from national strategy to operational Area plans

The national strategy flows into District Business Plans, and then into operational Area Plans.

Figure 8.

At the District level, District Business Plans and their performance targets are closely aligned to the targets and intended outcomes contained in the Statement of Intent, but with some modification to reflect the prioritisation of specific crime issues or characteristics in each District.

At the more operational Area level (covering frontline policing), in the case studies we examined, the focus is on using practical Action Plans or their equivalents.14 The operational plans set out the implementation of strategies by each responsible Area, and identify specific measurable milestones. Police management are acknowledging that all Police staff do not need to be familiar with all the detail of strategic plans, but they do need to know about the operational elements and targets that affect them. In our view, this is an effective way to translate overall strategic goals into operational tasks.

All case study Districts and Areas we examined had burglary reduction action plans or strategies.15 These plans tended to:

  • specify key milestones or tasks to be achieved (for example, targeting “hot” burglary offenders or locations);
  • allocate responsibility for achieving specific milestones and tasks to specific staff or roles (e.g. Area Commanders, intelligence units);
  • include performance measures covering how the action plan will be achieved; and
  • set out intended outcomes (for example, a reduction in the number of recorded burglary offences).

Monitoring performance at District and Area level

In the case study Areas and Districts we looked at, the Districts were imposing greater accountability and urgency on Police personnel for meeting strategic and operational targets, including the overarching goals of crime and crash reduction, and enhancing community safety.

The performance agreements of District Commanders are directly linked to the results of the District Performance Reviews conducted twice yearly by the Office of the Commissioner. The reviews are part of a wider shift by the Police, evident since our 2001 report, to move towards a performance framework. As we noted in Part 3, these reviews analyse a District’s performance against agreed performance targets, are non-prescriptive, and identify strengths and opportunities for improvement.

The District Performance Review starts with an individual performance agreement negotiated between each District Commander and either the Police Commissioner or one of the 2 Deputy Commissioners. The performance agreements incorporate the measures and targets contained in the Statement of Intent. We note that the Police have recently moved towards a more collaborative setting of performance targets. District Commanders, as members of the Police Executive, are now more involved in agreeing performance targets.

The review involves a visit to a District by Organisational Performance Group staff, and seconded analysts from different sections of the Police. Overall performance of the District is assessed, using interviews and analysis of monthly and weekly District performance statistics. Districts are given an opportunity to list their strengths and challenges. A draft performance review report is then prepared and sent back to the District for consultation. A final report is tabled at a District Management Meeting, with the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner highlighting key issues. The Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner then privately undertakes a performance appraisal of the District Commander, based on the results of the District Performance Review.

The District Performance Reviews for the Canterbury, Counties-Manukau, Waikato, and Wellington Districts are detailed and robust appraisals. Each review contains a broad performance appraisal, assessing not only District performance against crime targets, but also wider organisational performance issues. These include human resources indicators and the results of public satisfaction surveys. In our view, linking District Commanders’ performance agreements to the results of the reviews is an effective way to promote greater accountability against performance. District Commanders we interviewed echoed this opinion, with increased accountability and urgency to improve overall performance in their Districts commonly cited as outcomes of the review process.

Accountability for performance

Overall, the accountability requirements for performance are significantly higher than they were in 2001. District Commanders are now more accountable for the performance results of their Districts, and they seek accountability for performance from Area Commanders. In the Districts and Areas we examined, there is at least monthly, if not weekly, monitoring of crime statistics against targets. Because of this, Police staff at the Area level are more regularly aware of levels of offending. This allows greater targeting of resources and response to risk, especially when it is incorporated with analysis by the intelligence units.

The case study Districts use various forms of “tactical tasking meetings”. Some tactical tasking meetings involve regular meetings between Area Commanders and the District Commander. For example, one of the Districts we visited uses a system of performance reports. Area Commanders are sent out a performance report template ahead of the monthly meeting with the District Commander. These reports detail specific crime issues in an Area, and require the Area Commander to formally report on what action they have taken to address the factors contributing to crime, including what the results have been.

In another District, Area Commanders and senior District management meet weekly with the District Commander. These crime co-ordination meetings assign ownership of specific factors contributing to crime to various Police personnel. The personnel are then held accountable, by the District Commander, for reporting the actions taken to address them. These forms of tactical tasking meetings appear to be rigorous methods for raising both accountability and urgency for addressing identified factors contributing to crime.

Tactical tasking meetings are used in some Areas, with officers in charge of individual Police Stations also formally reporting on performance, and being held accountable by the Area Commander.

Coding of burglary offences for performance monitoring

To enable useful comparisons across all Police Districts and Areas, coding of crimes has to be consistent. In the case of burglary, the legal definition has changed since our 2001 audit. The Crimes Amendment Act 2003 widened the definition of burglary by removing the need for breaking to have occurred in association with unlawful entry. Because of this, some offences that would previously have been defined as thefts are now recorded as burglaries. The change in the legal definition of burglary has created some coding difficulties for Police. For example, there is some uncertainty in the case of multi-level buildings with different tenants, whether incidents should be coded as one burglary, multiple burglaries, or theft.

Different interpretations of the legal definition of burglary, and when to apply it, may be creating offence coding inconsistencies between different Districts, and even Areas. Some of the Districts we visited are trying to address this issue by writing their own guidelines for coding crimes such as burglary and theft. However, to ensure consistency, national guidelines need to be followed by all Districts. We were told that national coding guidelines do exist, but need updating and improving.

We note that independent research commissioned by the Police in 2004 suggests that the effect of the Crimes Amendment Act 2003 on the coding of burglary statistics may be minimal. The research found that less than 1% of examined burglary offences were incorrectly coded as other offence types. However, we found a perception from our interviews with some officers that miscoding is a significant issue.

Recommendation 5
We recommend that the New Zealand Police update and maintain formal national guidelines for coding different crimes, to ensure consistency of reporting across all Districts.

14: The terminology used across Districts for these operational documents varied. They were called “Area Plans” in a couple of the Districts, and “District Strategies” or “District Action Points” in the others. However, the purpose of the documents was similar.

15: Canterbury and Wellington Districts have burglary-specific reduction plans. The other 2 Districts combine burglary with other high incidence crimes (because of similar issues concerned with their policing). The Counties-Manukau District has a burglary and vehicle crime reduction strategy, and the Waikato District has a high incidence crime reduction action plan covering burglary, violence, and vehicle crime.

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