Evidence Cafe 7: Demand Management (Hertfordshire Constabulary)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - 13:00 to 16:00

This was a very successful Evidence Cafe with 30 participants drawn from officers and staff from Hertfordshire Constabulary. Building on our experiences from the Humberside Evidence Cafe in Demand Management, we adapted the event to incorporate Quoc Vo's work with the Q-Board sort method as a collaborative reflective activity, as this had been so successful at engaging the cafe participants. Once people had arrived and got their coffee, Gill began with a 5 minute introduction to the Centre for Policing Research and Learning, outlining the three themes of Research, Learning and Knowledge Exchange that underpin the work of the Centre, placing this Evidence Café in the context of Knowledge Exchange.

Capacity and Demand Management 

Paul then presented cutting-edge research into capacity and demand management in the public sector, focusing on some key questions:

  • Is demand the only problem?
  • What are the important differences between public and private services when they manage demand?
  • What difference does the timing of resource make to work backlog?
  • What are the hidden dangers of prioritization?
  • What demand don’t we want?

This lead into group discussion exploring similarities and differences, connecting practice and academic research. We used MeetingSphere to capture the responses from the participants. These were displayed on the screen for discussion with the whole room.

Failure Demand as an opportunity 

Paul introduced the concept of failure demand categorisation, presenting a perspective of the types of demand faced by police forces that might be reduced or eliminated. This lead into a group activity using the Q-Board, categorising demand and examples.

This activity was developed by DS Quoc Vo during his time as a Police Research Fellow at the OU working with Jean Hartley.  The purpose of The Q-Board is to investigate what people view as the priorities for policing.  The game has been designed to reflect the reality of limited resources, where participants are forced to make decisions about what aspects of policing is more valuable and which is less valuable to them personally.

For this activity participants broke out into two groups, each with a Q-Board. The activity triggered much discussion and reflective thought which fed into a whole-group activity in which we explored the similarities and the differences between their demand prioritisation choices.

What can be done?

Paul drew together the outputs from the different activities and highlights some of the main ways that demand can be reduced. Officers and staff were enthusiastic about the ways in which this perspective of demand as largely 'failure demand' and of demand management being more closely aligned to capacity management. One participant said 'This has transformed the way I think about demand'.