A digitised, automated approach to police forces recording and managing shifts is needed now more than ever to save money and improve efficiencies, argues Crown Workforce Management’s Rebecca Dutton, as forces juggle between recruiting more police officers whilst trying to maximise value from public money.
Having an efficient duty management system should be the cornerstone of any well-run police force as, without it, there is the risk that staff are not paid correctly, which can instantly have a detrimental impact not only on a force’s financial performance, but also on morale in a workforce that is there to perform a crucial role for wider society.
At Crown Workforce Management, we have decades of experience in helping to provide bespoke automated time and attendance/payroll services to police forces, and we are currently working with 16 forces across the UK to help them accurately pay more than 65,000 employees a month.
In practice Crown’s duty management system (DMS) collects, stores and analyses data in its time and attendance system – and any time that is worked above an employee’s standard hours is passed over to each force’s payroll department on pre-agreed finance codes linked to a particular activity. If an employee has worked less than their standard hours, this is also flagged to a supervisor.
This removes the need for employees to manually input all of this data into a system – saving significant hours of work. The system also provides verified shifts worked, as the digital system record in real time, meaning there can be no dispute over hours worked.
We know from experience that each force has its own interpretation of how to pay its officers and staff for overtime worked – which Crown is able to facilitate by creating a DMS with bespoke payment rules.
Helping forces to understand all of the elements of Crown’s DMS so that they can accurately pay from Crown’s system is something that we as a business pride ourselves on, and is a key way that we build strong relationships with each force.
For example, if a police officer is retained on duty, are they paid at a particular rate? Or if it keeps occurring, are they paid a different rate after a certain amount of overtime shifts? Or if someone works into a rest day are they compensated with a rest day in lieu, or are they paid?
These payment rules play a core role in the close relationship that Crown’s time and attendance system has with various police force payroll departments, so that when a police force’s payroll department receives each employee’s hours for any given month, those payment rules have already been applied.
Such is Crown’s commitment to providing a bespoke service, we work closely with each police force to design, test and implement a duty management system over a 12-to-18-month period.
Police forces are dynamic environments that may see officers working overtime across different operations on any given day – and as such these operations will have different cost codes attached to them to ensure the right part of the organisation is paying for this resource. To do this manually for thousands of people and get it correct would be nearly impossible – as would staying up-to-date with overtime records. Crown's DMS can automatically code and pay overtime based on the hours worked by an employee, the overtime payments are visible to the employee, enabling them to check what pay they will receive and removes the need for overtime submissions.
This forward-thinking, joined-up capability from Crown has been harnessed through our in-depth experience of working with many police forces over the years, and it plays a key role in helping forces to free up employees’ time to concentrate on other pressing matters – and ultimately – providing better value for money from the public purse.
The automated time and attendance system is a culture change for organisations, and in order for it to be effective forces need the buy-in from their finance department, as well as the business, as it will be them who will need to decide and create the necessary cost centres and finance codes for operations, as well as monitoring how much they are spending.
A great example of how Crown helps police forces to boost its operational efficiency is through the work it has done with The Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC), which has seen CNC moving away from a standalone Microsoft Excel application and paper-based approach in favour of a digitised, cross-force platform.
As we are an agile business ourselves, Crown expects the volume and type of demand to flex and, as such, each police force we work with has a quarterly service meeting with a dedicated service delivery manager to address any trends that are emerging in their work patterns, whilst also looking at future priorities.
With police forces continuing to recruit new employees amid a backdrop of increasing scrutiny of how public money is being spent during the cost-of-living crisis, implementing a duty management system is a prudent way of providing long-term value to the public sector.
To help those public sector organisations that are able to adopt a fast procurement process, we are part of the reputable G Cloud 13 framework, which will enable organisations to start using our tailored systems quickly after initially contacting us.