Police risk register analysis

Managing risks effectively, efficiently and proportionately.

It is against a backdrop of continued funding pressures, changes in levels and types of crime, an increased national profile for crime and policing, coupled with greater emphasis on enhanced collaboration within the emergency services sector, that we have undertaken a further analysis of police strategic risk registers.

We are often asked for comparative data to enable police and crime commissioners (PCCs) and police forces to consider:

  • how do our risks compare? and
  • are we missing any significant risks?

This document provides information to help forces, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioners (OPCCs) and audit committees to review and challenge their own risk profiles and to help with ongoing risk identification and horizon scanning. It provides the outcomes of our analysis of police risk registers and highlights key risk changes within the sector over the last two years (when RSM last undertook this analysis).

The policing sector currently faces a number of challenges, including:

  • reductions in police officer numbers at a time when the service is faced with funding reductions and new challenges, yet the demand on each force is not reducing in the same way;
  • digital or ‘cyber’ crime is growing, with increasingly sophisticated criminals in operation, while the police IT infrastructure is ageing;
  • a new legislative requirement is due to be introduced, which places a statutory duty on the police to consider all collaborative opportunities that hold efficiency or effectiveness benefits; and
  • increasing public expectations of the police service including enhancing the service provided to victims of crime.

Given the nature of policing when things go wrong there can be serious consequences, which may threaten life or pose a threat to officer or public safety. Unfortunately, even the best risk management can never negate the potential for a risk to materialise. However, ensuring risk is understood and managed effectively, efficiently and proportionately can, and does help. We encourage OPCCs and forces to consider their own understanding of the current risks they are facing and how they are managing these.

This document identifies a number of areas for improvement in risk management and internal control, acting as a useful sense check for police forces and OPCCs to utilise when considering their risks; an activity that is particularly beneficial during times of change.

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