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Posts Tagged ‘Andy Rhodes’

Moving Beyond Enforcement: Early Action Policing

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

This week Deputy Chief Constable Andy Rhodes of the Lancashire Constabulary joined us in London to talk about early action policing. His overriding message, for me at least, was that for police work to be effective we desperately need to move away from the enforcement model. Andy argued that police work is still seen as waging total war on crime and, whilst kicking down doors and rushing around with flashing blue lights can be exciting, this is ultimately not the best use of anyone’s resources.

The work led by Andy is an attempt to address this, creating a police force that acts earlier at every possible opportunity; enabling people to flourish at the top of the cliff rather than catching them at the bottom.

Creating an early action culture

Total war on crime is also total war on criminals. This culture, reinforced by training regimes, encourages many police officers to be pessimistic and form a pejorative view of the 10% of the public with whom they have to deal on a regular basis. A few of these people are undoubtedly nasty individuals, but many perpetrators of crime also have complex problems that lead them to commit such acts in the first place.

Too much enforcement therefore leads to a deficit of compassion. As one paramedic, working on a project aimed at reducing demand created by vulnerable people who make excessive and repeated calls, put it: “don’t judge people based on where they are, but on where they have come from”.

Empathy is central to this; recognising that every individual has strengths and assets to nurture, and that everyone needs a personalised approach that takes into account their unique past and present situations. One such example of this can be seen in the Jobs, Friends, and Houses programme in Blackpool, detailed in Andy’s previous blog post for Community Links.

Leading the way for systems change

Sometimes when we talk about leadership we focus on those at the very top. They are important because they have the power to stand in the way of  (or even encourage) initiative, but as Andy pointed out it is often the front-line who are most excited by change.

Many of his comments on this reminded me of a piece by Ray Shostak in One Hundred Days for Early Action, the Task Force’s latest publication. In it he argues that we need to ensure that we need “a movement of front-line practitioners” that must “start with people working together to advance their shared ideas”.

Indeed, as Andy told us, the defining moment of his early action journey was the realisation that common ground is not good enough: you need a shared purpose. Hitting targets is not much of a motivator, but changing lives is. Due to the highly discretionary nature of police work, officers must want to act earlier. By exploiting the intrinsic link between values and a shared purpose the early action ethos can be inculcated.

This is particularly important when we consider some statistics that Andy shared with us. Firstly, from a very simple economic perspective, Lancashire Constabulary currently spends 48% of its time dealing with issues that may have been prevented had they been addressed earlier, including issues around welfare, anti-social behaviour, and public safety. Secondly, many resources are used by a range of organisations beyond the police for a small population of high intensity users. Real benefits – both financial and social – can be derived by acting together across organisational silos.

One response to this realisation was the creation of an early action department. This integrated 8 separate teams from a range of organisations that were already doing early action work. They now collaborate to decide the best course of action as early after a referral as possible, utilising a multi-agency home assessment of need and a lead professional to oversee the process. This enables a wide range of professionals to work around a shared purpose: supporting those with complex needs and ensuring they have the opportunity to flourish.

Total war

At the end of the session Andy mentioned that Lancashire Constabulary had just been awarded £4.3m from the Innovation Fund over 2 years. He welcomed this, but warned against the temptation to throw money at new initiatives when core services could be made far better by investing in integration and systems change.

Ultimately Andy is leading the charge at Lancashire Constabulary; no longer waging total war on crime, but on entrenched need and vulnerability.

Staff are being encouraged to move beyond seeing criminals as ‘the enemy’ and instead as people with histories, human vulnerabilities, and capabilities. Different organisations are being encouraged to work together and address need far earlier than they ever have been before.

There is still much work to be done. However, if inspiration is the first step in any total reinvention of a system and a culture, Lancashire Constabulary has already taken one huge leap forward.

An inspirational day with Jobs, Friends & Houses

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Our previous early action guest blog posted by Deputy Chief Constable Andy Rhodes on March 16th was exceptionally well received and, as Andy noted in his additional comment on March 26th, widely circulated.

Lots of readers asked for more information or for the opportunity to discuss the work. Dawn Austwick, CEO of the Big Lottery Fund, kindly offered to host a meeting for Andy to share his experience.

It will be from 10.00 to 12.00 on June 1st in central London, venue to be confirmed. It’s free, of course, but we expect lots of interest so please book early by clicking here.


On April 10th I spent the afternoon visiting the Constabulary’s first Community Interest Company (CIC) – Jobs, Friends and Houses (JFH) in Blackpool. It was one of the most inspirational and humbling experiences I have ever had as a police officer. This blog post explains, hopefully quite succinctly, why this is radically different and therefore why it is achieving great things. Before I do let’s start with one of those moments where you have to really stop and ask yourself ‘did that actually happen?’

I arrive at a big Victorian property in the centre of Blackpool, a place I know well. It’s in full re-development mode having just been stripped out by the JFH team. I’m greeted by a guy who I instantly recognise, I think he recognises me and I feel quite anxious. The last time we met I’m sure he was throwing a storage heater down a staircase at me? He’s talking me through the work they are doing on the property and we get into what brought him here, his journey. When I talk later about the hundred and one things that make JFH tick – I mean the hundred and one things that are different, that are complex and need to be understood from the perspective of the individual not the perspective of the system. His insights were powerful and also should give us hope.

Jobs, Friends and Houses works on the principle that the majority of people who have committed crime have done so as a consequence of personal issues that have their origins in early life experience. Unconditional Positive Regard so to speak. It therefore approaches the problem of rehabilitation with a mind-set that is more empathetic and optimistic. As Steve the Police Sergeant who has brought this into reality despite huge cultural resistance says ‘we refuse to believe it’s ‘when’ someone re-offends it’s ‘if’ because we believe in them and we believe in what JFH can achieve’.

JFH understands that for people whose life journey leads them to addiction and crime things get very complicated very quickly. Everyone in society faces life’s challenges yet for some these become barriers that build up over time until they are impossible to unravel. Look back at your own life and take stock of the ups and downs: births, deaths, marriages, divorces and health problems. Now imagine bouncing back from all of this without family support, with no qualifications, with an addiction, with no accommodation , no job and a criminal record. The ‘system’ we all live in is pretty complex … moving house or becoming a carer for a parent with dementia reminds us of that. For some it’s so complex they end up on the outside looking in, becoming disengaged and stigmatised. All too often they turn to crime.

Now I’m a police officer and I believe that if you commit a crime you should be held to account, I’ve seen the devastating impact crime has on victims. This isn’t a call to ‘go soft on crime’ but quite the opposite JFH is an example of ‘what works’ and how radically you have to think to reduce crime, victims and the human cost of addiction and offending. Public sector partners take note: this has the potential to save you millions. Ask your local prison just one question ‘how many people are in here on breach of licence?’. My opposite number who runs a prison knows he is releasing offenders only to see them fall foul of the system that needs to provide … Jobs, Friends and Houses! So they return. Add it up it’s millions.

So what does JFH do?

JFH is a Community Interest Company run by the police. New for us, but so far not radical. It was pump-primed with a grant from the Department of Communities and Local Government, gained in partnership with Blackpool Council. The CIC buys run down properties and renovates them using fully-trained tradesmen who are employed by the CIC. It takes referrals from a variety of agencies and provides volunteer training moving to full employment in the CIC . Volunteering to accredited training to employment. The mentoring support is provided on the job and the property portfolio then rents to the workforce. Jobs, Friends and Houses – simple?

Not so simple and there are one hundred and one things that make this tick, like any great innovation it’s driven by a core of incredible characters who have been there, done it – and bought the T shirt. I spoke to some of the people working on the houses and the stories are powerful for me as a police officer. The ‘offer’ presented by JFH gives us an insight into what can be achieved by ‘integrating’ a service for a certain group of High Intensive Users – and it not only does it not cost the taxpayer a penny it is generating jobs, improving the housing stock and they are paying tax!

Now many people may read this and think this is nothing new. In policing terms we know the pathways that reduce re-offending – what JFH does is deliver them in an integrated way. Offender Management teams do their best to collaborate and ‘manage’ the problem but nobody has the time to provide the 24/7 support provided by an integrated service like this. This is strengths-based, cost effective and very personalised. It looks at the reality of what life is like, what motivates people to change and is adapting every day by learning from the client group about ‘what works’.


Early Action is what police work should be all about

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Andy Rhodes is the deputy Chief Constable in the Lancashire Constabulary. I first spoke to him three days after we released “The Triple Dividend” – the first publication of the Early Action Task Force.  He’d read it from cover and cover and wanted to meet. This blog is Andy’s account of what happened next.

We talk in various Task Force publications about the relationship between systems, culture and leadership.  Really significant change in the ways that big organisations work cannot be achieved without simultaneously attending to all three. For many organisations, but perhaps particularly for an emergency service, early action is a really significant change. I remember listening to Andy introduce the idea to a senior team that was more accustomed to measuring performance on numbers of arrests made than on trouble prevented. I saw how he was beginning to  redefine both the deeply entrenched cultural expectations of a “good police officer” and the multiple demands of a rigid and complex structure. Three years on the remarkable progress in Lancashire shows what can be achieved with  bold and tenacious leadership directed equally and consistently at custom and practice, structures and systems.


A few years ago I saw an email land in my inbox entitled ‘Triple Dividend’ and rather than deleting it thinking it was the latest government savings plan I opened it. Now I am a police officer and one can be forgiven for thinking that Early Action hasn’t been on the top of my list for the last 24 years, in fact I’ve probably made a few decisions that have prevented a  more sustainable solution being put in place. So what is it about Early Action that I passionately believe is so compelling for the police service in 2015 looking ahead 10 to 20 years?

The police spend 90% of their time, money and effort on fewer than 10% of the population. This is how it is, it has always been and always will be. In fact with reducing resource we will become even more focused into the high intensive users of our service because this is where the vulnerability is most severe and where the demand exists. All too often we get caught up in a purely reactive cycle and have only committed to longer-term work with partners and community if it has been additionally funded, now the funding has gone what is left ? The system. That’s been there since 1945.

Most of us joined policing to make a difference and to help keep people safe. I recall once seeing a police officer to congratulate them on passing their two year probation only to hear her say ‘we aren’t making any difference … it’s  the same sh*t just a different day’. This is not in any way where we ever wanted to be. It’s bad for the public, bad for the officer and bad for society overall. Don’t let anyone tell you the police don’t make a difference … they do and Early Action, when integrated into daily business at a strategic and tactical level, IS the future of UK policing.

We know the police are but one small part of a very complex system involving that most unpredictable of factors – human behaviour. We like to think we are in control , that we do A and we achieve B. This is the philosophy of New Public Management, outdated and defunct in 2015 yet still promoted as a legitimate way of delivering public services. It isn’t working because it never worked and what got us to here will most definitely not get us to there. Public Value Leadership on the other hand … that is a whole new blog for another day suffice to say – it’s where we need to be.

So, in Triple Dividend language, we are running around at the bottom of the cliff feeding the beast. At best putting a daily sticking-plaster on some of our most complex social problems, at worst making things even more complex.

We have a great track-record of problem solving and neighbourhood policing, yet in times of reducing budgets this is being seen as a luxury we can no longer afford. Wrong. The saviour of local neighbourhood policing is Early Action and I’ll explain why.

This is the police triple dividend

Dividend 1 – Tackling vulnerability We are seeing unprecedented rises in high victim  impact crimes such as child sexual exploitation , historic abuse, vulnerable adult abuse etc. Mental Health is now our number one area of demand and crime now only accounts for 17% of what we do. The rest is all about vulnerability which is Early Action territory. Austerity is making the most vulnerable in society more vulnerable, added to which we know people are living longer and this will continue to increase as a percentge of what we do.

Dividend 2 – Reducing demand Police budgets have been hit hard and will be hit hard again. Understanding demand must avoid knee-jerking towards demand diversion or the setting of thresholds to reduce work.  Crime prevention is no longer just about more locks or more security lights , it’s about early intervention. 64% of prolific offenders in my force come from households with a domestic abuse marker. In Glasgow, Karen McClusky (incredible woman) put ‘violence’ on the Scottish Governments policy priorities list as a public health issue not a policing issue. She took a stand against a culture of violence that has it’s roots in childhood experience. ‘If you bring a kid up in a war zone why are we surprised when he turns into a warrior?’ is her powerful wake up call.

Dividend 3 – Meaning & Purpose Nobody wants to spend their life adding no value and making no difference. Police officers are, by-and-large, ordinary folk doing an extraordinary job, just like paramedics, mental-health workers, social-care workers and teachers. We do it because we care about people. Early Action is what we joined to do because it’s hard, it’s complex but it makes a difference.

So we know  this will not be solved through traditional collaboration or multi-agency working. We need integration not collaboration. This is because a) we can’t afford to keep paying 18 different professionals to sit in the same room and talk to each other and b) if I had 18 different professionals knocking at my door every week I’d be utterly confused and so are our most complex families. We need one public/community sector asset not 18. Step out of your silo , be prepared to give to receive and start thinking more radical thoughts.

What are we doing about it here ?

The first step was to talk to all our key partners to clear up the language of Early Action … language is important to get right from day one  and we did this by holding a conference / workshop. This resulted in massive support and formal sign-up (yes a signature on a piece of paper!) to an EA commitment, a locally tailored version of the Early Action Task Force principles.

We then commissioned some specific research through The University of Central Lancashire to build on the national evidence base, specifically focusing on joint outcomes. All organisations are going through massive change and we were determined to avoid prevention being the victim of short-term budget saving. We have developed Early Action into our policing delivery model which means we have dedicated resource allocated and most importantly a plan that will ensure neighbourhood teams focus on EA as their fundamental purpose. We are NOT just adding EA on as another silo, it’s everyone’s job.

We have some amazing examples of partnership working that ’walks the talk’ on EA , Transforming Lives in Blackburn is a fine example. Across Lancashire we are seeing a new energy for partnership, huge increases in volunteering and more progress than we have seen for decades. Why? Because people across the partnership share values. People who share values can move mountains!

By using hard demand data to convince people that EA can reduce demand with purpose and compassion we are seeing numerous cases where our most complex, vulnerable people are being supported so that they move from being viewed as a problem to being viewed as a fellow human being.

Arthur was excluded from every GP surgery and had called the police over 900 times in three months resulting in 140 deployments. A paramedic ran a pilot to case-manage Arthur’s vulnerability; which originated from mental health, alcohol and isolation. She negotiated with him and the Clinical Commissioning Group to gain him access to a GP and all responders contributed to his plan. Result: Proper care for Arthur and huge reductions in harm and demand for the partnership. EA can deliver public value and financial savings as well as helping those most in need.

We are on a journey that has no end … you have to accept this as part of the challenge. I reviewed our plan last week and the complexity of the system multiplied by the complexity of the need can seem daunting unless you begin with the fundamental question ‘why?’ Many great people from Ghandi to Churchill have urged us to consider that ‘any society is judged by the way it treats it’s most vulnerable citizens’. Policing is a profession that often  sees the tragic reality of system failure. We see the consequences of short-term thinking, silo working and inside-out thinking. Early Action is what police work should be all about.

Andy Rhodes, Deputy Chief Constable, Lancashire Constabulary.