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Police Resource/Duty Management – It’s Just Matching Officers to Shifts… Right? By Jennifer Simmonds

Police Resource/Duty Management… it’s a discipline unlikely to arouse too much excitement from most people, after all, it’s just matching Officers and Police Staff to shifts, right? Well, let’s examine that assumption.

The world of Police Resource/Duty Management has changed dramatically in recent times.  A perfect storm of external factors has culminated in a noticeable perspective shift; the Resource/Duty Management team, which may have been viewed as an administrative / tactical function in the past, is now increasingly being regarded as a strategic discipline, as this function has a fundamental impact on policing strategic priorities.

In this short blog, I will offer my thoughts on what’s changed, and highlight some of the key responsibilities of the Resource/Duty Management team.

Changing World, Changing Law Enforcement

The past few years have fundamentally changed both the publics’ usage of police services and the nature of such work. These are challenging times for law enforcement. Set against this backdrop, Resource/Duty Management teams are affected by some of the following important change factors:

  • Ever increasing scrutiny on the need to optimise officer resources, ensuring an efficient use of public money.
  • New and evolving crime challenges including data theft, online grooming, stalking etc. These challenges require new specialist skills and resources to combat.
  • Insatiable public demand for police services.
  • Increasing need to offer officers and Police staff flexible employment contracts.
  • High level focus on employee wellbeing and employer ‘Duty of Care’ – How many consecutive night shifts is deemed safe?

So, apart from matching people to shifts, what else do the Resource & Duty Management team actually have to do?

Well, it’s a very long list– a list too long to include here. Essentially, Resource Management is all about getting the right people, with the right skills in the right place. The Resource and Duty planning team must find a balance across all shifts while anticipating the uncontrollable. Here are some key responsibilities:

  • Making sure that the right number of officers are available to cover a particular shift. Too many officers’ results in a resource surplus wasting public money & budgets. Too few officers on a shift could be highly dangerous for both them and the public, and the ability to be agile in responding to the uncontrollable.
  • Ensuring that the rostered officers have the right skills for the shift and anticipated duty of work and ensuring that the skill certifications are up to date.
  • Ensuring compliance with Police Regulations at every step.
  • Planning and administering abstractions (annual leave, training, sickness, court attendance etc.), ensuring appropriately skilled cover is in place.
  • Planning resources for known events, such as sports events, public demonstrations, and dignitary visits.
  • Reacting to unpredictable emergency events such as extreme weather events or terrorism. This is particularly strenuous as there is a real-time and dynamic need to understand who is be available to respond, if they suitably skilled and subsequently contacting the officers with a request to work with minimal notice provided.
  • Administer claims for overtime, TOIL, etc.
  • Ensure pay is calculated accurately, reflecting actual hours worked in addition to various claims for specific events.

So I think we can safely say that Police Resource and Duty Management involves considerably more than just matching officers to shifts.

Can technology help with Police Resource/Duty Management?

Absolutely!  The right combination of people, process and technology can not only help with all the tasks and responsibilities listed above, but if the required systems and integrations are in place, the entire end-to-end lifecycle of Resource/Duty Management can be made seamless – a world where double/triple keying information into two or more systems doesn’t exist!

Below is a breakdown of how technology can support the end-to-end lifecycle of Resource/Duty Management:

Resource Management Stage

Can Technology Help?

Calculate Demand

Potential to use ‘Machine Learning’ and ‘Algorithms’ to forecast resource demand. There are examples of this in use in UK Emergency Services.

Design Shift Patterns

There is unique technology available in the UK to aid the design of shift patterns, based on an individual organisations  resourcing objectives.

Roster Shifts

Advances in rostering technology means that up to 90% of the roster can be automated. This leaves the Resource and Duty Management team to focus on the 10% of more complex, day-to-day challenges.

Capture What Has Happened

The introduction of Resource Management Mobile Apps and Web Portals have enabled easy ‘Clock on/Clock off’ functions, as well multiple other ‘self-service’ functions. Alternatively, time can be captured from the forces command and control system and automatically fed into the Duty Management system.

Reaching Nirvana – The End Goal For Police Resource/Duty Management

The end goal of Police Resource Management is to:

Optimise cost and service effectiveness whilst ensuring the duty of care of officers and staff

As you already know, police have very complex scheduling needs, and the daily environment is highly dynamic and constantly changing.  Police forces around the UK are starting to review the processes and technology required to meet the goal.

Presently, there are very few solutions available that have been specifically designed for UK Policing. However, there is one solution vendor which can help you reach the goal of rostering nirvana. If you have an opinion, or would like to discuss duty management, please connect with me via email – it would be great to hear your thoughts and ideas.

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