An arresting way of thinking

10 Sep 18

Rob Winter brought in a new approach to embed good governance and control for the South Yorkshire Police that was simpler to use and would provide management information.  Simone Rensch reports. 

 

 

Rob Winter’s fresh thinking about governance and control in the South Yorkshire Police force paid off at this year’s Public Finance Innovation Awards, where his work was recognised.

“It’s not rocket science,” he tells PF.

Yet South Yorkshire Police, where Winter is head of internal audit, had to work out how to embed good governance and control in a way that would provide management with focused information.

People were saying that procedures were not being complied with because they were too complicated, he explains.

He tells PF: “Any organisation, whether a one-man band, Microsoft or a police force, relies on an infrastructure of controls, policies and procedures that need to be in place, work efficiently and, most importantly, can be complied with reliably and easily.”

Winter set out a way to deliver this change and get the foundations right.

This simple yet effective approach, dubbed Organisational Infrastructure (OI), draws together 11 domains, including financial management, information governance, asset management and ethical standards.

Each of these domains is underpinned by around 15 high-level controls, which were reviewed and approved by the force’s strategic and tactical leads.

Management then considered whether the controls were being complied with. This enabled the team to quickly identify gaps, action needed and who was accountable for these in the force’s governance approach.

One quick win was a change in the way teams request support from the IT service.

The OI review encouraged the IT team to rethink its systems and the information it asked for to make it simpler and easier to comply with.

Winter says the biggest challenge was that people had to “fundamentally change” the way they think and work.

He explains: “It was about winning hearts and minds.

“There was a new senior command team that understood the concept and, after a few difficult years, was ready to look at something different.

“It’s just reconnecting the whole force with good governance – and what that actually means – and making them very clearly accountable with the compliance of those controls.”


‘It is reconnecting the whole force with good governance and making them very clearly accountable with compliance.’

Rob Winter 


The initiative is about half completed, Winter says.

In the beginning, it was about developing concepts, having discussions and getting people used to the idea that they would have to think differently. It is now about implementing formal mechanisms to hold people to account.

Winter says: “The challenging bit now is how we weave it into a performance management system, because up to now there has not been any formal mechanism to hold a district commander, for example, to account for governance.”

Good practice is spinning out.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority have also adopted the approach.

This shows, says Winter, that the model is successful and can work beyond the policing sector.

Entries for the Public Finance Awards 2019 are now open. For details, go to www.publicfinanceawards.co.uk.

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