Today, at the police authority I questioned the Chief Constable about the satisfaction rate reported by those who are victims of anti-social behaviour. For reasons that the Constabulary are working to understand this indicator stands at 74.1% and is slowly declining. Just over a year ago the reported satisfaction rate was around 85%.
In other words just under 3/4 of people who call on the police for assistance regarding 'ASB' are satisfied with the response from the police. In many walks of life a score of around 75% is 'A' grade material. However when dealing with victims of ASB you have to look at this indicator the other way round. 1/4 of people are not satisfied with the response.
The picture regarding ASB is complicated as all other indicators concerning ASB are all moving in the right direction. There are fewer ASB incidents reported from the same location, there are fewer ASB incidents reported from the same caller and crucially of all there are significantly fewer incidents of ASB when compared with both a year ago, and indeed over a period of 3 years.
So, with all the other indicators all moving in the right direction why is it that the satisfaction rate is slowly declining?
The police have been changing the way they operate and the responsibility to report back to victims is now largely with the case officers and not a dedicated call centre. This was what provoked the challenging reply from the Chief - 'You've got to feel the service to make a difference.'
Now to most people this concept of customer satisfaction perhaps sounds alien in the context of policing where, all to often, the knee jerk reaction is for the police to be more concerned about 'hanging and flogging.'
I have to say I am very much heartened both by the Chief's reply, his concern for making sure that victims are properly served - and crucially of all that by far the vast majority of statistics demonstrate what a first rate job Cheshire Police is doing - notwithstanding the austerity cuts which all public authorities are having to bear. But it does show that policing isn't all 'black and white.' It is a people business with all the joys and difficulties of managing people and their expectations - and that isn't easy.
If only all our public services were, leaner and more effective!