Stories from Practice

4 February 2019

Auditor gives Yorkshire police a good governance makeover adapted from Simone Rensch and Public Finance

Bureaucratic procedures had overtaken the work of the South Yorkshire Police. A thorough audit and reorganisation plan by Rob Winter, Head of Internal Audit at South Yorkshire Police, has embedded good governance so that the police can deliver better services to the citizens of Yorkshire.

A new approach

Without the audit, there would have been no change. Following the audit of the police services, it came to light that many of the people found the procedures overly complicated. For this reason, Rob began to identify procedures in each organisation that could work more efficiently. He also figured out an implementation plan that was reliable and straightforward. Often, such initiatives end without result because of the complicated infrastructure of controls. Rob’s goal was to make sure the changes he identified were put into practice.

This new approach was called Organisational Infrastructure (OI) and it gathered 11 domains, covering financial management, information governance, asset management and ethical standards. Each of these domains had about 15 high-level controls. The controls were assessed by the force’s management. At that point, it became simpler for the team to recognise gaps, the way to intervene and who was accountable for them. For example, one of the main developments was altering the processes, even in such simple changes as a different way of requesting support from the IT service.

Positive reactions

At the beginning, staff found the changes difficult, but slowly, people warmed up to the new ideas. Now the challenge is on implementation. For example, there has never been any formal mechanism to hold a district commander to account for governance.

Today, this mechanism has been adopted by other local public services including a fire and rescue service, and it is considered a model that can be further utilised in other sectors and professions. The OI approach has changed their way of working and it proved that procedural roadblocks can be altered and reduced.

In Rob’s words, “It’s just reconnecting the whole force with good governance … and making them very clearly accountable with the compliance of those controls.”

Following the success of this project, Rob won the Public Finance Innovation Awards 2018, in the Good Governance category. With good governance in place, management can now receive the information it needs to function correctly and provide a better service to the public.

Adapted from an article by Simone Rensch in Public Finance: ‘An arresting way of thinking’ 


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