Initiating change : best value in the police service
Managerialist principles have been applied within public services for a number of years but their ability to alter or improve public service has been questioned. This study examined the introduction of Best Value in the police service. Best Value was introduced to Police Authorities by the New Labour Government in the Local Government Act 1999 to ensure that all services provided by these authorities were 'delivered to clear standards'. In addition, they must take into account the cost and quality of all services and provide them in the most efficient, effective and economic manner. All services are subject to review over a five year period and should be reviewed in connection with the fours C' s, competition, comparison, challenge and consultation in order to achieve continuous improvement. In addition, Best Value aimed to change the organisation of the police service by encouraging a greater role for the Police Authorities in deciding how services were delivered, supported the opening up of the police to partnership arrangements and promoted the need for local innovation and ways of working. The main aim of the research was to look at the effects of these 'Best Value' policies on the police service and whether the implementation of these policies led to improvements in service delivery and the restructuring of the organisation as intended. This was achieved by selecting three case study areas and employing a number of research methods including semi-structured interviews, using documentary analysis and examining quantitative data. The study found that despite initial differences in the way the Best Value was implemented a fairly uniform approach was adopted in the three Police Authorities. It established that Best Value was encouraging the police service to make changes to the way that services were delivered. In addition, there was some evidence that Best Value had encouraged greater involvement of Police Authorities in deciding how services were delivered. Under Best Value change tended to be gradual and incorporated both national and local objectives. This incremental nature of change meant that as yet there was little evidence of improvements in measured performance.