On 1 January 2015, the Swedish Police were reorganised to create a unified authority. The government commissioned Statskontoret (The Swedish Agency for Public Management) to evaluate the reform. Statskontoret has already submitted two interim reports and this is the final report on the commission.
In this report we assess how the reorganisation has been undertaken and how well the reform has achieved its goals. The evaluation is based on the conclusions we described in the interim reports and in the investigations that Statskontoret conducted in spring 2018.
Better conditions for effective activities
Statskontoret considers that the reorganisation has created better conditions for the police to run their activities. The obstacles to more effective activities that the Police Organisation Committee highlighted before the reform have been largely removed. The unified authority is more cohesive and the reorganisation has improved the sharing of information and collaboration within the Swedish Police.
The overall organisation also makes it easier to use resources in a flexible way. Operational management has become clearer, partly because the Sweden Police have set up regional management centres and a national operational department. All in all, this means that the Swedish Police have largely achieved the goals that aimed to improve the conditions for the authority's activities.
The results of the Swedish Police's activities have not improved
Even though the reorganisation has created better conditions for the Swedish Police's activities, the goals of better operational results and higher quality in the Swedish Police's work have not been achieved. The Swedish Police's ability to act against crime in the most serious incidents has certainly been enhanced, but their ability remains unchanged for other crimes. The Swedish Police's availability and contacts with citizens have also not shown any definite improvement. We can also confirm that the results of investigating activities have continued to worsen, even after the reorganisation.
Several explanations for the goals not having been achieved
There are several reasons why the goals of the reform have not been achieved. One reason is that it may be too early to see the effects of measures that the Swedish Police have recently implemented. In other cases the measures have not yet been fully implemented. Examples of such measures are the introduction of area police officers and the reinforcement of standby operations and the coordination of cases.
In the report, we highlight the three main explanations for all measures not having been implemented in the way intended by the government for the reform:
- The Police Authority is not making full use of the benefits a unified organisation brings to govern the organisation.
- There have not been sufficient resources to achieve many of the goals. The reorganisation has not yet freed up resources to the extent expected by the Implementation Committee.
- The reorganisation has been more difficult to implement than expected in parts.
Authority governance does not have sufficient impact
The Swedish Police have formed national joint departments and more powerful management functions, which has improved the conditions for governing the authority. But Statskontoret considers that the Swedish Police have not made full use of the improved opportunities for governance.
Process governance and operational follow-up are two central tools for implementing and achieving results from the measures that aim to improve the results of the core activity. Statskontoret's conclusion is that the Police Authority should have made more progress in developing its governance and that this has resulted in many measures not having been implemented to a sufficient extent. One example is the introduction of the Swedish Police's National Investigation Directive (PNU), which contains a number of measures to enhance the quality of investigating activities. Statskontoret confirms that key elements of PNU have not been implemented all over the country.
Insufficient resources to realise the ambitions
Statskontoret's conclusion is that the personnel available have not been sufficient to staff the new organisation. This is particularly noticeable at the local level, where both police employees and municipal representatives feel that in many cases availability has worsened since the reorganisation.
The aim of the reforms is to increase the ability and the quality of work within the whole organisation, especially within the Swedish Police's core activity. But neither the Implementation Committee nor the Police Authority conducted any aggregated analysis of what resources would be required to realise the ambitions. We also confirm that the Police Authority has been unable to implement the savings and rationalisation measures that are necessary in order to fully staff the new organisation.
The implementation of the reform has been more difficult than expected
Statskontoret confirms in the two earlier interim reports that the reorganisation appears in certain respects to have been more difficult and taken longer to implement than expected. One probable reason for this is that there are both managers and employees who have little confidence in the reorganisation. The reorganisation of the Swedish Police's support functions to create joint national departments has also taken longer than expected, which has had a negative impact on the reorganisation.
Seven recommendations to achieve the goals of the reform
Based on our observations and conclusions about the reorganisation of the authority, Statskontoret is submitting a number of recommendations to the Swedish Police. In order to achieve the goals of the reform in the longer term, Statskontoret recommends that the Police Authority prioritise the following in its ongoing work:
- Enhance the ability to carry out strategic planning and governance. In the report we state once more that there is a need for persistence, prioritisations and an impact assessment analysis in strategic planning and governance. This is important not least in an event-driven organisation such as the Swedish Police.
- Enhance impact of governance. Governance signals that reach out to the whole organisation are a prerequisite for implementing lasting changes, for example to introduce the measures within PNU.
- Develop follow-up so that it supports the organisation's needs. Operational follow-up has not been adapted to the new organisation. Follow-up needs to link up the Swedish Police's goals and resources better with the way the authority is governed, for example through processes and budget.
- Be persistent and reinforce local police work. Both governance and resource prioritisation need to be long-term in order to provide lasting reinforcement to local police work. Previous experiences show that otherwise the initiative risks petering out.
- Continue to analyse what has to be uniform in the organisation. It can be possible to achieve an equal police operation even if the organisation permits greater local or regional adaptation, for example to geographical and population-related conditions.
- Develop the joint national departments. We consider the national support departments to be an important tool for governing and uniting the authority. But the departments need to be both more effective and better at adapting to the organisation's need for support.
- Avoid IT systems becoming a bottleneck. There is a major need for IT development within the Swedish Police. We confirm that the IT systems are an obstacle to achieving higher quality and effectiveness within the entire Police Authority.