HMICFRS Evidence Gathering Template
His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), formerly Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), has statutory responsibility for the inspection of the police forces of England and Wales, and since July 2017 the fire and rescue services of England. HMICFRS is headed by the Chief Inspector of Constabulary and Chief Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services. It has taken over the responsibilities of His Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate.
The HMICFRS Inspection team faced significant challenges with the Evidence Gathering Template (EGT) system, a process designed to collect inspection data, primarily due to its reliance on Excel spreadsheets for capturing both pre-inspection and inspection data. This method resulted in data being stored in an unstructured format, which limited its usefulness for further analysis. Additionally, this system hindered the team’s ability to gain a comprehensive view of key inspection information across various forces. A major issue was the lack of a streamlined method for the inspection team to access previously collected data. This absence of an efficient retrieval process for historical information added unnecessary effort to their workload, diverting time and resources away from more productive tasks.
HMICFRS outlined a comprehensive set of requirements for a system designed to optimise the inspection processes. Key user needs included easy and rapid access to extensive information, a template for pre-populating information gathered before inspection fieldwork, and the ability to use this data to inform fieldwork questions. The system was required to provide a clear method to identify the status of each question, record the quality of evidence (good, bad, or neutral), and support collaborative, multi-user functionality. Offline capability and full accessibility for individuals with visual impairments, such as color blindness or nearsightedness, were essential. The system was meant to minimise the amount of information inspectors needed to carry, offer the ability to auto-populate linked documents to create reports, and include views for input, output, and national perspectives. Additional features included the ability to tag findings across multiple forces, integrated spell check, and keyword search functionality.
A robust and streamlined system has been developed to store evidence and inspection data gathered both before and after inspection fieldwork. This system enables the Inspection Team Leader to generate an EGT structure by pre-populating the inspection questions before the start date of the inspection, thereby saving several hours for the inspection team. The fieldwork dates are automatically populated into the team’s calendar, providing a clear picture of the schedule well in advance.
Once the inspection details are uploaded into the system, the Inspection Team Leader receives an email notification. This system saves several weeks’ worth of time for the Inspection Team Leader by eliminating the need to manually collate each inspection team’s data in a spreadsheet. Collated evidence becomes immediately available for all inspection teams to view upon submission. The system is built using SharePoint Online, Power Automate, and a third-party Excel Add-in called Excalibur. A Proof of Concept was also set up to demonstrate the offline capabilities of Power Apps.