29 April 2015

The source of ideas

I have stopped researching and servicing this blog so actively now but it still contains hundreds of ideas about how to do more with less in the public services. These are all searchable and browsable below.

Also: if you come across a particularly good (new) example, please let me know and I will upload it to these pages.  My email address is jon@jonharveyassociates.co.uk

And please remember: within in every organisation is a wealth of talent, innovation and ingenuity! Hire consultants (if you wish to) for their ability to help you and your colleagues uncover this talent, innovation and ingenuity - not because you want to import theirs!

24 July 2012

It's the summer!

This is the time of year when many people begin thinking about suitcases and ice creams. But as you sit or stand in a queue somewhere, please ponder a moment: what ideas for improvement impressed you in the last 12 months. What different ways of doing things are now yielding some fresh and better results.

Perhaps when you return - you may like to share them with everyone here on this blog - which has now be browsed over 26,000 times by people from around the world.

23 December 2011

It has been a while... (and seasonal greetings!)

I have been busy with other things. But my apologies for not posting much on here in recent months.

So to refresh this blog - and remind people this blog is entirely searchable - I will say again why I started this blog. Two ideas really. I get fed up with the public services wasting money on large consultancies to tell them what their front line staff already know about ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness. And secondly, I just want people to be engaged and it saddens me when creative, resourceful and innovative people are overlooked in favour of some external bright thing who has the next best answer to slicing bread...

This blog is about documenting the remarkable ways that people have found to make public services better often with no more and often now with far less resources. How are you doing it? Please tell us here. Thanks.

If you are looking for an idea - have a look below. You will be delighted, amazed and impressed by the range of ideas. And if you cannot find what you are looking for - please email me - I may well be able to point you in the right direction. (Just click on the side bar for my email address).

And - moreover - it is free! There is no charge for this information and support. In how many other places would you find ways to save you and your taxpayers money whilst improving services.

Unlike others (whom I won't mention) this blog knows about VALUE as well as cost!

Finally - do have a great Christmas and New Year - 2012 will be tough for many people. I hope that this blog will go some way to making things a little easier.

16 May 2011

Developing IT Provision in Times of Austerity

Government, Local Authority & Third Sector 
IT Provision in Times of Austerity
Friday 10th June, Westminster Studios, Central London

The need has never been greater for public and third sector services to make the most of their existing IT infrastructures and systems, and harness the free and low cost options provided by the web. Options to procure new systems or expensive upgrades are now very much more limited due to fiscal pressures.

This 'open space' conference will offer you a unique and intensely interactive opportunityto investigate, develop and enhance your existing IT systems, and explore how web tools (such as dropbox, yammer and many other social media applications) can help you to achieve more with less.

The workshops will provide you with many opportunities to share, collaborate and devise shrewd strategies and deft innovations designed to make the most from the IT within your organisation and how you can harvest all that the net provides – often for free.

What is Open Space?

How many times have you been to an event and come away with two thoughts: the ‘break times were the most valuable’ and ‘how I wish we had talked about X subject’? How many events have you attended and discovered later that a colleague or contact was present but you never had the chance to sit and talk with them? How often have you wished to leave an elective workshop after the first few minutes and visit another, but felt compelled to stay?

Austere: IT’ has been designed with these experiences in mind: not only will you be able to create the agenda precisely around the issues that matter to you but also you will get to know all about what other discussions are going on as well. You will have the scope and flexibility to craft the day to exactly what you want it to be.

Or as Ken Eastwood of NOMADS (http://publicsectornomads.com/) has said “Having a conversational event around these issues will be most fascinating and helpful”

This event will identify critical ways in which existing central government, local government and third sector IT systems can be innovated to provide enhanced value for money with no or very minimal extra investment. As a consequence, the possible topics include:
  • Developing new ways in how to use low cost off the shelf packages, or free to use services on the web to deliver services to the public (such as http://www.dropbox.com/http://www.doodle.com/ and http://www.caffein.tv/
  • Using social media to ‘oil’ communication around public & third sector organisations (here is one example: http://danslee.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/case-study-how-yammer-can-help-local-government-innovate/
  • Redesigning the human processes to make more use of the IT systems 
  • Using unconferences, govcamps and other interactive means (face to face and web based) to create new applications with partners and users 
  • Making more flexible use of existing contracts with external suppliers to provide more for less 
  • Harnessing the insights, ideas and power of customers, users and other stakeholders 
  • Collaborating with neighbouring agencies and authorities 
  • Extending functionality to new areas and services 
  • Developing and adopting greater commercial leadership & ‘nous’ in negotiating with external providers
    This is not just about making do, or even mending what we have (though those can help) – it is critically about harnessing all the resources at our disposal – which includes many low cost or free services already available

    Register today and save £200 (All delegates registering by Friday 6th June will be entitled to a £200 discount. To register please follow this link.) If you have any questions regarding the event please email Katie Gilroy. (Account Manager- Local Government, Neil Stewart Associates. Direct Line: 020 7960 6852)

    More information here


    Brendan Harris - Interim Director of Knowledge and Innovation
    Services Directorate Support Team Manager
    Local Government Improvement and Development

    will be giving an opening presentation

    21 April 2011

    Questioning Engagment

    Here is a link to the latest e-book from David Zinger's ning - a set of brilliant questions for leaders to ask their staff, colleagues and bosses - in order to create more engagement.

    There is nothing as powerful as a good question, in my view!

    20 March 2011

    Austere:IT' ...sweating the existing systems

    I am now in the advanced stages of organising a conference on a 'make do and mend' approach to public services IT. It will be a different style of conference - a highly interactive and dynamic conference - in that all present will be able to shape the agenda on the day - towards what can be done to sweat, tweak, exploit (etc) existing IT in order to achieve more with less.

    This is in the context of there being no money to buy expensive new systems or upgrades - hence the title.

    If you are interested in finding out more, possibly attending and getting involved in the debate - please contact me: jon@jonharveyassociates.co.uk . Thanks

    The date to pencil into your diary is 10 June 2011

    Otherwise - please watch this space for further details...

    10 March 2011

    New digest: 330+ ideas & counting!

    This blog has now had over 20,000 page loads so I thought it was about time to produce another digest of all the ideas in an readily accessible pdf format. You can download it here (from Google docs)

    Please search, peruse and plunder practices that will help you deliver more with less.

    09 March 2011

    Slugging: a sustainable response to higher fuel costs?

    ...Public transit never shows. But, eventually, a blue Chrysler Town & Country does. The woman behind the wheel rolls down her window and yells a kind of call-and-response.
    “Horner Road?”
    “Horner Road?” repeats the first woman in line.
    “Horner Road!”
    And two women get in the van, heading, presumably, for Horner Road...
    People here have created their own transit system using their private cars. On 13 other corners, in Arlington and the District of Columbia, more strangers — Oliphant estimates about 10,000 of them every day — are doing the same thing: “slugging.”...

    A (long - and I have not read it all) post about how commuter behaviour has altered in the US in response to high occupancy lanes - a self organising system for sharing transport - that appears to benefit all. (Click here for the full document)

    Yesterday I tweeted about the system that Devon has in place to help people organise car sharing (see below) - and why more councils should be copying this approach. 

    But perhaps what is needed is the space to create slugging in this country... So come on local government - can you create conditions in which this might happen in this country too?

    24 February 2011

    DotGovLabs: Innovation Hub

    Just been sent details of this website which is designed to provide "a virtual space enabling digital innovation of public services."

    The philosophy of the Innovation Hub will help you learn more about how the hub brings together users, innovators, investors and government to shape and build radical digital solutions to social challenges. The Innovation Hub provides new ways to collaborate. Finding solutions to social challenges and breaking down barriers

    Here is the link: https://dotgovlabs.direct.gov.uk/Page/Home

    So it is a place to find out more ideas on how to deliver public services in innovative ways. Please visit!

    (Thanks to Noel Hatch for the invitation)

    23 February 2011

    Do you know where you smalls are?

    Regular readers of my ramblings will know I run two blogs: one about leading change and development from a whole systems perspective and this one about the small and creative ideas that are making a difference in the public and third sectors.

    I am posting this - just to remind people that this blog has over 300 ideas for how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of local services.

    This blog is:
    • Totally free
    • Totally searchable
    • Totally open to more ideas being added!
    In these stringent times - there may just a few small ideas in here to help you reduce costs while still maintaining or even improving services.

    The blog also stands up for public service organisations 'home growing' their own improvements rather than spending buckets of dosh on consultants who borrow your watch, tell you the time, keep the watch and slip a needle in to carry on drawing blood too.

    And this links back to my other abiding interest: leadership. What are leaders doing or should be doing... (apart from not signing cheques for large consultancy contracts that add no value) to foster the necessary levels of engagement / verve / commitment / creativity (even in these austere times) amongst public service staff?

    Answers on a postcard - or better still - please post them on the parallel post on my other blog here


    10 February 2011

    A festival of ideas

    News from the Innovation Unit of exciting developments in Leeds:

    Local authorities helping innovators

    Yesterday, Innovation Unit hosted its tenth Festival of Ideas in partnership with Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership looking at greening public services. In the room, were senior colleagues from local authorities across the Yorkshire and Humber region, social investors who work closely with innovators from the community and voluntary sector and eight innovation projects working to green our public services...

    Full story here

    31 January 2011

    Direct debits: making savings

    Prompted by an enquiry on another site - I did a brief piece of research into good practice on increasing the numbers of people paying their council tax by direct debit. Here is what I turned up:

    Here is some details from Wandsworth - in case you have not already seen this: here and here

    There also appears to have been a London wide campaign: click here

    And here are some more links too:


    27 January 2011

    The BEST in Birmingham

    There is a good summary of the BEST programme that Birmingham City Council runs to harness the ideas of the staff here

    The BEST programme: 
    Improving employee engagement in Birmingham City Council


    Change for any organisation can be hard. The frontline workforce can often feel left out. Birmingham City Council has placed its staff at the heart of the process, boosting their motivation in the process. Birmingham has set up a network of groups that are helping shape the future.

    Key learnings for other councils...

    26 January 2011

    Welcome to this blog!

    I have just written to a large number of public service bodies alerting them (again) to the existence of this blog. If you have been prompted to come here as a result of that email - thanks for coming to visit!

    This blog now has over 300 ideas for how to increase efficiency, effectiveness and overall service. The aim of the blog is to disseminate, celebrate and stimulate practical improvement ideas in the public and voluntary services.

    Given all the huge pressures facing local services, I thought now would be good time to remind people that this blog exists – to help where it can.

    • Have a look at the blog – browse and search it – there may be an idea there that you could use – it’s free and no sign up is required 
    • Let other people know - anyone who you think might be interested in ways to improve efficiency 
    • Write back to me with an idea (or two) that you would like to add to the blog 
    The blog has been browsed now nearly 20,000 times in the last couple of years.

    Everyday people from the UK (and often from places further afield) visit the blog for inspiration.

    I would be most grateful for any ideas you would like to contribute. (They don’t have to be amazingly creative, or unique or even that small... just an idea that you know of, or implemented yourself, that you think is making a positive difference. I will assume that whatever you send me can be uploaded with your name & organisation attached – unless you tell me otherwise. Non attributed postings are quite OK.)

    Thank you.


    U Suggest

    A local District Council writes:

    The scheme was set up in October 2007, and awards are made approximately quarterly.  Of the nearly 90 ideas sent in to U Suggest so far, 23 suggestions have received awards.  The types of suggestion we receive include operational improvements; the highlighting of areas of our service which would benefit from review; suggestions for improved staff facilities; suggestions for carbon emission reduction; ideas for improving internal communication, and so on. 

    I would draw to your attention the following two suggestions, both of which received significant awards under our scheme.

    Suggestion regarding Council Direct Debit changes

    An award was made to an officer for his suggestion that changes to benefits for Council tenants paying by Direct Debit should be generated by an electronic report. This suggestion was made by someone from outside the relevant department, who realised that such a report could save much staff time.  The idea has been successfully implemented. 

    Suggestion regarding testing of Lifeline equipment

    Instead of officers carrying out visits to customers using Lifeline equipment purely in order to check that the equipment was working, telephone testing was suggested.  Of course, in view of the vulnerable nature of many of these customers, this suggestion would not be feasible or desirable in certain cases, but where appropriate, remote testing will take place, thus saving officer time.  

    Thanks for this

    19 December 2010

    Seasonal greetings: a time for prosperity

    At this is a time of year, a good many people take a moment to remember the riches they have.

    These are not the riches that can ever be measured in £ or $ signs. These riches are far, far more valuable than that. These are the riches in the smiles from neighbours, the gleams in the eyes of our children, the kind words of old friends, the courtesies of strangers or the laughs of our family members. These are the riches that make us feel truly warm, solid and human.

    Although sadly, not everyone has these riches in abundance, happily we can all take action to spread more of this wealth around. Whilst I do try to do this wealth creation as much as I can, I will admit that during these austere and recessionary times, I have sometimes become just a tad too focused on the lesser (financial) riches. My resolution for 2011 is to remain resolutely focused on building true prosperity.

    With this in mind, I have adopted the word 'prosperity' for the next 12 months. (The 'I CAN' charity in association with Collins Dictionaries allows you to adopt words in exchange for funding action to ensure that no child who struggles to communicate is left out or left behind. You can adopt a word yourself by visiting here: http://new.adoptaword.co.uk/index.php And you can see a copy of my adoption certificate below.

    So I am sending you my seasonal greetings: I sincerely wish that 2011 will be a truly rich and prosperous year for you, your families, friends and communities.


    22 November 2010

    Communities of Practice

    If you are not already registered with the IDeA communities of practice website - I would strongly recommend joining. It is a hot bed of ideas and helpful practices designed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the public services.

    You can register to join here.

    Watch this space for further links into the CoP as they emerge. Although I am sure you will find much there yourself once you get inside! 

    18 November 2010

    All ideas wanted!

    Welcome to this blog - thank you for passing by.

    Below you will find over 300 ideas for making public and third sector services more efficient, effective or just better. There is a search button to look for any themes or ideas you have in mind.

    I am always on the lookout for new ideas that you think others might like to hear about. So if you have something - please email me and I will post it here. (This can be done anonymously or with attribution - your choice entirely.)

    08 November 2010

    Free creativity tools

    Go to here for some helpful free apps to get your creative juices flowing!

    From smart phones to iPads to our various personal computers and data managers, we have all kinds of tools at our disposal to help us collect information for school work, business, personal use, and more. But even though it’s easy to find, that information still needs to be stored, saved and even shared in a way that’s also simplified....

    200 to 0: Northants Police win

    Extracted from: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/media-centre/news/crime-cracking

    An initiative which reduced the number of sex workers from 200 to zero topped this year's Home-Office-backed Tilley Awards.

    Northampton’s Operation Uncanny set up innovative measure to tackle prostitution in residential areas. This included a 'toleration area' where sex workers were not arrested for solicitation.

    The Sex Workers Around Northampton (SWAN) partnership also gave advice and support on health, housing, drug addiction and education to help the women exit prostitution. Meanwhile, police monitored the area to identify and arrest customers.

    Seems like a very good result all round. Congrats to the Northants Police team

    22 October 2010

    Employee engagement - even more yet again!

    David Zinger has managed to inspire an even better (free) e-book on employee engagement - a series of 6 word descriptions on what employee engagement means. Well worth a browse!


    (My contribution is on page 6)

    07 October 2010

    Another story of front line dedication & innovation

    Here is a great blog post about why front line people should be celebrated and indeed involved in the process of finding cheaper and better ways of delivering local public services.

    Here is the link to the article entitled "Just a reason why frontline services in Local Gov should be celebrated!" and you will be intrigued and delighted by the story told. It is a story of dedication and the resulting insight reduced the amount of work to be done to achieve the same result.

    The service is street cleaning by the way - one of the core services provided by local councils.

    And thank you to Spencer Wilson for the story - who can also be found on his twitter account here.

    21 September 2010

    Sexual Offences Almost Halve During Operation Northdale

    I understand this project run by West Yorkshire Police won the overall winner of the 'Excellence in Policing' award (sponsored by Alexander People) at the ACPO EiP conference today.


    Streets in West Yorkshire’s towns and city centres have continued to get safer for late night revellers this summer following the end of a major campaign. Police and partners have said they are very pleased that levels of sexual offences in the towns and cities have remained low and dropped by 48% during the operation Northdale campaign..

    More information here. (Twitter site for WYP is here.)

    Thanks to Justin Partridge for this information

    UPDATE: Here are all the other winners - click here (thank you to SurreyPA for that link) Congrats to all!

    13 September 2010


    I am part of a small team which is planning a guerilla conference on a make do and mend approach to using IT in public services. The aim is to create an event that will enable people to exchange ideas and develop new ones on how to make the most of existing IT. Specifically, we hope the (free) event will be a celebration and dissemination of all that can be achieved without purchasing new kit / software / contractor time / bells / whistles etc. (This event will be an antidote to the burgeoning number of other events which are still promising huge cost reductions by paying for just that one more piece of ("waffer thin mint?") IT investment

    Please watch this space - there is more to follow - including what we mean by a guerilla conference! (Well - you have heard of guerilla gardening... try thinking along similar lines...!) The date will be towards the end of the year - possibly early into the next.

    But meanwhile... do you have examples of where you have spotted or even initiated a change or achieved a result with a deft (and zero or very low cost) use of an existing IT system?

    Please post these examples below as comments (or you can email me if you prefer) - thank you!

    07 September 2010

    E-books: now more easily available

    When this blog reached 15,000 uploads I turned into an e-book. You can now access and download if you wish, this off Google Docs by going here.

    For your information my other blog (Jon Harvey Associates) is also available in e-book form as well (produced when it hit 10,000 uploads) from here.

    26 August 2010

    Using art to change the world - one car at a time...

    Here is a link to an inspiring installation by Janek Schaefer. This was part of the IF Festival in Milton Keynes recently. I did not attend this event (although I did enjoy many other parts of the festival) - but someone I know did - and she found it eerily compelling & persuasive. The website captures some of the mood and purpose of the art exhibition.

    Asleep at the Wheel

    I think we sometimes, perhaps even often, underestimate the power of art to 'nudge' behaviour and be part of the effort to create a better (healthier, happier, more sustainable, cleaner, safer...) society.

    What do you think?

    Thanks to Janek for the link and prompt.

    UPDATE: Janek has just produced a short film about the installation. You can see it here http://www.audioh.com/projects/asleepatthewheel.html

    25 August 2010

    100 uses of social media in Local Government

    Ingrid Koehler of the IDeA is a regular poster on their Communities of Practice - which if you have never been to - you should!! 

    Anyway, Ingrid has collected together a 100 uses of social media in Local Government on her website - a rich resource of innovative and useful gems. You can see them all here: Local Gov 2.0

    So if you are stumped for ideas about how the world of social media & Web 2.0 can benefit communities - look no further!

    The Travelling Pantry and Social Spaces

    Just stumbled across this excellent resource to get you thinking about 'making and creating' (things and communities etc.) as opposed to passively watching other people make and create things. Some links:


    (Great video - worth watching the whole nine and half minutes - and delightful to see somebody else mentioning Ivan Illich!)

    And here is the part of the site talking about the Travelling Pantry free workshops - why not have one in your organisation or place?


    I adore the idea of the pantry. I can just smell the warm flour and baked apple...

    You can follow them on twitter: https://twitter.com/tpantry (which is how I found them - they found me first!)

    14 July 2010

    A small milestone #2

    A few days ago - the sister blog to this reached a threshold of having over 10,000 page loads. To celebrate, I turned that blog into a free e-book (pdf file) http://jonharveyassociates.blogspot.com/2010/07/small-milestone.html.

    This blog has also now just had over 15,000 page loads and I have done the same and a free e-book of this one now exists as well.

    I have posted copies of both books on the Communities of Practice site (http://www.communities.idea.gov.uk/welcome.do) and the Employee Engagement Ning (http://employeeengagement.ning.com/forum/topics/2-free-ebooks). Please go there if you would like copies. Or, if you prefer, just email me and I will send either or both back to you.

    Thanks for reading and more ideas are always welcome!

    05 July 2010

    Inclusion Cardiff: An empowering extranet

    Great service here run by Cardiff City Council - which enables users of the system the chance to network, question, challenge & share ideas with a view to boosting inclusion and empowerment in a whole range of projects and services:


    Inclusion Cardiff enables collaborative working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by providing an unlimited number of authorised users with access to secure groups and forums.
    • The site aims to empower users by explaining current social projects – with a facility to ask questions of the project team, or join in
    • It has a library of background reports and useful links that can be accessed and commented on by the user community
    • There are also areas where unregistered visitors can offer their views and ideas or join in with a range of discussion forums
    • It has a secure online document store, where authorised users can share and work on documents together
    • Content can be easily and quickly updated, giving users access to the most up-to-date information available
    • The extranet uses the latest Open Source software so there is no cost of additional users or groups.
    Practical empowered citizenship in action that will help build the Big Society too. I wish them well. (Thanks to Tony Riches, of Cardiff City Council for this link)

    02 July 2010

    Just a recap: the what and why of this blog

    The Small Creative Ideas news blog has a simple core idea: people have creative ideas about improvement all the time but far too many organisations are very good at making sure these ideas never see the light of day. My blog aims to shine a light on those ideas that have been made to happen and so support, and celebrate these, and stimulate more. My hope is that more people and more organisations will tap into their own seam of small creative ideas.

    The focus is mainly on the public and third sectors since more than ever before, as austere budgets are being set, we need these agencies to be using every ounce of their resources as well as possible. But many of the ideas can equally be applied to many commercial organisations too.

    And that is it really. Over the last year and bit since the blog was established, there are now well over 300 ideas on there and nearly 15,000 pages have been downloaded. There is much to browse (there is a Google search button for the site) and to get people’s creative juices flowing.

    Some of my favourite ideas include the one from Lewisham concerning garden sharing. The council faced a problem: they had far more people wanting allotments than they had allotments to spare. Age Concern approached them saying that many older people had been in touch with them wanting help with managing their gardens. They put the two groups together and everyone won. You can read more here: http://smallcreativeideas.blogspot.com/2009/06/unique-garden-share-scheme-cuts.html

    Another favourite have been the succession of postings about customer journey mapping from Stoke City Council. This began with an early post from them advertising the fact that they had developed a tool for mapping such journeys. Partly as a result of the interest in this tool generated by the blog, they decided to host a workshop which was advertised on the blog. At least another workshop has now also been run. This is all documented here: http://smallcreativeideas.blogspot.com/2010/04/customer-journey-mapping-new-workshop.html

    Sometimes I go out and find examples to put on the blog that I stumble across elsewhere such as this one about a website created for people with learning disabilities. I first heard about this on another bulletin board that I subscribe to for ideas and conversations. http://smallcreativeideas.blogspot.com/2010/07/my-home-my-say.html is the blog post that will link you to what seems to me to be a most remarkable site that will help to empower people in thinking about their housing needs.

    Other times people write back to me, in response to my emails requesting information, with details of ideas they want to share. Sometimes this may just be a list of lots of ideas as with this cornucopia: http://smallcreativeideas.blogspot.com/2009/03/regular-cornucopia.html

    And indeed sometimes people write out of the blue offering information such as this one where a contributor told me they had placed the blog in their list of top fifty best blogs for creative thinking: http://smallcreativeideas.blogspot.com/2010/07/creative-thinking-some-excellent-blogs.html

    Developing the blog has been enormous fun and I delight in each new idea that comes my way. In the end, I hope that the blog will help to inspire more managers and leaders to spend more time creating the conditions in which all stakeholders come forward with their small and creative improvement ideas.

    (This has been submitted to the http://creativistsociety.tumblr.com/ website - but I thought I would place it here too - as it is a useful signpost to this blog and expresses again my hopes for this space...)

    01 July 2010

    Creative thinking: some excellent blogs

    Just to note to mention that this blog is now included on the '50 best blogs for creative thinking' (http://www.onlinedegree.net/50-best-blogs-for-creative-thinking/). I am honoured - so my thanks to them.

    Please visit their site - there are some great links there.

    My home my say

    This website has been created for the Northamptonshire Learning Disability Partnership board who are seeking to support individuals to co-produce their own LD Housing Strategy. It is a great site - well laid out and shows how the power of the web can be used to increase accessibility and empowerment.


    It has been developed by Sandra Lomax-Pearce of SLK Training and Consultancy. As she writes elsewhere (http://www.idea.gov.uk/idk/forum/thread-maint.do?topicId=20067580):
    "the site will be officially launched in the next couple of weeks and is a web based communications hub developed to keep everyone informed about progress and further encourage people with disabilities and their supporters to participate in the development of the housing plan (strategy).
    As well as following the progress of the project, there will be lots of useful information added the site to help people with disabilities learn all about housing options, care and support, welfare benefits, education and employment opportunities etc so if you know of or have an existing resources that we can share please get in touch.
    The discussion forum developed for www.myhomemysay.co.uk has large text and colour switchers and is available free to anyone interested in making their discussion forum more accessible to users.
    You can view the forum and its accessibility features at: www.accessibleforum.org.uk"
    Well worth a look in my opinion.

    Accessible transport information

    Just been alerted to a great service in South East Dorset (thank you Steve Maskell of Bournemouth Council) that provides helpful & accessible information to enable people to get around. It seems great for people who want or need to have a range of options available to them.

    Here is the link to the site:


    21 June 2010

    Radical Efficiency: Different, better, lower cost public services

    Went to a fabulous session this morning which launched a new report from NESTA about 'radical efficiency' and how to make it work. The point was well made that delivering public services in a radically different way is no longer just very important or even critical - it is an imperative! Here is a link to their excellent report:

    The launch had some excellent presentations and questions - which prompted lots of ideas in my head about how to make effective and efficient innovation happen. I will write more later - but here is quick summary which I have already tweeted (of course!): 
    • Use the common wealth to create more common wealth...
    • Look for ways to connect consumers together to create new expertise resources
    • Stop blaming central govt and just get on with taking radical action locally
    • Break accountability 'rules' and give authority to the point of service delivery
    • Lead so that you enable risk taking, not to close it down
    • Get everyone in one room so that professionals can 'hear' the voices of consumers directly!
    • Think of doing more with more (not less) - but redefine what you count as your resources
    • Create a culture where structure & passion coexist sublimely to achieve real results
    My huge thanks to everyone involved with the report and indeed present at this morning's event. (I wish we'd had the whole day to debate the issues emerging... perhaps NESTA would like to organise such a day....?)

    26 April 2010

    Postcard Safety: great idea from the NHS

    How postcards that asked four simple questions improved patient feedback on safety: A postcard that patients can use to give feedback on their hospital experience is the latest measure adopted by a trust since it signed up to Patient Safety First...

    More here (thanks to Nursing Times & Helen Noble, clinical governance and patient safety manager, Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare Trust - who developed the idea)

    The questions are:
    • Did you feel safe in hospital? Yes/no. If no, please give further details;
    • Were you given enough information in relation to your hospital stay/treatment? Yes/no. If no, please give further details;
    • Was a member of staff readily available when you needed them? Yes/no. If no, please give further details;
    • Do you feel the physical environment was safe? Yes/no. If no, please give further details.
    I posed the question - why not ask for the positive feedback too? Appreciation can lead to improvements as well.

    21 April 2010

    Radical efficiency: new report

    Great interim report (full report to come soon) from The Innovation Unit:

    Radical Efficiency: Delivering Much Better Public Outcomes for Lower Costs Through Innovation
    Radical efficiency means different, better and cheaper public services. This is achieved by reconsidering the challenges faced by public services as well as rethinking the resources that are best suited to tackle them. By redefining desired outcomes rather than simply adjusting or trimming old models, they are able to make savings on a significant scale.
    The report lists some good ideas and some challenging questions to get people thinking about innovation for efficiency in the public services.

    And here is one place where these ideas have been applied: Croydon Council - Total Place

    You might also be interested to read my (other blog's) recent posting on a 'legs eleven' set of ideas around beliefs that will help to build more efficiency and effectiveness in the 'new country' we are about to enter. Click here

    15 April 2010

    iPhone App: reporting things to fix

    Just spotted this application via iNews (see the original post here) - Lewisham have developed a phone application that allows people to easily report problems for the council to fix - such as potholes or instances of vandalism. You can find more information here. It has just been extended to all of London.

    But why not an app to allow people to praise what a local authority, or NHS service or police unit is doing too?

    08 April 2010

    Customer Journey Mapping: New Workshop!

    Will Haywood from Stoke-on-Trent City Council has kindly emailed me to say they have organised another workshop about their CJM approach. It is on 28th May starting at 10.00am. If you wish to go - please email him either by clicking here or here 

    Details of previous workshops and their approach can be found by clicking on these links here:
    I have also blogged about this too - if you have an interest: 
    Some questions I would pose about CJM are:
    • Can too much mapping lead to exhaustion? (see this post for further ideas on this)
    • Can mapping get in the way of exploring?
    • Is it appropriate to use the term 'customer' when financial restrictions will mean that partnering with local citizens becomes an economic necessity (see here for more about this debate)
    • Is CJM on its own enough? What other organisational development is required to make the most of the insights and ideas gained?
    • How hard is it to engage executive and political leaders in CJM? What else needs to be done?
    • How much danger is there that CJM sanitises the frustrations and ambitions of local citizens by turning it into a 'map'? How direct, face to face and authentic conversations between service users & providers (at all levels) built into the process?
    • What change of culture is required to make the most of CJM? Or does CJM itself stimulate a change in culture?
    • How should the investment in CJM be evaluated? How has it been evaluated already? 
    • In these increasingly stringent times - is CJM a nice to do or a need to do? What are the key arguments to assert its value?
    Just some thoughts. As always I wish Will and his colleagues all the best with their forthcoming workshop!

    UPDATE: It is my understanding that this team has now been disbanded.

    06 April 2010

    Twittering for the Queen's peace

    Here is a very interesting blog about how real time twittering helped to police high profile and volatile demonstrations by the English Defence League and Unite Against Facism at the weekend.

    Is this part of the future of policing?

    How are other public agencies (and police forces) using the power of the web to co-create better futures?

    Please send any more examples to me - thank you!

    25 Talks to Ignite & Unleash Your Creativity

    Just been sent this link to a series of presentations to inspire your creativity & innovation. I have not watched them all - but if they are all of the quality of this one:

    ... they are well worth a browse.  I was struck by her point that art is able to effect social change in ways that straight politics may not always be able to. A point worth pondering on

    The blog posting describes the list of 25 talks:
    Whether you’ve fallen into a creative slump or just want to get inspired to make something new, there are loads of speakers and lectures out there that can explain, ignite and hopefully, motivate your creativity. Here are just a few we’ve pulled together to help you get your creative juices flowing and offer a free online education in everything creative, innovative and artistic right at your fingertips
    Do have a browse.

    Thank you to Emma Taylor for this link.

    30 March 2010

    Technology being used to catch paedophiles

    In a story put out today by Police Information, it seems as some IT boffins are working on ways to determine the age and gender of someone merely by the way they type:

    Paedophiles who use the internet to groom vulnerable youngsters could be identified by the way they type on a keyboard. Computer tracking experts at a Brit university have been looking at ways to determine a typists age, sex and culture in just ten keystrokes. This would enable computer companies to identify whether an adult is intruding on a child's conversation.

    Full story can be found here

    Some clever stuff which I assume began with someone just having an idea. 

    08 March 2010

    Local Innovation Awards Scheme winners

    Lots of good ideas here - of where local innovation is making a difference to the lives of local people:
    • Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council - Building economic resilience
    • Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council - Taking control of care
    • Sunderland City Council - Policing our communities together
    • Northumberland Council - Keeping children and young people safe in the community
    • Northumberland Council - Achieving more through partnerships
    • Halton Borough Council - Bright Ideas: Priory Brewery and Refectory
    • Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service - Bright Ideas: promoting healthy eating
    • Northumberland Council - Bright Ideas: carers as expert care partners
    • Northumberland Council - Bright Ideas: strengthening families
    The links to all the projects and more information - can be found here

    But here is a challenge for next year:
    Tackling challenging community issues using talents across the generations: The evaluators did not shortlist any of the applications in this theme.

    03 March 2010

    Buying with confidence in Tameside

    Neat idea from Tameside Council to support local traders & the economy whilst simultaneously protecting local consumers:

    Tameside Trading Standards has launched their Buy With Confidence approved trader scheme to support legitimate businesses and to protect the residents of Tameside from the rogue trader. The scheme has 100 businesses/traders on the list but is expected to increase very quickly to become a comprehensive directory of reliable, trusted traders. All members are independently checked by staff from Trading Standards for compliance with the letter and spirit of the law and will benefit from positive publicity... More here

    Should all local councils be doing this? 

    17 February 2010

    Care & Repair - Knowsley

    This seems like an excellent service

    http://twitter.com/KnowsleyCouncil - If you live in Knowsley, it's worth keeping a note of this service in case your heating ever breaks down - it's free! http://bit.ly/cmFcng
    The role of Care & Repair Knowsley is to promote independence by providing advice and help to Knowsley residents who require assistance. We do this by providing a wide range of cost effective, efficient, client centred services, which are flexible and can be adapted to meet changing needs.

    16 February 2010

    Devon County car sharing


    What a neat idea - why aren't all councils doing this?

    CAR SHARING continues to grow in popularity in Devon and more people have signed up to Carsharedevon.com already this year. Almost 120 people registered last month with the free car share service commissioned by Devon County Council, in partnership with Plymouth and Torbay Councils. The free prize draw for newly registered members joining between 1 and 31 January helped boost figures again. Elle Scragg, from Crediton, was the lucky winner of £100 vouchers. Elle travels daily into Exeter. She said “So far I've been really impressed with Carsharedevon. I found out about it by seeing the boards up on the lamp posts on my trip to work....
    More information here 

    11 February 2010

    Innovation, alcohol & violence

    It is now a fairly common practice for the police to hand out lollipops to late night clubbers as they spill out onto the streets in the early hours of the morning. Here is one story for example from a local newspaper: http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/1058566.lollies_prevent_booze_violence/

    West Oxfordshire Local Area Commander, Chief Insp Dennis Evernden said: "Research shows the sugar content helps to stabilise the behaviour of those who have consumed alcohol."
    This is great innovation for several reasons:
    • It works
    • It is evidence based
    • It is cheap
    • It has several positive outcomes (including reducing noise levels and helping to create a better relationship between police and clubbers) as well as the main one
    • It is fun!
    Thanks to my associate Gary Purser for reminding me of this innovative strategy

    09 February 2010

    Greater Manchester Police & innovation

    Greater Manchester Police has won an award for innovation in its fight against crime. The force’s Design for Security consultancy has scooped the Association of Chief Police Officer’s Secured by Design Innovation prize of £10,000. The award recognises GMP’s pioneering work in providing crime prevention design advice to architects, planners and developers.

    Good to see how GMP have developed a process for designing out crime from the earliest stage of a new building or shopping centre development:

    A major part of the service is the Crime Impact Statement. This is a collaborative process in which the Design for Security consultant works closely with the architectural design team during the very early stages of development. This work embeds well-established crime prevention principles within the design to protect the proposed buildings from crime

    03 February 2010

    Innovation in Justice

    I have a long time association with the Centre for Court Innovation based in New York. They do some excellent work around reforming how justice is administered not only in New York but also the rest of the USA. Indeed their reach has extended to these shores and they have been involved the establishment of new kinds of courts in this country. I worked with them on setting up, facilitating and reporting on a round table discussion about Justice reform in this country. There is a report of it here if you are interested. (I also got to meet Shami Chakrabarti on that day and she is just as impressive in real life as she is on BBC Question Time - more so in fact!)

    Meanwhile - they carry on their excellent work and they have recently put together a list of podcasts about new thinking in justice. You can access it here. There are some excellent examples of how relatively small changes to the justice system can be made more effective, efficient and fair.

    27 January 2010

    Another healthy checklist!

    Just come across another checklist derived from research with a wide number of nurses. Developed by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement - these "Eight High Impact Actions" are designed to guide nurses to transform care and quality:
    • Your skin matters – ensuring no avoidable pressure ulcers
    • Staying safe – preventing falls
    • Keeping nourished – getting better
    • Promoting normal birth
    • Important choices – where to die when the time comes
    • Fit and well to care
    • Ready to go - no delays
    • Protection from infection
    The full 'Nursing Times' (thank you to them) article can be seen here (or a quick summary here).

    Inner tube tyres: vending machine

    Thank you @OxfordSpring for this link to a German system of vending inner tubes for marooned cyclists. Could we have something like this here?

    The power of the checklist

    Yes - we all 'hate' checklists and all that infuriating 'box-ticking' that goes along with it... But are we in danger of overlooking the power and usefulness of a good checklist that has been well researched?

    Listening to the radio this morning (BBC Radio 4) I heard a piece about how the airline industry & World Health Organisation has been working with the NHS to deploy the 'Surgical Safety Checklist'. The main principle of this seems to be about team work and making sure that, at the start of an operation, everyone knows what they are doing.

    To quote a well known meerkat - "simples!"

    There are the other stories about these developments here, here and here. And there is more information about the whole approach to create "The Productive Operating Theatre" on the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement here.

    But back to checklists... how many other services could be improved for want of a good checklist? Whenever I talk about 'knowledge management' (which is often over complicated beyond belief) I talk about the value of a simple checklist as being the embodiment of practical knowledge.

    What checklists do you work with... and what new ones would help?

    UPDATE: A couple of good articles here too: New Yorker 1 & New Yorker 2

    23 January 2010

    Kent County Council: making research more collaborative and cost-effective.

    (Thanks to fellow blogger and KCC Research Support Officer, Kirsty  Russell for this contribution)

    Kent County Council has long been acknowledged as an ‘innovative council’. It has led the way on several fronts including Telecare and Telehealth, the Kent Payment Card, Gateways, Kent TV and a vast range of service specific projects.
    In addition to those ground breaking initiatives, the Technology Research and Transformation Team has been looking at how the innovative use of technologies and tools can change the way business is done, support individuals to work smarter and enable knowledge and ideas to be exchanged seamlessly.

    This has taken many forms, from the establishment of e-Catalogues to Innovations Fairs through to the development of a public sector ‘mash-up’ service. Our recent focus has been directed towards the deployment of tools that are more collaborative and cost effective. Part of that process has been the establishment of a blog called iNews.

    You may be wondering why we are using blogging techniques rather than more traditional mechanisms? Primarily it’s because we recognise that it’s often difficult to find out the latest news and views across a broad topic area. At the moment we are testing out a range of new tools as we want to develop mechanisms for enabling ‘innovation conversations’ with a range of individuals and organisations including officers, Members, partners, private, public, third and FE sectors and the public. Blogging offers an alternative to more traditional ‘broadcast’ mode options as it is immediate, interactive and offers the capability for multiway dialogues.

    We want to use emerging technologies to provide a better understanding of key topics as well as establishing a platform for comments, ideas and challenges. From using games to influence behaviours, clubbing for jobs to sharing links on managing knowledge, we feel it’s by sharing stories that we can best convey how innovation can help realise benefits, maintain tangible change and reduce risks.
    In addition to sharing what we do, we also use the blog to highlight other projects, reports, conversations, ideas or articles via a free social bookmarking service (http://delicious.com/KCCInnovation). People can opt in to receive a daily digest of research findings, and they can personalise what areas are relevant to them by filtering for specific topics. To maximise participation and help users feel comfortable about using this new way of communicating we provide tips and guidelines on how to blog.

    Other ideas we are currently researching and developing include better use of semantic web tools to enable greater engagement, text to speech visual presenters that may potentially save users and staff up to 40% of their time in answering standard questions by an enhanced (and hopefully intuitive) FAQ system, the impact of disruptive technologies on an organisation, opportunities within Web 3.0 and how interactive gaming tools can increase and strengthen community interactions. Clearly there is a lot happening and we welcome readers’ contributions and comments via i-News.

    For more information please contact Kirsty on kirstyjoanna.russell@kent.gov.uk and visit our blog which can be found here: www.transformedbyyou.blogspot.com

    21 January 2010


    Just to note that this blog has now had 10,000 page loads since I started it back at the end of February last year. Woohoo!  Thank you and welcome to all readers, visitors and regulars.


    Another new eBook on Employee Engagement!

    Just published

    Employee Engagement: Powerful Sentences of Advice for Managers

    Another stimulating book from the employee engagement ning developed by David Zinger. Some sample sentences:

    • Check your own engagement regularly - you need support, recognition and inspiration as much as your employees, in order provide an environment that will engage your people fully. (Anna Buxton)
    • Care for people around you and get to know who they are, what strengths they bring and what’s important to them. (Lisa Sansom)
    • Understand every member of your teams motivation, align their aspirations to a clearly communicated business direction, give them all the tools to do the job and then empower them to deliver. (Susanne Jacobs)

    11 January 2010

    Parking - more innovation!

    I am sure that most of us hate parking! The whole process of parking from finding a space, squeezing your car into it and then paying the charge can all be very tiresome. The paying bit especially is tricky when you don't have enough change. Especially as parking charges are going up - who wants to be weighed down with bucketfuls of loose change.

    One answer to this problem is below where Westminster introduced mobile phone paying. A good idea but one that slightly scares me if truth be told. But then along comes an even better idea (in my view) from Southampton. Moreover it is an idea that a citizen had: Oyster (type) cards to pay for parking. What a great idea!

    More information here - thanks to the Daily Echo.

    07 January 2010

    Salt and stuff: innovation in Cumbria

    In these Arctic times - innovation & creativity are clearly are huge value. I know from personal experience how dangerous minor roads can be in the current cold snap. Therefore it was great to read about this story (thank you LocalGov.co.uk) about Cumbria County Council's response to the crisis:


    A northern council is using an innovative method to treat minor roads in the current extreme weather conditions. On Monday, Cumbria County Council had opted to only treat priority one and two routes due to dwindling salt stocks, but has now started treating priority three routes using sea washed stone chippings from a local supplier....

    (more from the link above)

    This sounds like a fresh idea and so congratulations to the staff and councillors who had this brainwave!

    18 December 2009

    Seasonal greetings!

    I would like to take this opportunity to offer all readers of this blog my sincere festive greetings and good wishes for 2010. May this forthcoming year and indeed the next decade of this century be healthy, happy and prosperous for you and all those whom you care about.

    I do not send out printed cards in order to keep a few more trees in the ground, turning CO2 into oxygen. As part of this I have made a small donation to Adoptaword which is a charity which helps children who struggle to find the words they need to communicate. I ‘adopted’ the word abundant as I aim to help people & organisations tap into their abundant sources of ideas for improvement.

    With warm regards & seasonal cheer


    16 December 2009

    Bus stop displays help with community safety

    Bus stops in parts of Essex will be displaying personal safety messages over the festive season

    The initiative has been organised by Sergeant Matt Mallett who has worked in partnership Essex Traffic Control at Essex County Council. This is the second time the scheme has run; the pilot ran during the month of April 2009. Sgt Mallett said: “We are constantly looking for innovative and creative ways of getting crime reduction and community safety messages across to people, particularly during the evening and night-time.

    Info and full story from http://www.policeoracle.com/news/Essex-Police-Utilise-Digital-Bus-Stop-Signs_20973.html Thank you to them and Essex Police for this bright idea!

    Customer Journey Mapping Workshop: the results!

    A Customer Journey Mapping workshop was held Stoke-on-Trent City Council on Wednesday 4 November 2009. 12 candidates from various organisations attended the workshop, with delegates from Newcastle Borough Council, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Derby City Council and Staffordshire Connects among the attendees.

    The workshop, delivered by members of Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Best Practice and Service Review Team, began with a welcome followed by an introduction into Customer Journey Mapping. This included an overview of what it is, how it can help bring ‘customers experiences to life’, what benefits can be realised by using Customer Journey Mapping, and Stoke’s own journey.

    Following the introduction, delegates were introduced to Stoke’s Customer Journey Mapping toolkit and taken through a number of scenarios in groups to demonstrate use of the toolkit for data capture. During these exercises, discussion and interaction between delegates for different organisations was encouraged, reinforcing the learning and generating a sharing of ideas and views.

    Once the data capture was completed, the group moved on to discuss how this data can be used to identify and deliver service improvements. A brief overview was provided, followed by breakout groups where delegates were encouraged to identify possible improvement initiatives using the data generated within the first part of the workshop.

    Discussions continued over a networking lunch and the group left with the understanding of how this approach, as part of a business improvement toolkit, can help provide an important insight of how an organisation deals with its customers, as well as how this can help shape both policy and service delivery.

    Comments received from delegates included, “It is a fresh look at Customer Journey Mapping from an authority perspective”, “The course did ‘exactly what it said on the tin’”, “I enjoyed the workshop with all delegates contributing”, “Straight and to the point” and “Practical and based on real scenarios”.

    In all, the workshop was a great success, with delegates happy that personal expectations had been met and leaving with the confidence and understanding to implement and use the model. Since the workshop, there has been continued communication between delegates, sharing successes, discussing approaches and signposting colleagues to the toolkit. 

    (Thanks to Will Haywood for this information.)

    UPDATE 1: It is my understanding that this team has now been disbanded

    15 December 2009

    Community led sustainability in North Devon

    Just spotted this story from North Devon in the village where I went to school and my Father was the headteacher:

    A community led development in Bickington has been kickstarted today (Tuesday 15 December) with a major £850k funding boost from Devon County Council. The first phase of this innovative scheme, at Little Bickington Farm in High Bickington, will provide 18 new homes, two workshops for local businesses, a plant room for a woodchip heating plant and other community facilities. Planning consent has also been secured for a new community building and sports facilities, a new primary school, a Multi Use Games Area, a Health Centre and allotments.

    Critically in the context of this blog:

    David Brown, Chairman of High Bickington Community Property Trust, added “This is a great step forward that will be warmly welcomed by all those members of our community who have recognised and supported the need both for affordable housing for local people and also the other essential community services that will be delivered by the project.

    The power of involvement and participation once again....

    More information here

    24 November 2009

    Wouldn't it be better if...

    This is fabulous website brimming with ideas for improvement from the perspective of citizens. I would guarantee that any public agency looking through this list would leave with at least three ideas for where they could improve the services they deliver to their users and publics.

    Please visit, browse, take or add ideas - it has certainly got me thinking!


    (Thank you to the Cabinet Office for this link)

    This is part of the work of the Innovators Council - I thought you might like to know...

    13 November 2009

    New eBook on Employee Engagement

    and I helped to write it (along with 200+ other people)! David Zinger is the founder and host of the expanding Employee Engagement Network www.employeeengagement.ning.com

    David posed the question "What would be the advice you would give to an organization to improve employee engagement? What if that advice could only be one sentence?" The eBook is made up of the eclectic contributions from members of the worldwide Employee Engagement Network. Have a read - there is some excellent stuff! Click the link here (pdf file)

    31 October 2009

    Cultural & Communities Resource Unit: Diversity and efficiency in practice

    Yesterday I learnt about a fabulous project run by the Metropolitan Police Service. Established some years ago now - the project runs a database of officers and staff with specialist skills. The skills include understanding languages and cultures of the various (and many) communities of London. But the database does not stop there, members of the database offer any information about themselves that they think could help with an investigation or other police operational matter.

    The Cultural and Communities Resource Unit is clearly offering an enormously helpful service to the Met. Below, using extracts from a variety of sources, I have outlined more of the detail. My purpose for doing this is to ask you two questions
    1. Should all police services have such units?
    2. And secondly - should all public services have such units?
    I would suggest that the answers to both these questions is a resounding yes. Any public service organisation that is committed to diversity (in its widest sense) will be assisted if it has wide access to the diversity of the talents, interests, and insights of its staff.

    One website describes the database: Staff submit their skills on a voluntary basis and are encouraged to list details of their lifestyle, knowledge of specific communities, extra languages and hobbies. The process is managed 24 hours a day by dedicated CCRU staff and co-ordinators, who also provide strategic advice for operational commanders. The theory behind the unit is that officers with a certain cultural background will be used more effectively in difficult investigations within minority areas. Similarly, staff with an unusual hobby or interest could prove vital if information on that subject is lacking during an investigation. (Thanks to InsideKnowledge for this quote)

    In another article (thank you Personnel Today) it is explained that the concept was first used during the investigations of the Soho nail bombing and the murder of Damilola Taylor. Gay and black officers helped to build vital links with their respective communities to further police enquiries.

    The value of the unit is put in another context in the 2006 Demos Report Bringing it Home - Community Based Approaches to Counter Terrorism which gives an example of how the Unit's database was used to tackle a particular policing problem: An early example of the success of the unit was when Inspector Steve Biollo, who was in charge of policing the predominantly Algerian community near Finsbury Park Mosque, turned to it for help. The area was home to radical cleric Abu Hamza, and had been the scene of several police anti-terrorism raids; there was a high degree of mistrust of the police among the Algerian community, many of whom did not speak English. The CCRU found Biollo a constable of Egyptian origin from another borough who went to work in the area for two to three days per month, and slowly introduced other officers into the community. Although not Algerian, the constable spoke Arabic and had an understanding of North African politics and culture; as Biollo put it, he ‘even went and prayed in the mosque’. The outcome was increased trust of the police among the Algerian community: local people began reporting crimes to the police, and some even made enquiries about joining the police service.34 The unit was successfully supported by the Muslim Contact Unit (see case study 2), which played a vital role in negotiating the relationship with Finsbury Park Mosque.The success of the unit meant that Fraser soon began to receive enquiries from other police forces around the country, and plans have been made to expand the scheme nationally, although this has not yet happened.

    In the same case study, the CCRU’s founding director, Detective Chief Inspector Keith Fraser, is reported as saying "This database allows us to match up the ‘life skills’ – as well as the professional skills – that officers have with the needs of a particular case. The database contains all sorts of information, not only about an individual’s race, ethnicity, faith or cultural experiences, but also things like experience of child abuse, black magic, hostage situations, and so on. It is a really rich resource and allows us to bring new and subtle understandings to our work."
    Setting up, sustaining and making the most of such a database is a complex task where issues about access, trust and confidentiality clearly need to be resolved. However once this is done - such a resource could help achieve three potent results:
    • A better, more diverse and sensitive service is delivered to citizens
    • Staff are valued and acknowledged for all of their talents
    • Operational practice is more effective and efficient (with less use of costly external expertise & more efficiently conducted operational business)
    I wish the Unit well in the future and I hope the practice spreads.