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Government cuts create challenges for those who rely on public money to run services. One of the main dilemmas is how to run them with fewer staff. 

Hackney’s Met Police commander is getting creative in the use of training to address this problem, offering bobbies on the beat specialist ‘John Lewis-style’ training in conflict resolution.

On hearing of this plan, Hackney councillors voiced surprise that it’s not already being done. 

Yet the police initiative should be seen as a useful lesson for the council, which has been found by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to have been less than diligent when it comes to training staff at its Housing With Care service, which helps people, including those with dementia and learning disabilities, to live independent lives. 

The CQC graded the service ‘Inadequate’ in a variety of areas, partly on the grounds that the council increasingly relies on agency staff. 

In response to the report, the Town Hall has resolved to teach staff “how to have detailed conversations with service users as individuals”, something most would think would already be pretty high on its list of training priorities.

Surprising as it may be that the new police programme has only just been dreamt up, at least it invests in front-line officers, rather than outsourcing services to the private sector. 

The council would do well to take a page out of the Met’s book and make less go further by investing in loyal staff members. Better late than never.

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