A simple guide to demand analysis in the delivery of victim support services


Managing victim support services can be full of challenges. Matching capacity with demand is a key approach to removing some of the visible and hidden backlogs along a victim support service pathway. In this article we show how to conduct demand and capacity analysis to improve victim support services.

What is gap analysis and how can it help me?

The number of victims seeking support following a crime varies with a variety of factors including seasonality, school holidays, geography and others. This results in the build up of waiting because demand for work often exceeds the capacity available to do that work

In addition, the amount of support required by victims of crime varies significantly depending upon factors such as; the nature of the crime, the support needed and the ability of the individual to help themselves and others.

Understandably then, the demand for victim support services fluctuates up and down significantly with different services experiencing their own peaks and troughs throughout the year.

At the same time, the capacity available to provide support services is fixed at a level that is usually established not by any link to demand but by the level of funding available to provide such services.

Consequently, service providers experience a continual mismatch between the demand for services and the capacity available to deal with it. Managing this can be challenging and difficult.

Accurate analysis of victim support processes and a clear understanding of demand and capacity are essential to achieve effective and sustainable service transformation.

How do we do it? 

Process mapping underpins all service redesign, demand, capacity, activity and queue management, for victim support flow modelling and service planning.

Process mapping, along with measurement of demand, capacity, activity and backlog provides the evidence you need for service improvement. If you don’t understand the processes, you risk changing parts of a process which will not improve the service from the client’s perspective and may actually incur more waits and delays.


Once the process map is complete, the next stage is analysing it by considering the following:

  • Where are the delays, queues and waiting built into the process?
  • Where are the bottlenecks?
  • What are the longest delays?

When measuring victim services, you need to understand and reduce variation in order to improve patient flow. Variation can be seasonal, monthly, weekly, daily or hourly. Much of the variation in victim systems is controlled upon understanding of the patient flow.

Analysing and understanding current system variation is essential in order to reduce overall victim journey times. The variation between demand and capacity is one of the main reasons why queues occur, because every time demand exceeds capacity, a queue is formed showing itself as a waiting list or backlog.

Key measures

There are three key measures that impact service:

  • Capacity
  • Demand
  • Backlog

They need to be understood if you are to manage queues, deliver effective service and make informed decisions. You should aim to measure these factors in the same units for the same period of time so that you can compare them on a single graph.

It is sensible to measure the capacity for all critical resources as these are most likely to constrain the available capacity. For example, in Domestic Violence Cases, the Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) may offer advocacy services as part of a support program. As IDVAs are a critical resource, their availability is often constrains the entire process.

How to measure demand

Multiply the number of victims referred from all sources by the time it takes to support a victim. For example, an advocacy session may last one hour so 12 victims having advocacy support each day would take 60 x 12 = 720 minutes per day.

How to measure capacity

Multiply the number of critical resources available by the time in minutes available. For example, two IDVAs available for 240 minutes each day would create a capacity of 480 minutes per day.

How to measure backlog

This is normally shown in the number of minutes it will take the victims to be processed. Multiply the number of Victims waiting by the time in minutes it takes to process a victim. For example, 20 patients waiting for advocacy support x 60 minute advocacy each session = 1,200 minutes backlog. On a daily basis, there may be additional demand arriving for a service which adds to the backlog.

Assessing results

The data used in the above example is plotted in Figure 1 showing the way that fluctuations in demand against a fixed capacity are causing backlog to increase over time.

For Simon's blog

This quick introduction demonstrates the need to measure your demand, capacity, activity and backlog on a daily basis.

Handling variation

Collecting demand data over a longer period of time allows you to carry out statistical analysis of the demand. Although the analysis becomes more complicated, it allows you to build a richer picture of the process and enables you to make the best use of resources to cope with the challenges of the service. The statistics can then be used to identify the minimum level of capacity you need to ensure that the backlog doesn’t spiral out of control.

The statistics can also be used in simulation models that will enable you to understand how likely problematic events are to occur. For example, if you know that once in every 100 working days you are likely to experience a demand level that is twice the available capacity, then you can make contingency plans to handle that situation as it occurs. This could involve for example, transferring staff from less critical areas of work or recruiting agency support to temporarily increase capacity. Using simulation will allow you to test out which of the solutions seems to offer the best and most cost effective result.


Matching capacity with demand is a vital tool in ensuring that victim support services are managed with optimum efficiency. Measuring the capacity, demand and backlog on a daily basis will show when problems are occurring and allow timely interventions. Using statistics to predict the likelihood that problems will occur is a good way to understand the issues BEFORE they happen and allow management plans to be developed ahead of time.

If you would like to find out more about our new demand and capacity planning service, then please click HERE to access the full case study and to download our service overview.

With further cuts on the horizon, as recently announced, there is no better time to ensure that you have an accurate picture of where your resources need to be allocated – call or email us now for an initial conversation!

Please do not hesitate to call or email or 07515 875381 to find out more about our services.

Simon Pegg is Director of Holleth Analytical Solutions Limited, a business consultancy providing problem solving and decision support to the public sector. For more information, contact him at

Why community budgets must fail – and why they might succeed

Deep breath now… Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs), Local public service agreements (LPSAs), LPSA2, Single Regeneration Budgets (SRB), the Community Care Act, joint finance/pool finance, Health Action Zones (HAZ), Neighbourhood Renewal Budgets (NRB), Better Government for Older People (BGOP), Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs), Children’s Centres, New Deal for Communities (NDC), Health Improvement Partnerships (HIPs), Health Improvement and Modernisation Plans (HIMPs), Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs), the National Service Framework for Older People (NSF), the Rough Sleepers Unit, Section 31 pooled budgets, Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA), Local Area Assessment (LAA), the Primary Care Support Service (PCSS), Children’s Trusts, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the Social Exclusion Taskforce (SETF) report, Neighbourhood Renewal Strategies, Community Strategies, the Data Protection Act, Health People, Healthy Lives, the Innovations Forum, the Social Investment Bond feasibility study, the review of the local performance management framework, Local Economic Partnerships, Partnerships for Older People (POPPs), ThinkFamily, Project SEARCH, Commissioning, More Commissioning , and indeed the Commissioning Support Programme (and Excellence in Commissioning) – and now, community budgets (and neighbourhood community budgets)…

So, apart from Being Very Important (and having obligatory TLAs) – what do all these have in common? (Well, apart from the one I made up and the one I definitely got wrong)…. They are all things that have ‘happened’ to local government and partners over the last fifteen years or so. They are almost all central government-directed, they are all designed to encourage ‘partnership working’. And very few of them really changed the world in the way they aspired to do!

Don’t get me wrong. A number of them moved forward the agenda significantly (if you’ll excuse the form of words). I got the pleasure of quoting Yes, Minister to the ODPM officials when I was part of ‘evaluating the burden of the local authority performance reporting landscape’…

Sir Humphrey: If local authorities don’t send us the statistics that we ask for, then government figures will be a nonsense.
Jim: Why?
Sir Humphrey: They’ll be incomplete.
Jim: But government figures are a nonsense anyway.
Bernard: I think Sir Humphrey wants to ensure they’re a complete nonsense.
Cartwright       I’m saying, nevertheless, South Derbyshire is the most efficient local authority in  the UK.
Minister           Most efficient?  I’m supposed to be ticking them off for being the least efficient.
Cartwright       Look at the figures.  
Minister           I thought they didn’t send us any?
Cartwright       No, but they keep their own records perfectly well.  I’m going on those.  (He opens a file and shows the Minister.)  They’ve got the lowest truancy record in the Midlands, the lowest administrative cost per council house, lowest ratio in Britain of council workers to rate income, clean bill of public health, with the lowest number of environmental health officers

But there was something somewhat irritating in the way these ‘brand new ideas’ were repeatedly launched by the government with the patronising promise of ‘enabling’ and inspiring the ‘best of the sector’ with promises of freedoms and flexibilities. All too often, the new performance indicators were applied, the ‘partnership working’ was agonisingly worked through, and some results were achieved – but the freedoms and flexibilities seldom lived up to their promises.

So, what about community budgets? (And their little sibling, the neighbourhood community budget). On the face of it, it doesn’t look promising. First of all, get out of your mind anything about the community being involved with budgets or budget setting (participatory budgeting barely made a blip, and that was only because Ben Page made it part of his after-dinner circuit for a few months).

The department for communities and local government (never notably influential in corralling or negotiating amongst the big girls like Treasury and the DWP in the past), has very kindly and generously offered local government additional freedoms and flexibilities. Oh, and a whole bunch of civil servants from across government departments on secondment. I can hear you struggling to contain your enthusiasm. In their eagerness to win this great accolade, local authorities have produced a kind of smörgåsbord menu – a whole agglomeration of all the big things local government has always wanted to achieve, plus the latest dishes du jour. Results based payments? Check. Infrastructure for economic development? Check (and not just York stone paving this time – see my forthcoming article on The York Stone Paving and Junction Treament Revolution of the late 1990s). Integration of public health, social care, and primary health? Check. Community investment bonds? Check. Reducing gang violence? Yes, it’s all there.

So – it’s doomed to fail (or, in the usual way of political initiatives, Doomed To Succeed, whatever happens in reality). Or… perhaps not. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something seems subtly different this time. Perhaps the way that the central government secondees – as well as being intelligent and well-educated, as we’d expect – are actually pragmatic and delivery-focused. Perhaps the way that everyone seems very open and aware about the limitations of their own organisations – and prepared to work their way around them. Perhaps the way – although the community budget manifestos contain the usual jumble of problem statements, assertions, and unproven hypothesis about pre-determined solutions – the people actually on the ground are drawing from a real evidence base! Perhaps because everyone’s had a dose of financial and political reality and is working out what it takes to sell new ideas and new ways of working to politicians, stakeholders and the like. Perhaps because there promises to be real networking and sharing of ideas between the councils involved.

And perhaps, in an odd sort of way, because of the one thing that central government omitted from the usual recipe this time around – the cash. That’s right – all these expectations, all these challenges, and  not even the tiniest ‘success percentage’. Sure, the Treasury might (though no one knows how it will be evaluated) make money available if there’s an invest-to-save or results-based payment or similar business model (but even the Treasury won’t look a gift horse in the mouth). So apart from some mild fanfare, a bunch of eager secondees, and some communications linkages, we’re all in this together. We have a bunch of bright people, some ideas worth testing, and a desire to change results for the better. So… just maybe… this time will be different.

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