Police chief backs ‘seven force’ collaboration
Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner has backed a cost-cutting partnership between seven forces to deliver savings despite concerns over the effectiveness of collaborations.
A report into police force collaborations across the country found that too many lacked purpose or a clear objective.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary said it was unable to establish if the Seven Force (7F) collaboration involving Suffolk was achieving anticipated savings.
Inspector of constabulary Matt Parr said forces spent more than a £250m on collaboration each year across the country, adding: “Ultimately, collaborations can improve the service that forces give to the public. But too many are failing, or not giving the results they should, costing forces money, time and effort.”
In 2015, a strategic collaboration programme was signed by Suffolk and six other forces in the East of England, with an annual budget of £1.35m agreed for the project, which has identified pipeline savings of £11m from single procurement, as well as £10m in enterprise resource planning and IT convergence.
The report called 7F highly ambitious, and aware of the importance of having a clear purpose, saying the collaboration had certainly achieved savings, including £156,000 by cutting seven chief firearms officers to one across all forces.
However, the report added: “The 7F received central funding to initiate its work in identifying opportunities for joint working across the East of England. But this doesn’t seem to have been reviewed, and we do not believe there is a comprehensive understanding of whether its work has provided the expected benefits.”
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner and 7F chairman, Tim Passmore said he was optimistic the collaboration would secure benefits for all, adding: “It’s early days, but I do believe we need to work with others to identify savings greater than we would achieve alone.”
He said a single procurement function, agreed last year, enabled the forces to take advantage of bulk-buying discounts on everything from police vehicles to uniform and stationery.
“The combined purchasing power for goods and services is significant so I am confident this collaboration project will make savings and support the UK economy,” he added.
“Reducing the chief firearms instructor role from seven to one is a very obvious example of the potential that collaboration can achieve and I look forward to working with our neighbouring forces to turn similar opportunities into savings.
“Every penny saved helps us protect frontline policing and I don’t think anyone would argue against that.”
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