PCCs pull plug on second police outsourcing plan
Decision raises questions as to how forces can achieve necessary savings by collaboration alone
A second police outsourcing or business partnering plan has been shelved following the appointment of police and crime commissioners.
Following the ending of the West Midlands force's business partnering plans in November, now police and crime commissioners (PCCs) for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire - and their chief constables - have said they will not proceed with further work exploring the Lincolnshire Police outsourcing framework, with G4S as the supplier, for the delivery of the three forces' organisational support services.
The move calls into question how the three forces will now make up a £73m shortfall in funding. Last year, it was suggested that although the three forces work closely together to actively share services, shared services alone would not deliver sufficient savings.
Olly Martins, the PCC for Bedfordshire, who stood in the PCC elections on an anti-outsourcing platform, said after a meeting to discuss the plans in Welwyn Garden City last night: "The concerns that I had about this proposal are on record but I am pleased that following the evaluation and subsequent discussions the three Police and Crime Commissioners have ended up in agreement with a shared view that this contract does not deliver what we need."
"However, we do still have to save money. Strengthening the ways in which we collaborate with Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire is a crucial element of our on-going investment in all our police services. I now look forward to working with my fellow commissioners to develop new and innovative ways in which we can progress our collaborative approach."
Chief Constable Andy Bliss from Hertfordshire Constabulary said: "My focus remains on continuing to fight crime and deliver a great policing service, yet dealing with the challenge of making significant savings. I shall be working very closely with David Lloyd, the Police and Crime Commissioner, as we now look at all possible options to ensure that we jointly maximise the efficient use of every pound spent on policing in Hertfordshire."
Sir Graham Bright, Cambridgeshire PCC, has said the PCCs are now starting to look at alternatives to the Lincolnshire deal. It is believed that Hertfordshire PCC David Lloyd still favours outsourcing, while Bright this week insisted that, "None of us are against outsourcing or sharing with each other, or indeed other counties, but it's got to be done piece by piece," he said.
Bedfordshire Chief Constable Alf Hitchcock commented: "As an Alliance we have been working together to explore a range of options for making savings at a time when all three forces are facing significant financial challenges. The potential option of outsourcing our Organisational Support services via the Lincolnshire Police and G4S framework was one such avenue that it was right to fully explore. Having considered this specific framework carefully, we have decided not to proceed."
"Along with my Chief Constable colleagues in Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire and the three Commissioners, we are continuing to explore other opportunities, whilst in Bedfordshire we are using the Option 10 and 'Lean' processes to achieve savings in house and protect front line policing."
The Lincolnshire/G4S framework, which was awarded following a competitive process, was initially established to meet the specific requirements of Lincolnshire Police. It also afforded named forces, including Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, the opportunity to contract with G4S without the additional cost and delay arising from a new procurement process.
West Midlands PCC Bob Jones scrapped the West Midlands force's business partnering plans shortly after his election in November, saying there was a "certain lack of clarity as to what [the programme] would have done - there wasn't a proper business case from the start."
Paul Ridgewell, senior analyst at Kable said, "While the move is not entirely unexpected, the three forces have yet to state how they plan to make up the significant shortfall in their funding. Given the scale of the fiscal challenges facing these forces, as well as all forces nationally, it is apparent that the need for radical cost savings measures remains acute. While a number of PCCs campaigned on a ticket of opposition to "police outsourcing" it is nonetheless likely still that unpalatable measures will need to be taken in the next one to two years."