The Government set its heart on 43 Elected Commissioners being appointed to replace the existing police authorities. This was a poorly thought out strategy and the pathetic turn out for voting confirms the public apathy of the subject. As our previous reports have shown, 10 regional forces as opposed to 43 at present, would bring major benefits:-
The ACPO and SMT ranks could be reduced by as much as 75% (Basic salary costs are in the region of Â£230million)
10 regional HR departments (or even 1 central unit) would shave thousands of duplicated police staff roles, save millions and prevent the necessity for front line cuts. (Police staff costs were in the region of Â£2.6billion in 2009/10). This could be repeated for IT and other departments.
10 regional forces could save millions on an ongoing basis through centralised procurement of uniform, vehicles and other non staffing services. (Forces currently spend Â£2.7billion per year on non staffing costs).
10 regional forces would enable the more appropriate allocation of the reserve funds in force bank accounts amounting to Â£1.2billion which is coincidentally the amount forces are being asked to shave off their budget.
10 regional forces would require only 10 Locally Elected Police Commissioners instead of 43. Perhaps someone from the Government would explain why this rationale seems to have been overlooked or ignored? Or perhaps there are local authority jobs that are being protected rather than ensuring front line resources are ring fenced?
The pressures Chief Constables are under to deliver the Government cuts, is we fear, creating a somewhat short sighted approach. Without a more long term perspective that would save many millions or billions more, Chief Officers are forced to be parochial and consider only their own forces and how they will meet the Government demands. This could indeed have disasterous consequences to essential services, unecessarily in our view.
Perhaps this is a consequence of the 5 year administration system that compels a Government to want to be seen to be achieving something within that period, rather than implementing a longer term strategy that would be more effective?
Many of the cuts and savings could have been more effectively delivered by smarter volume central purchasing arrangements and sharing of resources. HR is an example. Why do 43 forces have 43 HR departments when massive savings could be achieved with one central HR function?
The same principle should be applied for all areas of procurement. Equipment and services sourced centrally would deliver millions in savings. HMIC predicted that Â£5billion could be saved by better procurement over a ten year period.
A few highlights from our previous report about the cuts are increasingly relevant:-
Any one or combination of these measures was always achievable without the decimation witnessed to front line resources. Any one of them would return hundreds if not thousands of officers to the front line where they are needed most. Yes there will be pain, but far better that than continue to risk the lives and safety of over stretched officers and members of the public who actually deserve a better quality of service. The first challenge for the new Home Secretary and her team, is to root out those senior officers who have been singing off their own self serving hymn sheets for far too long.
- Police Force Governance â€“ remove ACPO & PCC's SAVE ??? Millions
- Police Force Mergers â€“ saving predicted by HMIC Â£2.25billion (over 10 years)
- Chief Officer Restructuring â€“ consolidation of ACPO ranks SAVE Â£11million
- Chief Officer Restructuring â€“ consolidation of SMT ranks SAVE Â£80million
- Remove Chief Supt & Chief Inspector ranks (alternative to mergers) SAVE Â£12million
- Increase constable to manager ratio (recruitment cost savings) SAVE Â£169million
- Increase sergeant to inspector ratio SAVE Â£178million
- If ratio of 1 frontline staff to every officer of management rank SAVE Â£1billion
- Police staff levels halved through mergers SAVE Â£1.3billion
- Police staff overtime halved by mergers or tighter control SAVE Â£31million
- Return 25% of office based police officers to frontline (recruitment savings) SAVE Â£670million
- 25% reduction in police staff support numbers SAVE Â£500million