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Three forces agree to progress further collaboration proposals

Collaboration across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire (BCH) took a step forward yesterday (13 October) when the three forces agreed to progress Full Business Cases (FBCs) for Custody, Criminal Justice and ICT.

The Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) for the three forces met at a Strategic Alliance Summit where they also reached agreement on a Business Case to collaborate their Information Management Department (IMD) functions.

In addition to potentially saving millions of pounds in an effort to meet a predicted £62m funding gap between now and 2019/20, collaboration offers BCH the opportunity to further improve and refine police services to better fight crime and protect local communities.

For Criminal Justice this focus is on fully supporting victims and witnesses whilst ensuring every offender is brought to justice as swiftly as possible. To achieve this, processes and policies will be standardised and streamlined across BCH according to best practice. Greater use of technology such as electronic witness statements (EWS) and digital storage solutions will help modernise the service.

Criminal Justice collaboration has been divided into two phases in line with new technology, expected to be introduced across the three forces in the early part of next year. Phase one affects the teams responsible for Typing Services, Tape Library functions, Policy and Performance, and Virtual Courts. By improving storage facilities and the timely submission of evidential case material to the Crown Prosecution Service, the length of trials could be reduced.

Under the Custody proposals, around £1m will be saved within two years of implementation by aligning and streamlining Custody processes across BCH. Adopting common working practices would help free up staff time to focus more on detainees, ensuring each person is seen as promptly as possible and that their individual needs are catered for. It would also ensure Custody staff are able to undertake additional training to ensure their skills are as up to date as possible.

The Custody proposals are based on best practice, taking into account the needs of detainees and staff as well as statutory obligations, other police forces’ approaches and the expectations of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) and the College of Policing’s Authorised Professional Practice (APP).

Custody estate will not be affected by the proposals, though collaboration does not preclude the possibility of further changes being made by individual forces to meet local demand. Both the collaborated Custody and Criminal Justice units will be overseen by a single, centralised senior management team.

In addition, as the forces move forward with collaboration the creation of a single ICT department will ensure that there is a consistent approach to ICT service delivery to enable day-to-day delivery of policing. IMD collaboration aims to provide more efficient, effective and consistent organisational support across BCH that complies with national guidance and legislation.

Sir Graham Bright, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire, said: “This announcement marks the latest milestone in our long term strategy to improve the resilience of the three forces and to make the savings needed to balance the books. By working to the same high standards in the same way we improve both our efficiency and our effectiveness, pooling resources and cutting out duplication. It will also make it easier for people across the three counties to communicate with us I am delighted that our collaboration with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire is proving so fruitful.  We will now consult with staff before making a final decision.”

Chief Constable Alec Wood said: “I welcome yesterday’s agreements as part of the necessary step that collaboration will help us take to meet our financial challenges. Additionally, the collaboration will provide Cambridgeshire with much needed additional resilience and will enable greater efficiencies to be made in the future. I recognise that yesterday’s agreement will result in some staff becoming at risk of losing their jobs and we will do everything to support them through this difficult period.”

Staff working within Custody, Criminal Justice, ICT and Information Management across the three forces will be formally consulted with in the coming months before final decisions regarding collaboration are made.


Notes to Editors

For further information please contact Louise Lloyd-Jones, BCH Change Communications Officer, on 07710 966583.

In December 2013, the three Police and Crime Commissioners signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ to proceed with collaboration in the areas of Organisational Support (e.g.: IMD and ICT) and Operational Support (e.g.: Criminal Justice and Custody).

Extensive scoping work has highlighted the advantages that collaboration can deliver to meet the challenges the police forces continue to face whilst protecting frontline policing and service delivery as much as possible.

The ambitious Strategic Alliance between the three forces and the Police and Crime Commissioners is an ongoing programme of work focusing on collaboration as an effective way of protecting frontline policing while meeting the predicted funding shortfall. By 2019, it is anticipated that a wide range of further joint operational and organisational support functions will have been established to bring economies of scale and increased resilience.