Police lack back-office savings ambition

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Police lack back-office savings ambition

Karl Flinders

A report into areas where police forces can save money said a lack of ambition for back-office savings within police authorities could hold back value for money.

Despite the availability of shared services platforms and cloud computing only about 25% of chief constables believe any more savings can be made in the back office.

The report, Sustaining value for money in the police service, was put together by the Audit Commission, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Wales Audit Office.

The report concludes that police in England and Wales could save up to £1bn without reducing the availability of police. This would be 12% of government funding.

The report outlines where savings can be made.

In the year 2007/08 the police made a quarter of its total £224m savings through back-office cuts.

But the report said that police forces need to do more. "A lack of ambition for back-office savings is a barrier to achieving value for money," said the report. It said only a quarter of chief constables think there is potential for more back-office savings.

Each police authority traditionally has its own back-office processes such as HR and payroll. This means there is significant overlap across police authorities. There are 23,100 staff involved with the back office at the 40-plus police forces in England and Wales.

Suppliers such as Capgemini and Steria have created platforms to enable different police authorities to share back-office functions. Cleveland Police Authority recently became the first customer of Steria's shared service for police forces. It promises £50m savings over 10 years for Cleveland Police alone. As more authorities join the savings will get bigger.

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