The Home Office has now published the third ‘basket of goods’ data set allowing the public to compare what each police force spends on common items to ensure best value for money. With Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) spending almost a quarter of their overall budgets on goods and services involving third party suppliers, the exercise highlights the most recent prices paid for goods such as police helmets, shirts and vehicles.
Most of the savings from this year’s figures result from the Collaborative Law Enforcement Programme (CLEP), led by police forces and designed to identify opportunities for collaboration. For example, forces across Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire bought uniforms together to halve the cost of their fleeces from £32.95 to £15.95. Four forces in Yorkshire – namely South Yorkshire Police, North Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Police and Humberside Police – have also worked together to reduce the prices of vehicles by up to £10,000 per vehicle between 2016 and 2017.
Other highlights from this year’s statistics include the Metropolitan Police Service reducing the cost of jackets by over 63%, Leicestershire Police cutting the cost of fleeces by over 61%, 60% reductions in the cost of utility belts (Norfolk and Suffolk Police) and shirts (Lincolnshire Police) and Nottinghamshire Police reducing the cost of its telephone interpretation service by almost 50% while delivering the same quality.
Investment from the taxpayer
Nick Hurd, Minister for Police and Fire in the Conservative Government, said: “This year, taxpayers will be investing an additional £460 million in our police system. They do not expect the police to waste their money through inefficient procurement. I congratulate the police service on impressive progress in recent years designed to squeeze out inefficiency. However, these numbers show that the work is not complete. We will continue to work with the police to make sure that the taxpayer is obtaining value for money.”
Chief constable Dave Thompson, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead for finance, said: “We have already delivered substantial procurement savings and identified another £100 million of savings over the next three years. While there are considerable challenges to overcome in more complex areas of procurement, we continue to work hard to find further efficiencies and provide the best possible service to the public.”
Jason Ablewhite PCC, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ lead for business enablers and chair of the National Commercial Board, added: “I very much welcome the work of Police and Crime Commissioners, forces and others to deliver significant savings from more effective procurement. The CLEP has been very active in supporting forces, including through standardisation and aggregation in areas such as uniforms and vehicles. We will continue to identify further opportunities to make substantial savings for policing, including through more complex areas such as construction and, where appropriate, trying to support national sourcing approaches. The public rightly expects policing to be as efficient as possible and, through the National Commercial Board, which oversees the work of the CLEP, we will be looking at the options for a future commercial operating model to ensure greater co-ordination of commercial activity at a regional and national level.”
New areas of discrepancies
Featuring previously unrecorded items, this year’s ‘basket of goods’ identifies new areas of discrepancies in the spending on goods and services, including police push bikes (with costs ranging from £279 to as high as £539 per bike) and police motor cycle helmets, with some forces paying £291 and others £656.
The data collected on the new items will be used to highlight areas where police forces could work together to procure equipment in a more collaborative and cost-effective way. The Government will work with the sector to ensure that this is the case going forward.
The new figures also reveal areas which have worsened year-on-year. These include credit reports, with a 262% rise in median spend across forces. Median spend has also been raised for goods such as belts (21%), batons (11%) and handcuffs (6%).
Although the cost of an item isn’t the only consideration and maintaining quality is also an important factor, forces themselves have recognised there’s more to do and have committed to delivering a further £100 million of procurement savings over the next three years.