Advertorial: West Country Police Forces Make Savings & Improve Efficiency By Working In Collaboration With Securitas
November 2012 Since the Governments announcement in October 2010 that central funding to the Police would be reduced by 20% between March 2011 and March 2015, Police budgets have been under extra scrutiny.
Since the Governments announcement in October 2010 that central funding to the Police would be reduced by 20 per cent between March 2011 and March 2015, police budgets have been under extra scrutiny.
Recent reports and comments from government and senior police authorities have suggested that working with private partnerships may offer a way for forces to manage budget restrictions while maintaining high levels of service. Some have questioned how these can work, but one example in the South West shows the potential that partnerships can offer police forces across the UK.
A collaborative arrangement between Securitas and Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Devon and Cornwall Police has resulted in crime scene guarding being provided by the UKs leading specialist security company at around 75 per cent less than it would cost the police to action. It also has the added benefit of releasing officers back onto frontline duties to carry out key roles, including law enforcement, fighting crime and protecting the public.
The police force is no stranger to working alongside private organisations in order to improve the effectiveness of its back office roles. A working relationship with the Avon and Somerset and Devon and Cornwall forces has been in place since 2008, with a wide range of services being provided, including the management of custody suites and escorting prisoners.
The West Country forces could see that savings would be made by using an outside security specialist to guard crime scenes and that their officers would then be free to investigate and combat crime to the maximum benefit of their communities.
Having unsuccessfully run a trial of the idea with a local company, Avon and Somerset and Devon and Cornwall approached Securitas to take on the task of providing crime scene guards (CSGs) on behalf of their major crime investigation units.
Members of the Securitas CSG team, which will number around 100 individuals by the end of 2012, all undergo a comprehensive training programme conducted by the police force and are vetted to police standards before taking on a role in the field. The training is delivered by CID and crime scene experts and covers all the situations that might be encountered during crime scene guarding, as well as the structure of the police force, compliance issues, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) requirements and dealing with the media and general public.
When a CSG is required, the police contact the Securitas national control room in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, giving details of their requirements, the location of the crime scene and the number of guards needed. Securitas then passes the information on to their relevant local office during the day or duty manager at night and at weekends, and aims to supply the CSGs within four hours of receiving a request.
According to Mike Clancy, South West Regional Director at Securitas: We follow a strict set of procedures which have been set down and agreed with Avon and Somerset and Devon and Cornwall police forces. I am delighted to say that we have a 98 per cent success rate in getting to the scene of the crime within our four-hour response window, allowing officers to return to front line activity.
A senior investigating officer defines the crime scene and the Securitas guards are tasked with controlling access and egress to and from that area, maintaining a log of arrivals and departures, patrolling perimeters if necessary, and keeping the press and media at bay. Crime scenes have related to serious offences including homicide, rape and major drugs raids.
Wearing a bespoke black uniform with hi-vis coat or waistcoat marked Crime Scene Guard, Securitas team members are differentiated from police officers, while still retaining an air of authority in the eyes of the general public.
Mr Clancy added: Any initial reservations within the police force that the private sector might be trying to take away its jobs ha