Partnering for transformation

As the policing landscape continues to take shape under the control of police and crime commissioners, John Torrie makes the case for new partnership models in support of ICT-enabled police transformation.

Oct 9, 2013
By Paul Jacques
Lisa Townsend

As the policing landscape continues to take shape under the control of police and crime commissioners, John Torrie makes the case for new partnership models in support of ICT-enabled police transformation.

With last year’s election of police and crime commissioners (PCCs), the role of the public in policing has been firmly underlined. Each new PCC is establishing a template for shaping policing in their respective communities and it is now becoming clearer how they intend to fairly represent both the citizen and the police to deliver a modern police service.

What is evident is the need for all forces to continue on the path to transformation. Over the past 24 months, UK policing has risen to the challenge of the Comprehensive Spending Review 2010 (CSR) and the global recession. Forces have looked at what they can do to drive out savings and have completed a first phase of transformation by making existing processes more efficient. Some forces have already made the first steps towards partnering with private companies for the delivery of non-core services and enabling information and communications technology (ICT).

Having completed some initial transformation projects and in readiness for CSR 2014, forces are now looking to a second phase of transformation. They are examining the way policing is delivered and asking whether there are different ways of doing things, with more of them now considering partnerships. As a recognised technology and business support partner to many UK forces, Steria is a firm believer in the value of public-private partnerships.

Partnering with the private sector will enable the police to focus on the key reasons officers hold a warrant card.

I believe they will play an important part in ensuring the guiding ‘Peelian Principles’ for all forces are as valid today as they’ve ever been. How? By reducing the administrative burden on frontline officers and allowing senior officers to focus on policing rather than on running support services.

What type of partner?

Different types of partnerships will be adopted as the PCCs strive to balance increasingly tight budgets with operational need. Where one PCC might explore collaboration with a neighbouring force, another could look at how to join up the end-to-end justice process. This might also involve a private sector partner, for example, running the criminal justice case management function or redesigning business processes for the end-to-end custody processes and case file preparation.

Another partnering approach described in the Policing 2020 report by the Policy Exchange’s Crime and Justice Unit is that of ‘mutuals’. The report says: “The introduction of employee ownership into police back and middle office functions would see a greater level of productivity…” While a move towards mutuals is still at an embryonic stage in the public sector, employee shareholder ownership is not new to the private sector.

Elsewhere, as a direct result of the strengthening ‘localism agenda’, closer ties will continue to be forged with other public sector and third sector agencies. These will drive transformational savings and improvements in frontline service delivery, particularly in areas that could benefit from a more coordinated, multi-service response, such as, problem families and reintegrating offenders into the community.

Public-private partnerships

There are commercially-driven relationships that are already a feature of modern policing. It is true that not all people feel comfortable with the idea of using private sector companies in policing, but as the Policing 2020 report notes: “With tight financial circumstances unlikely to loosen over the next decade, PCCs will need to consider all possible options – including working with private businesses.”

Only a year or so ago, the single most prescribed route for cost-savings and efficiency improvement was to outsource. Today, however, the thinking has moved on and the partnership model is evolving.

Partnering models

What does not change

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