16 December 2004 | Cara Whitehouse
If purchasers in the south west of England are unlucky enough to get breathalysed this Christmas, they can at least rest assured that best-practice procurement brought the units to the roadside.
As part of the region's anti-drink-driving campaign, Avon and Somerset police force has led a consortium of six constabularies in purchasing 1,365 hand-held breathalyser machines and consumables.
Jackie Hart, contracts officer at Avon and Somerset and a lead negotiator in the deal, told SM: "Operation Tonic, Avon and Somerset's drink-driving campaign which began this month, provided a motivation to drive our purchase through in time.
"Our contribution can help keep drinkers out of their cars this Christmas."
Other forces involved in negotiations were Devon and Cornwall, Kent, Gwent, Surrey and South Wales.
Avon and Somerset was chosen to lead because it previously led a consortium of eight forces in buying the larger, more sophisticated breathalysers used at police stations.
Hart said the deal was the first collaborative procurement for hand-held breathalysers by the force, which made a 52 per cent saving on its previous contract.
The deal also covers consumables, such as mouthpieces, which need to be replaced after each use. More are needed around Christmas time, when drink-drive campaigns kick in.
The savings enabled the constabulary to buy more breathalysers than in previous years and Avon and Somerset alone acquired 325 new machines through the three-year deal.
The contract was advertised in July and put out to tender in August. Prior to the collaborative purchase, forces would have sourced individually, often from single suppliers. Three suppliers from the UK, Germany and the US were chosen by a team comprising procurement and operational officers.
The multiple supplier agreement aims to encourage innovation and competition as well as manage the potential risk of supplies running short, said Hart.
Other forces across England and Wales will also be able to take advantage of the deal.
"We think other forces will contact us to be added in," said Mike Dunphy, head of purchasing and supply at Avon and Somerset.
He added: "It will save them on administration and money."
Transport secretary Alistair Darling launched this year's Christmas drink-driving campaign last week.
It features television, radio and cinema advertisements running now and into early January.
According to government figures, 560 people were killed in drink-drive related crashes in 2003, and 2,600 were seriously injured.