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26 November 2012 | Anna Reynolds
The police should share back office functions with councils and other emergency services to free up officers to the front line, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
In its report Transforming policing through partnership, the business organisation found there are still 6,600 police officers carrying out HR, finance, procurement and IT roles, which could be transferred to independent providers to improve efficiency and allow more officers to be on the beat.
The report calls on the newly elected police and crime commissioners to reform procurement processes by purchasing products or sharing services at a regional and national level. The CBI also identified other duties that could be performed by independent providers, such as fleet management, forensics, interpreting services and training.
The organisation recommended the Home Office should identify which functions do not require officers to support them and that all police forces should open up back office services to competition by independent providers.
Police forces in England and Wales have had to adapt to a 20 per cent reduction in funding, to be effective by 2015. Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director, said in statement: “Like all public services, the police force is under significant pressure to maintain the quality of its service while meeting necessary budget cuts, so carrying on as normal is not an option.
“The police force can also benefit from the independent sector’s investment in cutting edge technology to tackle new challenges such as cyber-crime and fraud.”
The report looked at shared services used by Essex Police, which has collaborated with neighbouring councils on software provision and information sharing, saving £1.7 million.
Furthermore, the report said the Independent Police Complaints Commission should be expanded to cover all independent providers to ensure accountability and the CBI urged for a requirement on all forces to update Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary with progress of service reform.