Current police procurement is “clearly inefficient” and could benefit dramatically from consulting experts on specialist equipment at the College of Policing, according to MPs.
A report from the Home Affairs Committee criticised the fact no central advice is given by the College on procurement or technical specifications and said it was particularly surprised no advice was given on procuring new equipment such as body-worn cameras.
Overall, the report added, police procurement could gain obvious savings through collaboration between forces or centralising procurement.
“It appears a waste that leading experts on specialist equipment are under one roof at the College of Policing but that they are not involved in advising forces on which equipment they use,” said the committee.
The College of Policing was launched in December 2012 to develop knowledge and standards among police officers and staff in England and Wales.
“It is astonishing, not just that forces cannot agree common standards for procurement, but that such a situation arises in the first place,” continued the committee.
The report, a review of the College's first three years, added that it was “self-evident that equipment should be standardised across policing because it could reduce purchasing and training costs and increase interoperability when forces work together”.
As a minimum the report argued the College should have an advisory role in the procurement of specialist equipment.
“We welcome the efforts of those forces that do collaborate on procurement but much more progress is required if standardisation of equipment and greater value for money is to be achieved,” it said.
If there are no improvements by 2017 the committee may give the College of Policing a more central role in police procurement, for example by specifying which equipment forces should be purchasing, it added.
Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation, said: “The College of Policing plays an important role in setting standards throughout the service, not just behaviourally, but for recruitment, training, procurement and more.
“And they don’t have an easy task. They are a national body overseeing something that isn’t a national organisation. Our current structure of 43 forces does nothing to help the College in their difficult task to promote and ensure consistency.”
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