South West Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables
Police forces in the South West have agreed to pursue a new regional forensic services collaboration, aiming to provide a new streamlined state-of-the-art service at a lower cost.
Phase 1 of the scheme looks at Fingerprint Bureaux, Chemical Enhancement Laboratories and Forensic Submissions Units. The proposals could initially save the five forces involved – Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Dorset and Wiltshire – a total of around £1.9 million.
The collaboration programme, led by Dorset Police, has been given the green light at a South West regional meeting of Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables, hosted at the Portishead police headquarters of Avon and Somerset yesterday, Wednesday 27 November 2013.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “This is another important development for regional collaboration and working towards providing more efficient and effective services whilst helping us achieve the savings that are required.
“I am delighted that Avon and Somerset continue to work closely with Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Dorset and I am inspired by the enthusiasm for collaboration in the South West helping us to continue to deliver what matters to local people.”
The decision follows several months of negotiation between the forces as part of their efforts to reduce budgets and increase efficiency for the future. It will mean forces sharing systems and services and adopting a similar process to inter force systems already in place in other parts of the UK.
Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Nick Gargan said the current cost of forensic services across the five forces is almost £11 million.
“This programme will enable us to reduce that cost by £1.9 million, enabling every force involved, to preserve front line officer numbers that might otherwise have had to be reduced.
“When forces work together and share costs they can consistently improve the service they provide and at a reduced cost,” said the chief constable.
The decision to collaborate follows several months of negotiation between the forces in an effort to reduce budgets and increase efficiency for the future. It will mean forces sharing systems and services and adopting a similar process to inter force systems already in place in other parts of the UK.
The current total cost of the Phase 1 forensic services across the five forces is £10.8m, with the initial potential savings identified from the proposals standing at £1.9m.
However by 2018-19 it is forecast that savings from the collaborative project could be as high as £6.6m.
As part of the plans, the new service will be headed up by a Head of Forensic Services for the South West region.
The new arrangements will complement existing regional initiatives such as Zephyr (the dedicated team set up to combat serious organised crime); Special Branch; and Regional Procurement.
This collaboration programme will now continue to look at Phase 2, Digital Forensics, and Phase 3, Crime Scene Investigation, during 2014.
Posted on Thursday 28th November 2013