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BlueLight Commercial identifies £1.3bn in 'joined up' procurement

The way forces procure kit and equipment is set for a radical reset aimed at saving millions of pounds.

BlueLight Commercial has unveiled ambitious plans to overhaul the policing supply chain.

The procurement management organisation, set up initially with Home Office funding, wants to give forces identical supply chain systems and a single set of operating standards for commercial activities.

Details, set out in its annual plan for 2021/22, revealed a shift in direction just a year after going live. Its remit is widening to cover not only bigger procurement frameworks on vehicle fleets and kit but also on staff training and process improvements.

The initial aim was to save forces £20m a year to go back into frontline policing.

Its ambition has grown to become a “trusted partner” that is also supporting corporate services and supply chain risk management.

It aims to achieve this through an organisation of approximately 45 professionals, structured around an operating model that delivers both pillar and regional support to forces. It’s similar to the model being developed for forensic services through the Forensic Capability Network (FCN).

Overseeing the organisation's work is the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

One critical piece of work is the online procurement programme to create a single platform for police and fire services. The current e-tendering system contract is set to expire at the end of March 2022. BlueLight Commercial is taking the lead on the replacement national framework on behalf of policing and the Fire Service.

The new specification will incorporate both e-sourcing and contracts management functionality which will drive efficiencies from using common software, improve the user experience and reduce risk.

Early discussions are also under way to look at energy procurement to not only save cash but reduce carbon footprint.

Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott is Chair of BlueLight Commercial and has taken on a significant amount of the development work for the organisation.

Mr Scott told Police Oracle: “The desire for closer collaboration means that now is definitely the right time to progress this.”

He added: “We’ve identified about £1.3bn of taxpayers’ money that policing spends that we believe could benefit from joining up our commercial activity.

“This will support frontline officers and staff in getting the equipment and support they need in the fight against crime and antisocial behaviour, boost the skills of our procurement and commercial teams and present one voice to the market,” he said.

The plan for the next year will be crucial to confirming the organisation's credibility to convince forces it can deliver on early successes.

Mr Scott said BlueLight Commercial already has the crucial buy-in at the top of the service and must now show the benefits to finance and procurement teams.

“It comes with a strong mandate of support from PCCs, Chief Constables and the Home Office as well as the support of new members who have joined this year,” Mr Scott said. “This momentum I believe is already having a positive impact as the company is being asked to do further work by police forces and the Home Office above and beyond its original plans.”

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