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Private Partnerships Save Millions

Lincolnshire DCC says police jobs will actually be saved – not lost, as more forces look into proposals to use private companies in policing

Using private firms to help deliver policing services can save millions of pounds and safeguard frontline jobs, a force which is launching its own outsourcing initiative says.

Lincolnshire DCC Neil Rhodes (pictured) says his force is set to save £28 million over 10 years as the result of a contract with security firm, G4S - a saving of just under £3 million a year.

Government cuts mean that police forces are facing 20 per cent reductions in their budgets over a four year period.

¬We weren’t going to do it (making savings to the budget) by trimming and shaving the edges.¬

Surrey and West Midlands are the latest forces to announce they are looking into a public-private partnership, a proposal which has already received heavy criticism from opposition politicians and staff associations.

But DCC Rhodes, whose force is set to go live with its plan on April 1, said police jobs had to be safeguarded and using private companies could help do that.

Faced with a £19.7 million budget gap until 2015 as part of government cuts, the force pushed through the procurement process as quickly as it could.

DCC Rhodes said: “We had a very, very aggressive procurement process and we went from gun to tape in nine months.

“Surrey and West Midlands are taking on a more traditional time scale – they spent over a year researching the position and it is only recently that they issued the notice (in the European Journal).

“They are adopting a different approach to us.”

West Midlands has already said that it if such a proposal gets the go ahead it would not be in place until 2013/14 at the earliest.

DCC Rhodes added: “We weren’t going to do it (making savings to the budget) by trimming and shaving the edges.

“We were convinced this could yield real, considerable savings, and we needed to get through the procurement process in a very strict time to start filling the budget with savings.”

The contract with Lincolnshire, which is worth more than £200 million over ten years, will see G4S take over middle and back office functions in the force including Finance, HR, ICT and Asset and Facilities Management.

Custody and emergency call room staff will also be provided by G4S, widely acknowledged as the world’s biggest security company, under the direction of a police inspector and regular officers.

As part of the contract, the force also has the option of a brand new police station being built in Lincoln City Centre and a new custody suite. An off-site secure data centre, to replace the current on-site server room for command and control, is also set to be built.

DCC Rhodes rubbished national media reports suggesting G4S would run the new police station.

He said the station, which would be built by G4S and save around £5 million in running costs, would only have its maintenance looked after by the company.

He said: “They may be responsible for running the central heating but not policing.”

Lincolnshire, like Surrey and West Midlands forces have done recently, started its tender process by putting a notice in the Official Journal of European Union (OJEU).

It then staged a “bidders’ day” where 131 private companies came and showed interest. The force received 15 expressions of interest which were eventually reduced to five before only two made the final cut. Lincolnshire Police Authority then gave final approval following the evaluation of a scrutiny panel.

DCC Rhodes said he was optimistic about the future of the partnership and that the decision was taken for the good of policing and officer numbers.

He emphasized: “The whole of this is based upon the need to make the savings – to invest on the frontline, to ensure police officer numbers and PCSO numbers are retained.

“It goes some way towards bridging the funding gap. If we weren’t able to do that it would impact on police officer numbers.”

Click here to see how Lincolnshire Police went to tender and found a private company to work with.

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