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Shared Services Initiative ‘Is Outsourcing Alternative’

Multi-force scheme aims to streamline back office support functions while retaining accountability and control

A shared service partnership between two forces and a private company has been hailed as an alternative to outsourcing by “providing support services by police, for the police”.

The partnership, between Cheshire Constabulary and Northamptonshire Police with a specialised software package delivered and supported by Capgemini, provides an internal system via the forces’ intranet that encompasses payroll, accounting, purchasing and HR services.

The system furnishes officers with a personalised section through the intranet where they can complete their expenses online, order uniform from an online shop and check their HR records for annual leave and sickness absence. This, it is claimed, reduces bureaucracy and speeds up decision-making processes.

It is hoped the system will be developed further to incorporate duty management rostering – including automated overtime processing and administration.

This will not only allow officers to see their duty roster online, but will also allow staff in the control room to see everyone who is on duty in the force at that time and deploy the officer with the relevant skills set and experience to an incident. It could help more efficient rostering with a mix of skills and expertise on duty.

Explaining the partnership, Cheshire DCC Helen King (pictured) told delegates at Capita’s recent Transformation in the Police conference in central London that the venture allowed both forces to retain the responsibility of governance and ownership rather than an outsourcing arrangement with a private partner.

She said: “It is about providing back office services by the police, for the police.

“It is the IT that leads this change that changes the process which results in savings.

“This is a unique partnership which allows for better information use within the force, you know where your resources are and you can make better decisions.

“We have been able to nurture our own expertise and by doing it this way you get more commitment from people because they are doing something for the greater good.

“You get so many gains by doing it yourself.”

The partnership, which operates from a shared service transactional hub in Cheshire, has a payroll processing centre in Northamptonshire. DCC King said other forces had already expressed interest in adopting the model

She told PoliceOracle.com: “This is not outsourcing – we are doing it for ourselves and we built in expertise from Capgemini.

“You cannot outsource your reputation. I wanted to retain the governance and ownership because it is my organisation’s reputation and it is the reputation that is vital.

“You get to retain the savings and I want to take the savings to protect the line and drive forward initiatives rather than satisfy profit margins of a private company. The savings are helping us to meet the budget cuts.

“It is about trusting officers more with more responsibility for certain things as well as protecting the frontline.”

The service has the potential to incorporate fleet management, IT business systems, estates, facilities and corporate communications.

Looking to the future DCC King added: “We don’t know where this will be in the long-term.

“More forces will come on board and we may end up with regional hubs but we have control of our own destiny.”

For more information about shared services visit www.multiforcesharedservice.co.uk or email Karen.watkins@cheshire.pnn.police.uk.

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