By Local Democracy Reporter
ESSEX Police has pledged no jobs will be lost under a plan to pool procurement resources between six other police forces in a bid to reduce costs.
The 7 Force Collaboration Programme – made up of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk Essex and Kent say they are seeking to enhance frontline services by promoting efficiencies though a joint procurement system.
Essex has seen overall crime increase by 11.2 per cent during 2017/18 compared to 15.3 per cent (to December 2017) nationally and a 8.7 per cent increase in 2016/17.
These ongoing pressures have grown as funding in real terms has continued to be restrained.
Due to a number of challenges including a historically low precept and the current funding formula, Essex Police remains the tightest funded police force in the country with a budget of £277.4m for 2018-19 – financed approximately two thirds by Government grant and one third by council tax.
An extra £7.5 million is being raised through a council tax increase, to fund an additional 150 front line officers in Essex.
Members of the Essex Police, Fire and Crime panel have approved police, fire and crime commissioner Roger Hirst’s proposal, that will result in the recruitment of 150 more officers primarily for local policing teams – bringing the total number of officers to at least 3,000 by 2019.
Three quarters of all the additional money raised from the increased police precept from council tax is being invested in local policing.
The increase follows a survey in which approximately 65 per cent of people said they would be prepared to see council tax increased by more than two per cent.
Significant work has been undertaken to analyse the contracts that exist between the seven forces, to establish those that could deliver benefits through an aggregation of spend.
At a summit in July the 7F team presented the business case proposals for a 7F single procurement function – proposing Kent and Essex as the lead partnership.
Roger Hirst said: “This is part of our on-going efforts to ensure policing is as efficient and effective as it can be – we have made more than £75m savings so far, and will continue to push for more each year, as should any good organisation.
“We are not looking to downsize in any way; this is about having the resources to invest in the front line and make sure Essex Police service is as good as it can be.”
A spokesman for Essex Police said: “The seven police forces in our region spend over £207m every year on buying goods and services ranging from helmets to note books to IT equipment.
“Working together on how we buy those products means we will have much more spending power than we currently have.
“Our work will make sure we wring the benefit from every penny of taxpayers’ money, keeping more of it to support the front line.
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