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Police Look To Save £20m A Year

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2:02pm 24th April 2012

After Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Forces stopped individual control of many of their operations - the forces say more joint-working with Cambridgeshire - could save them £20m every year in future.

Currently savings of more than £2m per year are starting to be delivered following the establishment of three joint functions for Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary this month, as the Strategic Alliance between the three forces and police authorities continues to strengthen.

At the start of April, a joint Scientific Services Unit was established, providing a dynamic forensic capability across the Strategic Alliance's forces. This was followed by the implementation of a joint Armed Policing Unit, forming one large team providing armed policing support across the three counties. Thirdly a joint Major Crime Unit was established, which will investigate cases of murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, kidnap and extortion and undertake any other major enquiries for each of the three forces. Three-force Procurement and Professional Standards (the unit which safeguards standards) functions have already been established over the past 12 months.

The ambitious Strategic Alliance between the three forces and police authorities is an on-going programme of work which is helping the three forces meet unprecedented financial challenges over the next few years and reduce the impact of budget cuts.

By 2015, it is anticipated that a wide range of further joint operational functions and support services will have been established, saving around £20m per year and bringing economies of scale and increased resilience. The only areas of policing that are not being considered for joint working are local policing (incident response, neighbourhood policing and volume crime investigation) as these need to be tailored to local priorities of communities and styles of delivery, and functions which are best delivered in partnership with locally based agencies.

Alf Hitchcock, Bedfordshire Police's Chief Constable told Mix 96: "The operational and financial advantages of joining specialist units together have been proven in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. Making this a three-force enterprise adds to that operational resilience. Collaboration plays a key role in the force being able to meet its national commitments for policing."

Chair of Bedfordshire Police Authority, Peter Conniff, added: "The long running, and highly successful, approach to collaboration in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire is further enhanced by the three-way Strategic Alliance with Cambridgeshire. We expect these three new units alone to bring savings in the region of £2.3m per year, alongside greater capacity and resilience in key areas of policing. As a result the level of savings that must be delivered by the local policing service in our local communities is significantly reduced."

Scientific Services Unit:

The unit will operate from a number of locations across all three forces, with its command centre being based at Sandy in Bedfordshire. The unit will undertake a wide range of crucial functions for the three forces in support of operational policing, including forensic deployment at scenes of crime, forensic intelligence and casework, a fingerprint service, processing of criminal justice DNA, photography, chemical lab and audio visual work. The unit is set to save the three forces in the region of £1.1m per year.

The Head of Scientific Services is Dick Johnson, who commented: "It is a privilege to lead the Scientific Services Unit into this new era. Significant focus is being placed nationally on quality standards and our unit is playing a leading role in driving this work."

Armed Policing Unit:

The new unit will see officers policing mostly within their respective force boundaries, but provides the capability for them to deploy across all three forces when necessary. They will be based at each of the three forces' headquarters sites (at Kempston in Bedfordshire, Hinchingbrooke in Cambridgeshire and Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire). The unit's training site will be based at Kempston in Bedfordshire. The creation of an Armed Policing Unit for the three forces will save in the region of £540,000.

The Head of the Armed Policing Unit is Chief Superintendent Nigel Trippett. Nigel commented: "Working collaboratively across three forces brings us increased resilience across the three counties at times of peak demand and well as cutting costs."

Major Crime Unit:

The unit will be based at two of the forces' headquarters and will save in the region of £700,000 per year for the three forces, with officers and staff deployed across the two sites.

The Head of the Major Crime Unit is Detective Superintendent Jeff Hill, who was previously Head of Cambridgeshire Constabulary's Major Incident Team. Jeff commented: "The collaboration of the unit means we have pulled together a wealth of knowledge and experience in investigating major crime.. It is a privilege to be leading this unit as I know what a highly skilled and professional team the three forces has delivering its major crime investigations."

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