Police forces agree to collaboration of public contact functions
The Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire have agreed to progress proposals for collaboration of their Force Control Rooms. Force Control Rooms deal with 101 and 999 calls from the public, deploy officers and staff plus ensure the recording and appropriate early investigation of crime or anti-social behaviour.

Under the proposals agreed last week (9 July), which are subject to staff consultation, the three forces are expected to save £4 million through the collaboration of their public contact functions which include the force control rooms, crime recording teams and support functions.  This will be achieved by introducing new technology that will allow public access to be improved. Equally, the proposals are about increasing resilience in this function across the three forces.

Collaboration sees the three forces operating from two Control Rooms based in Hinchingbrooke, Cambs, and Welwyn Garden City, Herts, by March 2017. The proposals will also see a consistent approach to public contact adopted across the two locations which will offer increased resilience and responsiveness. Many operational functions are already shared across the three forces and this proposal will enhance the deployment of those to meet public need.

Collaboration would be on a phased basis and is subject to detailed design to inform staff consultation which will take place over the coming months.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, David Lloyd said: “This initiative will help modernise our response to the public of Hertfordshire from our existing Control Room in Welwyn Garden City, providing a better service through improved technology and earlier resolution to matters that people need to contact us about.

“The development of on-line access to key services is the realisation of a key aim of my Police and Crime plan, whilst the savings produced by this collaboration will help to continue the protection of Neighbourhood Policing throughout Hertfordshire.”

The three forces have recognised the need to provide the public with alternative ways to contact them and are also exploring ways in which enhanced technology could provide access to key services online. New channels being developed will provide an improved experience through greater victim access to information.

Chief Constable Andy Bliss commented “Budget challenges were the spark that led to us thinking about this new approach but this is about far more than simply saving money.  I want the public to be able to contact us readily in a variety of ways that suit their needs. And I want my front line teams to get the best possible support out on the streets especially when they are tackling crime and protecting the public in challenging or dangerous situations where immediate access to information really counts. Hertfordshire leads on this major development supported by talented colleagues from across the three forces. This is a vital part of our aim to sustain our unique style of neighbourhood policing in Hertfordshire and to do all that we can to keep people safe and fight crime."

The ambitious Strategic Alliance between the three forces and Police and Crime Commissioners is an on-going programme of work focusing on collaboration as an effective way of protecting frontline policing which is helping the three forces to meet a predicted funding shortfall of £56.6m between now and 2019/20. By 2019, it is anticipated that a wide range of further joint operational and organisational support functions will have been established to bring economies of scale and increased resilience.

Staff will be formally consulted on the proposals once the detailed design phase is complete.