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ublic sector police services are changing, and fleet management is no exception. The National Association of Police Fleet Managers (NAPFM) is preparing for its annual conference and looking to the future when it is planning to hold a fully integrated event with fleet managers from fire and ambulance services. This builds on a concept seen at last year’s conference, where the National Strategic Ambulance Fleet Group also took part.


This year, the event is focusing on collaboration – a necessary practice for an association struggling to hold on to its core purpose in the face of aggressive outsourcing deals and major cuts to police budgets.

The work in this area has been ongoing for the last few years, but is now coming to a head with “various forces collaborating together”, chairman of the NAPFM, Richard Flint, told PSE.

Bird’s eye view

Flint, head of transport at North Yorkshire Police, highlighted a number of forces who were amalgamating fleet; Kent and Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk, and other collaborations in the Yorkshire and Humber region.

We need to be careful what we’re outsourcing

Richard Flint, chairman of the National Association of Police Fleet Managers (NAPFM) and head of transport at North Yorkshire Police, talks about the organisation’s upcoming conference, outsourcing deals and collaboration.

Scotland will also be amalgamating police fleets, as all its eight police forces are being merged into one, to create the second largest force in the UK, by 2014.

“There’s more and more pressure gaining on all of us to collaborate with other forces and also other emergency service partners.”

Political pressure to find savings and centralise contracts and costs were the cause of much of this reorganisation, Flint added.

Central government wanted to “pull everything together”, he explained: “Really taking a bird’s eye view of all the contracts in the public sector and pulling them together as much as possible.”

And while he agreed that this can be a good thing “in some circumstances”, he said: “You’ve got to be careful, sometimes, when bringing everything together in one basket.

“[It] isn’t always the right answer and doesn’t always deliver the savings expected, so it’s really horses for courses in looking at these contracts and what’s best for the marketplace.”

Flint went on to say that rather than automatically centralising contracts, it was more about smarter procurement, which “doesn’t necessarily mean aggregating everything together to get the best prices”.

Standardisation is also on the agenda through the ‘One Box’ project, moving to a ‘Single Vehicle Architecture’ for

’ police vehicle equipment.

Compliance with the new standard is mandatory from September this year. The Home Office calls it a “major step forward for the police service in producing a standardised police vehicle, which is safe for the occupants and provides efficiency savings for the police service, with the possibility in the future of transferability to other emergency service vehicles”.

Cost-effective outsourcing

Also high on the agenda for police at the moment is outsourcing, with many deals being signed or considered, even in the wake of the G4S Olympics security scandal.

All support services have been outsourced in some forces, such as Cleveland, which has linked up with IT services company Steria, while West Midlands Police is still seeking an outsourcing partner even though Surrey Police is dropping out of a joint deal the two forces were planning.

Although media hype around outsourcing has recently become heightened, the police have been using the practice as an option for several years, particularly in regard to fleet.

Flint said: “I think it’s a bit of a myth that police haven’t outsourced before, because they outsource various things across the work, but particularly in our fleet area.

“We generally outsource proportions of our business in terms of accident repairs; breakdown recovery; various different elements of running the fleet will be outsourced.”

He added that “what matters is what works” and described an approach where outsourcing is considered if work is not cost-effective to conduct in-house, rather than always as first choice.

“The worry for me is that on a national scale at the moment, it’s a trend of ‘outsourcing is best, let’s outsource everything!’

“I’m trying to highlight the fact that a lot of these organisations, whether it be police or whatever, tend to outsource without knowing what their true costs currently are.”

50 | public sector executive Jul/Aug 12

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