Surrey police chief constable recommends ‘modified approach’ to business partnering programme
A £1.5bn joint framework contract for computer equipment networks and services between West Midlands and Surrey police is being delayed, partly because of Surrey’s Olympics policing commitments, and concerns over governance and financing.
In a memo to her police authority, Surrey’s chief constable Lynne Owens recommended a “revised approach” on the planned Business Partnering for Police (BPP) programme.
Although the two authorities issued an OJEU notice in January 2012, followed by a bidders conference in March, Owens said recent discussions with police authority members, as well as media coverage and public feedback had demonstrated that one of the challenges facing the two forces is in explaining clearly what the programme seeks to achieve.
“There is a need to describe what business partnering would look like, how it could work and what it would mean for the public of Surrey. Since my return to the force as chief constable, I have, naturally, wanted to take time to consider how Business Partnering may fit within my wider plans for the force…and from my perspective there are a number of factors that need to be considered further.”
These include, she said, the Olympics, where Surrey has to provide an “excellent ‘business as usual service’, and governance.
“It is evident that there is not wholehearted support from all police authority members for this programme. Equally, with the forthcoming election of a police and crime commissioner in Surrey, we need to ensure that we provide an opportunity for them to influence and shape whatever we develop.”
Financing is also an issue, she said: “It is clear that the financial situation for forces and authorities is unlikely to improve. Indeed, early indications are that cuts in the next CSR could be even more significant. My absolute priority must be to protect our frontline policing, undertaken by Surrey police officers and staff with the support of partners and I need to reflect on every opportunity that enables me to do that.”
Owens said she has discussed with West Midlands the adoption of a modified approach to the procurement.
“The next formal stage is the Invitation to Submit Outline Proposal (ISOP), during which bidders submit a written response to set questions. We now believe we should allow more time to develop our approach at this stage,” said Owens.
“Working with the authority, I want to ensure the ISOP reflects the scope and requirements of both Surrey and West Midlands. In particular, this will provide an opportunity to ensure alignment with our refreshed Surrey Public First Strategy: To keep people safe from harm, give them confidence that we will be there when they need us, and relentlessly pursue criminals.
“In Surrey I would therefore propose the following: we hold a police authority workshop, with the supporting business consultants, to develop further the strategic intent for the programme;
to jointly develop the ISOP questions and, prior to formal continuation of the procurement process, build a joint product that provides more clarity on what is in scope. The force and authority conducts a public engagement exercise on business partnering, perhaps through focus groups.”
Owens said the work, which will take place over the summer, has three very clear advantages: “It minimises any impact on the Olympics, as we will plan activity around periods of peak demand and operational commitments.
“The majority of the competitive dialogue activity (which follows ISOP) would take place after the election of the PCC, therefore allowing them to influence and shape the outcomes of the process.
“The opportunity to consult on and clarify the requirements and scope for business partnering.”
She said the original budget for the OJEU and pre-procurement phases of the programme was £750, 000. Programme spend to date has been £644,000, with the forecast spend for the programme £4.5m
The pioneering West Midland-Surrey partnership, which is open to other police forces to join, is intended to drive significant procurement cost savings, although the contract, which will include the implementation of services such as CCTV and command and control systems, is also earmarked to deliver service improvements.
Paul Ridgewell, senior analyst at Kable, said: “It would seem that a combination of negative media coverage, pockets of internal resistance and uncertainty surrounding the election of PCCs has led to a decision to delay the project. Depending on one’s outlook, this is either a loss of nerve or a pragmatic response to a change in circumstances.”
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