A new ‘strategic alliance’ between Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire Police will see the forces integrated as closely as possible without actually merging, the county’s police and crime commissioner has said.
A statement released by Northants Police today (Monday) states the three forces have agreed to work on developing a ‘single policing model’, which could be in place by 2020.
Northants Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds said the new alliance would result in a “reduction in duplication” between the three forces, which it is hoped would save up to £80 million in the next five years.
This could result in fewer senior officer roles and a single control room for all three forces, which would not necessarily be in Northamptonshire, he said.
Mr Simmonds said the alliance would also mean that officers would no longer be confined to the county borders, and Northants officers may be called to a job in Leicestershire or Nottinghamshire or vice versa.
The first change, due to be introduced by June 2017, is to be the aligning of the force’s contact management departments. Mr Simmonds said he did not expect the Northants control room to be on the Wootton Hall site in 18 months’ time but details of other possible locations have not been given.
He said: “The public won’t really notice a great deal of difference. But we will be looking to be as integrated as possible without actually merging.
“We will look to have all three forces on the same IT platforms and share procurement of vehicles and equipment.”
Mr Simmonds said he expected the alliance to result in a reduction in a number of roles but expected this to come from “natural wastage” rather than redundancies.
He said: “This Alliance is not the merger of three forces but it is a level of collaboration not yet experienced anywhere else in the country. Three unique and individual forces with proud histories, believing that together they will be more efficient and effective and more powerful to the benefit of local communities.
“The Alliance will be able to protect the quality of local policing services in difficult financial times, while each force retains its own local identity.”
Northants Police Deputy Chief Constable Andy Frost said the force needed to look at how it delivered a wide range of services differently across the three forces.
He said: “Technology, for example, can open up new channels of communication and enable people to report and track crime online or where appropriate talk to an officer online. There will inevitably be changes to the service the public receives however what is paramount is that we work together to keep people safe and operate in the most efficient and effective way.”
Home Secretary Theresa May said she welcomed the decision to form a strategic partnership.
She said: “The last five years have shown that the police can work more effectively and more cheaply if forces collaborate, without sacrificing local identity in the process. There are already joint local arrangements for firearms, major crimes, economic crime, cyber crime, dogs units and road policing, to name but a few in different parts of the country. Other forces are collaborating with the fire and rescue service or local authorities to share buildings and back-office functions.
“All collaboration is welcome, but only through systematic and thought-through partnership will we maximise improvements in efficiency and effectiveness. Police forces must be willing to act collectively and do so in the interests of what is best for policing as a whole.”
It is believed that Derbyshire and Lincolnshire were approached about being part of the alliance but declined to take part.