The Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables for Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police have today reached a symbolic milestone around how they will deliver policing services across the three counties in the future.
An agreement has been reached for a large-scale strategic alliance between the two forces. Their aim, through the alliance, is to maintain a high standard of policing services for the communities within both force areas, at a time when police budgets are reducing across the country. Working together more closely and sharing many services is a significant move that will allow the forces to continue to provide efficient and effective policing, while meeting current and any future financial challenges.
This significant step was formalised when both PCCs and Chief Constables signed an agreement under Sections 22 and 23 of the Police Act (1996), the first time this has happened since the introduction of PCCs.
It results in a legal agreement to work together as preferred partners to preserve, safeguard and, where possible, transform services to the public while retaining separate force identities and local accountability. It will increase resilience and significant cost savings have already been identified. Initial plans that have been developed have already highlighted savings of at least £12 million spread across both forces.
A strategic alliance is not a merger of the two forces. Therefore, both will remain as separate organisations and two Police and Crime Commissioners and two Chief Constables will remain in post. More policing will, in the future, be delivered jointly by the two forces working together under one operating model, which will lead to shared leadership in some functions.
Over the next 12 months, the organisations will consider exactly which functions should be delivered jointly and will also look at best practice outside of policing. This will ensure the most effective and efficient policing is being delivered. It will include assessing whether current functions can be improved by the forces working together and the possibility of some services being delivered outside of the organisations, in public or private partnerships. Whatever approach is taken, the core aim to maintain services to the public while reducing costs remains the same.
Any changes would involve consultation with officers and staff in each force, and any partners involved in that area of policing. The public will also be kept informed as the alliance develops, however most changes will be to internal structures and operating models so will not be noticeable to local people.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset Martyn Underhill said: “We are facing unprecedented times in policing. We need to deliver more for less and this alliance will help us achieve that. In December 2013, we agreed to explore a strategic alliance with Devon & Cornwall Police. That journey has lasted well over a year.
“Today, I have made the biggest decision in my term of office. We have formally decided that Devon & Cornwall Police do have a role in shaping our future policing. This alliance will achieve savings, help improve efficiency, allow some re-investment and secure Dorset’s reputation as one of the safest places in the country.”
Dorset Police Chief Constable Debbie Simpson said: “I am excited to announce that Dorset Police has formally committed to working alongside Devon & Cornwall Police in a strategic alliance.
“They are a high performing force with colleagues who share our values, priorities and absolute determination to deliver the best possible service to local people. They recognise and share our need to meet the funding challenges affecting policing nationwide. Elements of our geography and some of our communities are also similar, which makes an alliance achievable and practical.
“Working in alliance with Devon & Cornwall Police will, I’m sure, provide a golden opportunity to achieve the efficiency savings we must make, while maintaining and protecting vital services.”