Three-way police alliance bolsters response to widespread street violence

Wednesday, 24 August, 2011

An ambitious joint working pact between three police forces will increase public security during times of major threat.

Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire's three-way 'Strategic Alliance' will increase the forces' capacity to deal with violence on the scale of the recent riots across the country - and retain the crucial headcount of frontline officers needed to deal with the ever-changing threat on Britain's streets.

With the backing of the Police Authorities, the pioneering collaboration will deliver savings in the region of £20m across the three forces and help them tackle organised and widespread disorder more robustly.

Bedfordshire's portion of the savings will amount to some £5m - practically a jackpot to a small Force with a total budget of just over £100m. This figure equates to about 100 police officers, a powerful resource which recent national experience has shown can make an immense difference to the safety of our streets.

Peter Conniff, Chair of Bedfordshire Police Authority, said: "Since mergers were nationally rejected in 2006, collaboration has been the only game in town. Recognising the benefits it could deliver we developed a highly successful partnership arrangement with Hertfordshire, leading the way nationally, which has now been extended.

"With 20% less funding, we accept that police officer numbers will have to decline, but the Strategic Alliance has saved at least 100 posts here and probably another 300 across the other two forces. The importance of police officer volume has never been more apparent in light of the recent riots which caused carnage to towns and cities across the country.

"This joint working agreement means we now have the backup we need to confront such disorder when and if it ever arrives on our doorsteps."

Alf Hitchcock, Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, said: "This is win win. Operationally speaking, you have the combined might of three forces working to fight crime, while the savings mean that that it is slightly easier to balance the books."

Each force in the Alliance is determined to protect what they term 'local policing' - local policing teams providing visible bobbies on the beat. That is one element that will not be delivered collaboratively. Anything else, however, is up for grabs.

Phil Wells, Collaboration Programme Director, said: "By building on the success we expect that over 50% of police business will be delivered in collaboration with Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire forces by 2015.

"We will retain our local policing teams, but nearly everything else, such as Firearms, Major Crime, the dog section and tackling gangs involved in serious and organised crime will be delivered jointly. Like anything, there are economies of scale, but we also get opportunity to use best practice from across all three forces."

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