PCCs - on the beat to opportunity

The new positions for Police Crime Commissioners (PCCs) aim to give local people more of a say in how police in their area are run. Despite a low voting turnout and some media scepticism, their appointment may mark a turning point for Britain’s constabulary. After 60 days on the job, I imagine the challenges and opportunities they face are clearer than ever.

Opportunity knocks

With a publicly elected and accountable figure at the helm, there is perhaps a fresh chance to drive innovation, efficiency and engagement with citizens.

Faced with more budget cuts, PCCs have been tasked with improving efficiencies. But with around 80% of police budget being spent on salaries and pensions, the question is how to cut costs without cutting front-line officers.

Thinking outside the box

Agile working is one answer. Rolling out devices that provide on-the-scene fingerprinting or the issuing and filing of penalty tickets can significantly increase productivity. In some areas, Panasonic Toughbooks are being used on the dashboards of squad cars to access DVLA information. Mobile working also speeds up the statement-taking process, as officers can capture information on the spot and without needing to input it back at the station. So police can spend more time making a difference amidst the communities they serve and less time dealing with admin.

Another route to quick savings is shared ICT. Thames Valley and Hampshire have successfully combined their ICT infrastructure, cutting costs for not just one, but two forces. You can read more about that in our interview with Paul Ridgewell from Kable Market Intelligence.

Whilst some PCCs campaigned against the involvement of external suppliers, police forces in Cleveland and Lincolnshire have decided to stop managing their ICT in-house. Many others will be watching closely to see if they achieve the expected cost savings and efficiency gains.

The best things in life are free

One innovation that doesn’t require extensive investment is social networking. Many police services are now using Twitter to highlight incidents and interact with the local community and engage citizens. Likewise, Facebook is now being used to help the police connect with younger people. This shows real forward-thinking within the police service and the kind of appetite for innovation that needs to be harnessed.

Not alone

We’ve guided many organisations in finding efficient and innovative ways of working. PCCs aren’t alone in their mission – by partnering with an organisation with expertise in this area, they can make new initiatives successful.

To find out more, visit o2.co.uk/enterprise/sectors/public-sector or call Matt Worth on 01235 433507.