Police plan to cut control rooms from three to two - but there will still be one in Herts
PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 July 2015
Police and crime commissioners and chief constables for three counties have sealed a deal to move ahead with plans for a new collaboration which will see the number of force control rooms reduced from three to two.
The cash-conscious move, the latest in a series of link-ups which have seen major crime units, roads policing teams and a range of back-office functions combined across Beds, Herts and Cambs, will see the services which handle 101 and 999 calls centred on two control rooms - one in Welwyn Garden City and one in Hinchingbrooke in Cambridgeshire.
Under the proposals, which are subject to staff consultation, the three forces are expected to save £4 million a year.
They are also planning to introduce new technology to make it easier for the public to get in touch with police forces.
Announcing the moving, temporary chief constable Jon Boutcher of the Bedfordshire force, which will lose its Kempston control room under the plans, said: “Budget cuts and the current funding provided to the force have meant that we need to explore new ways of working to make the best use of the resources we have.
“Working together with our neighbouring forces to deliver collaboration in appropriate areas, along with introducing new technology, the force can better meet the necessary savings without compromising our frontline capabilities. We continue to explore further options to increase efficiencies and improve the effectiveness of our service delivery.
“With a number of operational functions already shared across the three forces, it makes sense for there to be a consistent approach in the way we manage calls for service and deploy resources.”
Bedfordshire’s police and crime commissioner Olly Martins said: “Our financial circumstances mean that we have to take some really tough decisions about how to make savings, protect our frontline and invest in service transformation through new technology, all at the same time.
“I am convinced our three police forces working together is the answer to this conundrum when it comes to the best future for our control rooms, and looking at what we have achieved combining functions such as forensics, major crimes, roads policing, and armed response gives me considerable confidence in this conclusion.”
Hertfordshire’s police and crime commissioner David Lloyd said: “This initiative will help modernise our response to the public of Hertfordshire from our existing control room in Welwyn Garden City, providing a better service through improved technology and earlier resolution to matters that people need to contact us about.
“The development of online access to key services is the realisation of a key aim of my police and crime plan, while the savings produced by this collaboration will help to continue the protection of neighbourhood policing throughout Hertfordshire.”
Chief Constable Andy Bliss added: “Budget challenges were the spark that led to us thinking about this new approach but this is about far more than simply saving money.
“I want the public to be able to contact us readily in a variety of ways that suit their needs and I want my front line teams to get the best possible support out on the streets especially when they are tackling crime and protecting the public in challenging or dangerous situations where immediate access to information really counts.
“This is a vital part of our aim to sustain our unique style of neighbourhood policing in Hertfordshire and to do all that we can to keep people safe and fight crime.”