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Police forces still buying piecemeal

07/09/15

Spending data shows some forces still paying 10 times more than others for the same equipment

Some police forces are still spending up to 10 times more than others on the same equipment – despite Home Office orders to co-operate and procure through an online ‘marketplace’.

iStock_PoliceCar_Paula-ConnellyAll 43 forces have shared their spending data under a drive to stop purchases being made in “a fragmented way, in small amounts and to varying specifications”.

Policing minister Mike Penning said the biggest discrepancies uncovered include:

* Hi-visibility jackets – which cost Avon and Somerset police £10.95 per item, while Kent paid £111.50 each.
 
* Batons - Northamptonshire force paid £82.91 apiece, compared with just £22.99 paid out by South Wales.
 
* Belts – which cost West Midlands £16.48 each, but which Suffolk purchased for £1.25.
 
* Cell vans - £11,396.40 was paid by Nottinghamshire (for a Peugeot Expert), while Gloucestershire shelled out just under £30,000 (for a Mercedes Benz Vito).
 
* Body armour – Gwent found it for £190.24 for each item, yet Cumbria paid £471.
 
* Fleeces – which cost Cumbria £46.79 for each one, but many other forces paid just £20.39.

Penning said: “For too long the police have approached the market in a fragmented way, buying equipment in small amounts and to varying specifications. It makes no sense for forces to buy separately when money can be saved if they act together.

£200m savings

“This will help the public and police and crime commissioners hold chief constables to account for how they spend taxpayers' money and, crucially, reveal potential opportunities for further savings.”

Penning said police forces had already “reaped over £200 million in savings” by co-operating on purchases since 2010, but added: “There remains more to do.”

The Home Office published the force-by-force overview of what police pay for 20 common items of uniform and equipment, also including shirts, anoraks, boots, radios and handcuffs.

The findings come amid dire warnings from some police chiefs about the impact on forces of further big spending cuts on, to be announced later this year.

Handcuffs

At the start of the decade, the Home Office announced plans to make it a legal requirement for all forces to use the online marketplace for procurement.

However, a 2013 report by the National Audit Office found that – by the middle of 2012 – less than half were doing so.

The Home Office said the situation had improved significantly – pointing out that 40 of 43 forces are now paying between £16 and £19 for a pair of handcuffs.

(Picture: iStockphoto/Paula-Connelly)

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