UK Home Secretary Theresa May estimates that police forces can save around £1bn annually with no negative impact on police visibility. But it is clear that to achieve the ambitious target of a 4% cost reduction year on year, UK police forces must radically rethink how non-core services, such as information technology and communications, are delivered.
Outsourcing mission critical communications services to a third party can help free up police time and resources for reinvestment in core operations. Even greater efficiencies can be achieved if a number of different police forces share resources and services between them, including technology infrastructure and services, call-answering facilities and 24-hour support provision.
In addition, police forces can generate new revenues by leasing their redundant communications sites and assets to appropriate third parties.
Research by Arqiva suggests that a typical mid-sized regional police force can make potential cost savings of around £550,000 over a four-year period by outsourcing its communication services.
This regional force protects 900,000 people across 850 square miles by operating a high-quality, constantly available radio communications infrastructure that incorporates an integrated command and control system (ICCS), 1,800 hand terminals, 400 in-vehicle terminals, 700 mobile phones, and 50 workstations.
Communications services at the force are managed by an internal team of seven people, including four technical grade staff, two vehicle installation staff and one on-site manager. Three members of the team are on call 24 hours a day in the event of a service disruption.
Although delivering communications services is not a core activity for the force, these employees represent a high annual cost of £254,000, which represents more than
£1m over a four-year period.
In addition to high staffing costs, the force frequently needs to invest in specialist equipment and consultancy. This adds just under £300,000 to overall communications costs over four years, bringing the actual figure spent on supporting communications to over £1.3m.
Analysis by Arqiva revealed that the team of six engineers and one on-site manager can be reduced to four, with no negative impact on service quality. The team of three technical staff is reduced to two; two vehicle installation engineers are reduced to one; and the on-site manager is replaced with a shared, remote resource.
This allows three officers to be redeployed to core, frontline roles, increasing local presence and directly contributing to public safety in the area.
Based on Arqiva’s findings, the cost of communications staffing at the force is reduced from over £1m to £720,000 over a four-year period, representing total savings of £280,000.
If this regional force also decided to share centralised call answering facilities and mission critical, 24-hour support teams, it could generate savings of £200,000 over a four-year period by cutting out additional call centre set-up and running costs.
Police forces also need to keep abreast of advances in technology, but developing new wireless services in-house is very costly, time consuming and often difficult to control for in-house teams.
And in the current economic climate available budgets for new investment are likely to be severely limited.
Arqiva works with public safety organisations across the UK – including more than 70% of UK police forces – to not only lower their operating costs, but also improve the performance of mission critical communications.
For example, Warwickshire Police, which serves a population of approximately 500,000 people and employs circa 1,000 officers, uses Arqiva to supply the force’s radio communications system, as well as its mobile phones, pagers, change management processes, budgets, ICCS system and all aspects of vehicle installation.
Merseyside Police, one of the UK’s largest police forces, uses Arqiva to manage all devices on its radio and telecoms network. Arqiva provides a dedicated, on-site facilities management team that offers end-to-end maintenance, fault management and 24/7 support. All services are charged based on a single, annual payment, providing a clear picture of actual communications costs and helping to improve financial planning.
In conclusion, outsourcing non-core communications services to a managed services company such as Arqiva can help a typical regional police force lower operating costs. This saving could be reinvested directly in frontline services to put around 16 additional officers on local streets. And with 28,000 police jobs under threat, every saving that keeps more police on the frontline will be welcomed by both police and public alike.
Arqiva outsourcing benefits at a glance
• Total savings of £550,000 over four years (equal to around 16 additional officers on the beat over the next five years)
• Two officers redeployed from communications management to frontline, citizen-facing services
• Total staffing savings of £280,000 over four years
Arqiva’s end-to-end managed service capabilities
Arqiva’s end-to-end managed service means forces can outsource as much or as little of their wireless requirement as they choose. Services include:
• Round-the-clock support: based on 24/7 service desks, automated fault reporting and system monitoring
• Comprehensive maintenance services: including management and repairs for all wireless equipment, from ICCS, airwave terminals and telephony devices, to batteries, chargers and desktop support
• Specialist installation services: based on capabilities to install, uninstall and maintain all types of equipment in police and other emergency vehicles
• Software applications services: such as the Tracer2 asset database which tracks airwave terminals and related assets
• Product assessment services: including testing for earpieces, terminals and new products deployed on the network
• Terminal configuration and upgrades: including software testing and programming for both mobile and fixed equipment
• Network services: including analysis and validation of network coverage and call data records (CDR) to help forces understand network usage and full network monitoring based on ITIL processes
• ICT services: such as managed support of ICT equipment, ICCS, telephony equipment, voice recorders and data backup devices