Going out to tender for a national vehicle contract will be among the first significant areas of businesses to benefit from the work of the new commercial support organisation, BlueLight Commercial (BLC).
The company, which came into existence at the start of June, has been created to enable policing to deliver the Policing Vision 2025 – which states business support functions will be delivered in a more consistent and efficient manner.
Chief Executive Officer Lianne Deeming said: ‘BlueLight Commercial is about taking policing on a journey to commercial excellence. Much good work has been done by police procurement teams on a local and regional level in recent years. We are looking to share the best of that work, and create more national consistency.
‘As we have been engaging with forces and Police and Crime Commissioners, we have been keen to stress that we are about working with – not dictating to – policing. Our growing team includes people with significant procurement experience, both from within policing and from the private sector.’
One such example is Jo Osborne; a former director of procurement for the Yorkshire and Humber policing region. She is one of BlueLight Commercial’s regional commercial directors and she has responsibility for the priority areas of fleet and aviation.
On joining, she said: 'I will continue working with key stakeholders and partners to ensure that these categories foster collaboration and deliver sustainable goods and services that are both supportive of the communities served and fit for the demands of modern policing. BlueLight Commercial will provide policing with a platform to drive transformational change in commercial activity and I look forward to working with colleagues, stakeholders and suppliers, supporting frontline activity.'
Tendering for a nationwide vehicle contract is due this autumn. In preparation, the company is working in partnership with the National Association of Police Fleet Managers (NAPFM) and engaging with police forces across England and Wales to understand their medium-term fleet requirements to ensure the tender fits their needs.
By buying the necessary number of vehicles collectively from suppliers, BlueLight Commercial plans to secure better deals which will save individual police forces money.
Matthew Scott, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent and chair of the BlueLight Commercial Board, said: ‘We are determined to provide support services in a more consistent manner; delivering efficiencies through economies of scale, and by sharing procurement and best commercial practice. Doing so means we can make best use of taxpayers’ money and direct as much of that money as possible to preventing and investigating crime.’
BlueLight Commercial is being funded by the Home Office, and was namechecked when the Policing Minister Kit Malthouse outlined the Government’s commitment to invest in 20,000 additional police officers in January. Mr Malthouse made it clear that additional money from Government was conditional on policing delivering greater efficiency in return.
As well as fleet and aviation, the company’s early work has focussed on three other areas - people and professional services, PPE, and energy. Stuart Jose, previously head of regional procurement in the South West of England, is looking at how forces can maximise value for money in the people and professional services ‘pillar’ – covering recruitment, training, and financial services.
Mr Jose said: ‘Working with, and influencing, key stakeholders from across policing we will ensure we deliver value for money and meet forces’ business needs, whilst at all times acting as an ambassador for commercial excellence. My aspiration for BlueLight Commercial is that we quickly become the trusted partner for policing, and other bluelight services, through demonstrating the value that our knowledge can add.’
Although it only recently went live, the company has already been identifying, simplifying and implementing key processes, such as enabling contracting by way of financial provisions for both ad-hoc and emerging needs of policing.
It also played a role in co-ordinating the take-up of BP’s offer of free fuel to emergency services during the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic – an offer which saved emergency services £11.2million including more than £6million for policing. BlueLight Commercial engaged with the fuel card firm Allstar and the NAPFM in order to help cascade information, and it directed colleagues to adapt their normal buying behaviours to maximise savings.