BlueLight Commercial is set to transform the commercial activity of policing in the UK, by eliminating silo-working and boosting purchasing power.
The expectation that police forces should work closer together to maximise opportunities to save money was made clear by the Home Office in its written statement to the House of Commons on 22 January. While announcing the police grant support for 2020/21, the Minister for Policing and Fire Kit Malthouse also set out several expectations of policing as part of the settlement.
The Minister acknowledged the efforts which policing had already made as part of the Collaborative Law Enforcement Procurement (CLEP) programme, delivering £40m of cashable efficiency savings from procurement in 2018/19, on track to deliver £30 million of cashable savings from procurement in 2019/20 and highlighting the target of another £30m of cashable savings in 2020/21.
For years police forces have been working to maximise efficiency and ensure best value for taxpayers’ money. However, increasingly forces have signalled that achieving further savings on top of those already delivered is becoming progressively more challenging.
That is where BlueLight Commercial comes in.
Matthew Scott, the chairman of the National Commercial Board (NCB) said: ‘Policing needs a commercial organisation which works across all forces in order to improve commercial practices; provide market management and leadership; deliver strategic supplier management; produce additional cashable savings; and increase revenue generation.
‘The NCB has explored a variety of new ways of working with forces in order to meet those ambitions.
‘With the backing of the Home Office and the Treasury; we developed a business case which proposes a future commercial operating model for policing. The aim of this is to raise the commercial capability of policing - and potentially other blue light services - at all levels and develop ‘commercial’ as a strategic risk-based business function.’
‘This will help us deliver best value and maximise the benefits to the front line.’
The business case for the new commercial organisation was agreed by Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) last year. An implementation board and a shadow board were formed in order to mobilise the new organisation.
Mr Scott, who serves as the PCC for Kent, is chairing the shadow board. He is working closely alongside the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) to ensure the organisation supports the 2025 Policing Vision and policing’s existing commitments to reform itself.
Mr Scott continued: ‘The shadow board met for the first time in December 2019, agreeing to a new name for the organisation – BlueLight Commercial Ltd. The intention is to go-live on 1 June after the PCC elections in May.’
Recruitment is now underway for BlueLight Commercial’s Chief Executive Officer, as well as a number of Regional Commercial Directors. These individuals will lead regionally in two key categories – Vehicles and Air Support, and People and Professional Services. They will work closely with PCCs, Chief Constables, the Home Office, Government Procurement Organisations, and professional procurement leads to see that all stakeholders’ interests are looked after.
On average, around half of all items bought by police forces have a unique price attached to them. Acting as trusted commercial advisors, the Regional Commercial Directors will seek to break down silo working among police forces, and so deliver cashable efficiency savings.
Mr Scott added: ‘I see BlueLight Commercial as playing a significant role at a time of unprecedented change and growth for policing across the UK. The addition of 20,000 new police officers over the next four years is positive news, but the requirement to continue delivering efficiency savings comes alongside this unprecedented investment.
‘BlueLight Commercial will play a central role in supporting and encouraging policing family colleagues to develop a commercial mindset. I am sure that it can, and will, help ensure that waste and inefficiency in all commercial arrangements becomes a thing of the past.’