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Suffolk: Police paid £350,000 for advice on merging control room

PUBLISHED: 16:20 09 April 2014 | UPDATED: 16:20 09 April 2014

Chief Constable Douglas Paxton

Chief Constable Douglas Paxton

Archant

Suffolk and Norfolk police paid a consultancy nearly £350,000 for advice on merging its control rooms and other administrative posts.

David Ellesmere at police control room protest meeting David Ellesmere at police control room protest meeting

Details of the cost can be revealed as Suffolk’s police chiefs prepare for tonight’s first public meeting over the controversial proposal to relocate the county’s control room to Norfolk.

Residents who have taken part in various polls including in the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star have been overwhelmingly against such a relocation.

This evening Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore and Chief Constable Douglas Paxton will be at East Bergholt High School.

People will be able to give their views at the meeting which is due to start at 6.30pm.

Mr Paxton put forward the business case with Norfolk’s Chief Constable, Simon Bailey. A merger would save an estimated £1.84m a year.

However, Mr Passmore said he had yet to be convinced such a move would be in the interests of Suffolk and was seeking public opinion.

The constabularies recruited consultancy firm Capita to help compile a report for the proposed administrative changes at a cost of £348,884.90.

A total of £123,569 was spent on the control room work.

In addition to the merger proposal, the work also included looking at relocating other civilian staff posts from Norfolk into combined departments based in Suffolk.

Suffolk’s share of the whole bill was £151,764.93 with Norfolk’s portion coming to just over £197,000.

Simon Stevens, a spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary, said: “Since 2010, Norfolk and Suffolk have been working closely together to cut costs whilst transforming services.

“The Contact and Control Room (CCR) and the Shared Service Partnership (SSP) are just two work streams from a plan that has stretched right across both constabularies.

“Whilst our own staff have helped co-design the SSP and CCR business cases it was felt appropriate to engage professional advice to provide independent scrutiny.

“Following a procurement exercise an initial amount of £64.5k was spent on the first stage of the SSP.

“Following the conclusion of the first stage two further stages totalling £160.8k were procured to deliver a final business case.

“Capita developed the justification report for a single CCR concept. This was also presented to the Collaboration Panel and following feedback an in-house team was tasked with developing the final business case.

“The Collaboration Panel has been updated on the progress of both work areas regularly.”

Earlier this week it emerged Suffolk Constabulary was to demand a better deal after being charged nearly double the amount that Norfolk paid for use of the police helicopter.

The National Police Air Service allocated 600 hours of air support to Suffolk last year at a cost of £600,000. Despite Norfolk being the larger county it was only allocated 220 hours at a cost of £360,000. However, Suffolk did subsequently transfer a portion of its hours, valued at £39,000, to Norfolk.

The allocations were based on historic usage of air support rather than what the constabularies may have actually wanted.

The figures were revealed in replies to a Freedom of Information request.

Suffolk and Norfolk police need to find combined savings of £36.7m by March 2018, with Suffolk’s shortfall being £16.4m.

• For more on the proposed merger, click here
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