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Police Reform Programme Outline Business Case


CHAPTER 8: Identifying the Preferred Option


8.1 Early in 2011, the Cabinet Secretary set three tests for reform and made it clear that any change should:

  • improve services and deliver better outcomes at local and national level;
  • secure greater local engagement and accountability; and
  • deliver efficiencies while protecting frontline services as far as possible.

8.2 This chapter sets out the comparative analysis of the three options for structural reform, based on the options appraisal above. Its starting point is the discussion in Chapters 3 and 4: the development of the Target Operating Model, and its subsequent alignment with the three reform options to develop practical and operable delivery models. It draws on the option appraisal in Chapter 5, the financial appraisal in Chapter 6, and the risk analysis in Chapter 7 to identify a preferred option for the future of policing in Scotland.

Monetary costs and benefits

8.3 Based on the economic and financial appraisals in chapters 5 and 6, Table 8.1 summaries the quantified assessment of the three options.

Table 8.1: Ranking of option on monetary factors

Option 1: Eight forces enhancedOption 2: Regional ServiceOption 3: Single Service
Net Present Value (15 yrs)£1,057m£1,193m£1,364m
Net efficiencies (yr 5)£118m p.a.£132m p.a.£151m p.a.
Total transition costs (5 yrs)£132m£145m£161m
Affordability (yr 5)£85m p.a.£97m p.a.£106m p.a.

8.4 Taking account of our commitment to maintain officer numbers, the option appraisal and financial appraisal indicate that a single service delivers the greatest benefits and efficiencies. They demonstrate that a single police service:

  • offers the greatest potential to generate the required efficiency savings: estimated at an annual recurring cash saving of £106 million; and total net present value of £1,364 million over 15 years (compared to net present value of £1,193 million for regional model and £1,057 million for the eight forces enhanced model);
  • requires one-off transitional investment of up to £161m (compared with £145m for a regional force model) with the main investment costs being for programme management, voluntary redundancy, ICT convergence; and
  • delivers greater quantifiable and qualitative benefits relative to the regional and 8 force enhanced options.

Non-monetary costs and benefits

8.5 The appraisal above indicates that retaining the eight force model with increased collaboration does not satisfy the criteria for reform. It would perpetuate the existing inequalities of provision across Scotland, and would not provide the necessary savings.

8.6 A move to a regional structure with a smaller number of boards would offer some opportunities to protect budgets and deliver better outcomes. It would reduce to some extent the variation in delivery approaches. It would not, however, remove unnecessary duplication and ensure consistency across Scotland, given the autonomy the regional bodies would have in developing their own delivery models. It would therefore deliver fewer efficiencies than single services (around £20 million per year less). It would require the most complex, lengthy and potentially risky transformation programme, requiring transfers from 8 forces to 3, as well as to significantly expand the national SPSA and SCDEA. It would also restrict the ability to move resources and expertise to areas of greatest need and to create and maintain effective national capability.

8.7 The regional option would not provide the direct relationship with local authorities and local communities, or strengthen local accountability. Instead, it would in effect create an extra tier of governance.

8.8 A single service model presents the best opportunity to drive out duplication, ensure consistency, and rationalise existing systems and structures as far as possible. Efficiencies would be realised through economies of scale; expertise, capability and budgets could be pooled at a national level then targeted to local need; existing weaknesses in national accountability would be addressed; and local accountability could be enhanced through greater engagement at the level of each local authority.

8.9 The creation of a single service would also provide the best way to protect and improve local community policing. Stopping the duplication of support services eight times over, and deploying specialist resources flexibly across all of Scotland in line with need, would protect the services people care about most and lead to a safer Scotland. Taking forward this option would, through our proposals to ensure a locally accountable officer for each local authority area, widen democratic engagement by involving significantly more local authority elected members. These members would be formally consulted on local plans and hold the identified local Senior Officer to account for performance against these plans. In addition, having a local senior officer who is responsible and accountable for services in their areas, would strengthen the link with local communities. It would align far better with community planning arrangements and promote local service integration and partnership working, whilst retaining the flexibility to allow pan-local authority solutions where desired. By pushing responsibility and accountability for local policing down from regional to local authority level, the single force would deliver more local, more integrated, and more democratically and transparently accountable services.

8.10 As outlined in Chapter 7, the assessment of risk indicates that Option 3, the single service model, presents the lowest risk to delivery of financial and non-financial benefits. Option 2, the regional force model, presents the highest risk to delivery of these benefits.

8.11 In conclusion, the option appraisal demonstrates that a single service would provide:

  • the least complex and most efficient option;
  • the best opportunity to reinvest to improve local policing outcomes;
  • the highest potential for long-term financial sustainability; and
  • the best opportunity to co-ordinate change, optimise benefit and minimise risk.

Preferred option

8.12 In summary, the option appraisal indicates that the Option 3, the single service model, delivers greatest efficiency savings and non-financial benefits relative to the regional and eight forces options and is therefore best positioned to deliver an improvement in the effective delivery of policing in Scotland.

8.13 Based on this evidence a single service would best meet the government's ambition for reform of policing. Anything short of that would involve a series of compromises and sub-optimal arrangements which would cumulatively undermine the economic and organisational case for reform, and would not make the level of savings in the light of continued budget cuts.