Over the past year Essex Police force has put 238 more officers out on the beat. Funding hasn’t increased, and there have been no cuts to services or front-line duties, so how have they done it?
Quite simply through better management, a genuine focus on cutting waste and bringing an end to frankly indulgent spending. In this way the Essex force has saved £11 million, which has gone directly into funding these new officers.
Their Director of Finance, Rick Tazzini, told the BBC that the force had principally saved money on fuel, stationery and refreshments. Asking officers to fill up their vehicles at cheaper supermarket filling stations is the sort of common sense policy that is still rare in public services. But as Essex has shown, such measures can form part of genuine budget control; they saved £50,000 from this initiative alone. The savings made on tea, coffee and biscuits reduced their annual expenditure to £120,000, at sharp contrast with Lothian and Borders Police, who spent £383,000 on refreshments last year, the equivalent of £147.31 spent per each of their 2600 officers.
Essex’s savings programme – known as Operation Apex – was the brainchild of former Chief Constable Roger Baker. He declared that rolling out the scheme across the whole of the UK could see an extra 20,000 officers recruited if more ‘barmy projects’ were scrapped. Lets hope other forces are listening.