The South Yorkshire and Humberside Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables met last week (Wednesday, 18 February) to discuss plans to develop their existing collaboration in a bid to meet the financial challenges for both Forces.

The Police and Crime Commissioners, Dr Alan Billings and Matthew Grove agreed to build on their existing working relationships and enter a Strategic Partnership to explore further joint opportunities, allowing both Forces to share support services with the aim of protecting front line officers and staff, and keeping Community Policing local.

Both Forces have collaborated extensively for many years on a variety of support functions such as IT and Human Resources, and this work will consider which other areas can be delivered more effectively in a joint arrangement over the next two to three years.

Each have significant savings to make and recognise that the provision of an effective service is essential to the public. The Commissioners and Senior Command Teams are fully supportive of this approach and are keen to put together a joint team to help drive this forward.  They are all very clear that this is not a merger of the two organisations and each force will retain its own identity.

The team responsible will work closely with both the Commissioners and Command Teams to look at new innovative ways to deliver cost effective policing across each of the Forces.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “All police forces across the UK are struggling with the continued cuts to the policing grant. We now have to look to do things more efficiently and smarter.

“I am extremely pleased to be collaborating with Humberside Police and look forward to working with Matthew to implement some highly effective efficiency savings.”

Matthew Grove, Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner said: “My priority is to ensure that the outcomes of my Police and Crime Plan; namely to reduce crime, improve support to victims and protect the public are delivered whilst balancing the budget and ensuring value for money. I am prepared to examine all potential opportunities that allow these outcomes to be delivered.

“Clearly, in a time of austerity we must protect the number of frontline officers and staff as much as possible to deliver an effective police service for our residents. This enhanced partnership will explore all opportunities to do that.”

The immediate next steps are to explore what is feasible, what savings are achievable and how service to the public can be maintained. In some highly specialised areas the two forces working together may be able to improve the capability to keep our communities safe.

A separate agreement has been reached between South Yorkshire Police and Humberside Police to develop a joint Specialist Operational Service, which covers areas such as firearms and roads policing. This will sit alongside existing regional collaborative arrangements that are already in place such as those for scientific support and serious and organised crime.