West Midlands Police confirms end of business partner plans
Force to consider taskforce approach post-PCC elections - but fears further budget cuts
West Midlands Police has confirmed the end of its planned business partnering programme - but has indicated it may still need help from those organisations that bid to become its partner.
West Midlands chief information officer Chris Price told the Socitm local government conference in Birmingham this week that the "business partnering brand is completed. The consultants who have been working with us have been dispersed. They've done a very good job and this has been acknowledged by the police and crime commissioner (PCC)."
Price indicated that West Midlands will now take up to eight weeks to look at the work that has been done in the past, taking a consultative approach with staff and partners.
"My personal view is that it will come to a similar conclusion. It's always in my opinion been an ICT-enabled, technology transformation, and then an information transformation leading to a business transformation. But I'm going to need some heavy duty partnering, whatever the direction of travel."
Price indicated that the battleground has never been technology. "Bob Jones, the new PCC, and all the other candidates have gone on record as saying they want the staff in the West Midlands to have the best technology to do their job. So that's acknowledged. It probably won't be as ambitious if I'm honest as what we were actually looking for. But some of the innovation capability, both from the private and the public sectors, is what we want to harness. So the relationship with those consortia is still available to us if we want to use it," he said.
Business partnering was never intended to be privatisation, he said, "but we learned a lot from talking about the business partnering programme. Sitting down with the police and crime commissioner we're now going to have much more of an internally supported programme, particularly around the technology piece and that means information."
Price said that at the end of this financial year, West Midlands will have taken out £78m of the required £126m over four years. But he fears a number of changes in local government funding mean further cuts.
"We have solid plans to take out the remainder of the £126m but in a couple of weeks time might find have to take out a bit more. We predict up to another £16m and that will be hard," he said.