My office (the OPCC) has worked closely with the police service to spend public money more efficiently. Bringing new expertise and better financial management has resulted in big savings in the expenditure that supports policing… buying things, running estates and fleet, joining up some functions with other parts of Staffordshire’s public sector and reducing technology costs.
It's worked with budgets in good shape up to 2020 and the predicted 2016 financial crisis that was looming back in 2013 averted because money is being spent more effectively. The result is better value for you, me and everyone in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and it also means I have not increased the portion of the council tax bill I set for policing, victims and community safety has not increased at all since I was elected. I won't raise it until I’m certain that what money is already available is being spent as well as it can be. It’s better, but not there yet!
It's also why there haven't been the cuts to local response and neighbourhood policing happening elsewhere. Many parts of England now have 17% fewer officers in those important community policing roles but in Staffordshire it's actually up 1%. Not up by many.... but better than swathing losses!
The challenge to better value for money across public services is getting the ‘whole system’ of public services to work better towards shared goals. Not being organisationally precious but instead playing as a team. The work I’ve done to drastically reduce the number of people with mental health issues ending in a police cell even though they haven’t committed a crime is a good example.
I’ve invested the budget I have in other services in order to close gaps and it’s led to an 80% reduction in what was a scandalous longstanding problem. So there have been successes in joint working but the opportunity to do much more and much wider is there for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) role is a conduit to make that happen.
Consistently joined-up approaches requires sector wide improvement and change, not just tinkering around the edges to make bits of the system better. Improving, for instance, the speed and effectiveness of the criminal justice system from arrest to disposal in court is entirely possible. It could be cheaper but better!
But whether you’re talking about that or reducing future offending it’s about joint enterprise, working towards common outcomes etc. Whatever you want to call it does produce better results and cheaper. So stopping being organisationally precious and remembering it’s tax payers money, not each organisation’s is the key to success.
And I’ll keep pushing in that direction.