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Police must collaborate for procurement savings – NAO

Many opportunities for savings in police procurement remain unexploited, a new report from the National Audit Office (NAO) highlights.

Police forces spent around £1.7bn in 2010-11, and while many forces are now working together to improve their buying power and make administration savings, nearly half of all forces still have independent procurement teams.

Common specifications for all goods and services could increase the scope for collaborative buying, and the NAO suggests forces could save up to a third of costs in agreeing these for the most common types of equipment.

A lack of accurate data is also making it difficult for the Home Office to target interventions into improved procurement.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: “Faced with the pressure to make substantial savings, it makes sense for police forces to examine the scope for cutting the cost of buying goods and services. What is clear is that many opportunities for savings remain unexploited.

“Agreement between forces on collaborative ways of buying and common specifications for equipment can deliver better value for money – but implementing this is a challenge where forces are used to doing their own thing.

“The Home Office will need to think how best to manage the risks implicit in operating a light-touch oversight regime. In particular it needs better understanding of police procurement activity and to be clearer about how it will enforce its directives when necessary.”

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