Fleets in the private sector could follow the example of bluelight fleets by pooling their resources to secure bigger discounts from suppliers.
That’s the view of North Yorkshire Police head of transport and National Association of Police Fleet Managers Richard Flint. The country’s 52 police forces is now working with the other emergency services to further boost its buying power; the result is “massive discounts” by putting business with one supplier such as tyres and glass repair.
Times are changing,” he told Fleet News Congress. “You may be competitors but there’s no reason why you can’t work with other organisations on collaboration.”
Police fleets combine for a total of 48,000 vehicles with an annual spend of £120 million, plus £25 million on parts, £75 million on fuel (police fleets are the largest user of fuel in the UK) and £7 million on tyres.
Given those levels of expenditure, cost-saving initiatives are essential. On the North Yorkshire Police fleet, Flint has introduced logbooks in every vehicle to track drivers. It shows him when the vehicle is being used and by whom – more importantly, it highlights which vehicles aren’t being fully utilised.
“We found some vehicles were only being used two or three days a week so we introduced a web-based pool car system and put the under-utilised vehicles on that,” Flint said. “Drivers input their start and end date and location and they can see the pool cars that are available. It has reduced our grey fleet and hire fleet – we’re saving £2,000-3,000 per month.”
Staff can also see if another person is going to the same destination at the same time. This has led to more car sharing which has further increased vehicle utilisation.
All police fleets are striving to strike the right balance between risk and cost. According to Flint, that balance has changed dramatically in recent years.
“Safety is paramount. But the days when we could afford to pay to take away the risk are gone,” he said. “We have to take more risk on our shoulders and be accountable.”