Fleet News

Awards winner’s profile: National Association of Police Fleet Managers

STEVE Botham brims with pride at collecting the Fleet News Platinum Award on behalf of the National Association of Police Fleet Managers.

As chairman of the association, he is quick to point out the award logo adorning the backdrop at the recent NAPFM Conference in Swindon.

Botham said: ‘I was so immensely proud to accept it on behalf of the association. As far as we are concerned it is the pinnacle of achievement.’

He added that fleet work was often overlooked in police forces because of the sometimes extreme nature of the work colleagues carry out.

‘It provoked a strong reaction because it’s an outside award which has gone to an area that is very much a Cinderella operation within the police,’ he said.

‘We are the unsung heroes really, and at last we have been recognised.’ Botham felt that the prestige of the award could help police fleets in the future as it quantifies their work for police decision-makers.

He said: ‘The bodies we answer to can see that the professionalism we bring to the fleet is second to none. Police forces in general feel more comfortable that we now have recognition from outside.

‘We have had individual fleet managers recognised for their expertise but this is the first time that the association has received an external award for professionalism.’

With imminent central budget cuts for police fleets looking likely, NAPFM is working constantly to keep costs down.

A national marked vehicle framework has already been agreed to restrict managers on brands of car to buy.

Discussions with manufacturers have resulted in discounts for bulk purchases.

Botham said the next step was to standardise equipment in and on the car to bring down the amount of preparation time for new vehicles.

He said: ‘We’re working towards some new controls. We’re looking to standardise light bars on police cars and standardise the livery. There are a lot of differences at the moment.

‘All this is leading up to a standard car that can be produced more effectively by manufacturers. We order a car, it comes with an approved light bar, approved livery – all you do need to do is add the local badge and it’s operational. That’s what we’re working towards.’

The London bombings of July 7 have brought the role of the police in the UK to the forefront of public scrutiny, meaning pressure on fleets to deliver an unparalleled service has never been greater.

Without reliable transport for officers, the battle against terrorism is lost. Regular officers need patrol cars and demand for armour-plated, four-wheel drive special operations vehicles is soaring.

On top of that, the police force is branching out with the introduction of community support officers who also have transport needs.

But Botham and his members seem to thrive on the pressure and are rising to the challenge, convinced that the standardisation process will result in a more efficient operation across the country.

Botham said: ‘It’s an exciting time. We’re facing an unprecedented threat from terrorists and the police are forever stretched.

‘We’re also stretching the family of police with community support officers, neighbourhood watches and so on and we have to meet that diversity. Standardisation is one way we can do it.’

What the judges said

‘ONE word sums up the National Association of Police Fleet Managers: dedicated. Its members display plenty of other attributes, among them professionalism, tenacity and invention, but they go to work every day believing that what they do genuinely makes a difference to the country we live in – and it does.

NAPFM members ensure the police are capable of getting to emergencies as quickly and as safely as possible, and their long list of innovations such as telematics, health and safety, buying power and engineering solutions and firsts in fleet illustrates that they never rest on their laurels.

Over the years, NAPFM has been at the forefront of introducing new vehicle technology in a harsh and unyielding environment where getting it wrong could have potentially disastrous consequences. Yet time and time again, they get it right, thanks to a strong association that constantly examines best practice and shares experience, while its fleets are routinely inspected by Government agencies. The results of those inspections are regularly superlative.

It’s not a surprise that over the years of the Fleet News Awards, a huge number of NAPFM members have been winners or highly commended. Its fleets are some of the best-run, with costs closely monitored, yet not at the expense of its chief objective of keeping the police on the road.

Speak to any NAPFM member about the job and the dedication each has to ensuring the police have the best vehicles possible to do their job comes shining through. This devotion is why we chose the association to receive this year’s Platinum Award.’

NAPFM profile

THE National Association of Police Fleet Managers traces its roots back to the Earls Court Motor Show in 1972.

It was there that several police fleet engineers and Superintendent ‘Dickie’ Dennis of Wiltshire Constabulary had the idea of organising a fleet engineers’ seminar.

The first gathering was in July 1973 at Devizes Police HQ. A dozen fleet engineers attended and discussed subjects such as workshop management, evaluating police vehicles and control of staff.

Over the next few years manufacturers were invited to the seminar to answer queries and to give a sales pitch. By 1981, 40 forces were represented.

In 1986 Steve Botham took responsibility for the conference and introduced a new format with manufacturers putting on a show of police vehicles.

The conference evolved into the National Association of Police Fleet Managers that year and each region had a representative on the management committee.

NAPFM now represents 53 fleet managers from England, Wales and Scotland, covering a total fleet of 35,000 vehicles.

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