A new ‘super’ fleet will take to the roads in Scotland with the creation of a 3,500-strong vehicle operation from possibly as soon as April 2013.
Savings, once established, are forecasted to run into millions of pounds in terms of vehicle standardisation, the procurement of a wide range of vehicle-related supplies, operational performance and the ending of the duplication of resources in a number of areas.
The National Association of Police Fleet Managers (NAPFM) in Scotland is already holding monthly meetings to ensure a smooth transition to a single police force serving Scotland, which will be the second largest in fleet terms in the UK behind the Metropolitan Police Service which operates more than 4,000 vehicles.
Tony Chalk, chairman of the Scottish NAPFM and transport manager of Strathclyde Police, Scotland’s largest force with a fleet of 1,185 vehicles, says the decision is a good move.
“Although the forces already work closely together in terms of vehicle standardisation and the sourcing of vehicle livery, lights and other items, the move will further improve economies of scale as we will be able to negotiate better deals with suppliers and improve efficiencies and that will mean more resources for frontline policing,” he said.
The move to amalgamate the existing eight Scottish police forces and the Scottish Police Service Authority, which manages a range of back office functions and operates 300 vehicles, follows publication of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill.
It will see the abolition of the eight individual forces - Central Scotland Police, Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, Fife Constabulary, Grampian Police, Lothian and Borders Police, Northern Constabulary, Strathclyde Police and Tayside Police.
The Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland is expected to be appointed early next year, with the new force scheduled to be up and running possibly from April 2013.
The Chief Constable’s appointment is likely to be followed by the appointment of a transport manager to head the new fleet and the recruitment of fleet department staff. However, the exact structure of the new department and whether it will include regionally-based staff has yet to be decided.
In publishing the Bill, Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said that all police staff would transfer to the new service so ruling out redundancies.
Information published with the Bill reveal estimated savings in vehicles alone totalling some £8.41 million by March 31, 2026.
The pooling of resources across the newly established single force would include, said Chalk, the sharing of specialist vehicles including protected service units (PSUs), dog vans and horse boxes. Currently individual forces have their own vehicles.
He added: “The savings are potentially huge as we drive through economies of scale and reduce bureaucracy. There will be significant improvements in efficiency.”