Headlines: September 30th, 2004

A new Business Benefits Unit is to be set up by Chief Police Officers in Scotland and the Scottish Executive to help forces improve their efficiency and to ensure that finances are concentrated on frontline policing by doing away with red tape.The new unit will look for savings in back-office functions such as IT and payroll, and advise forces on how to minimise bureaucracy to squeeze best value out of their procedures. A pilot scheme to improve the way police vehicles are bought and maintained has already begun and is expected to lead to savings of 200,000 pounds a year.

Ministers in Scotland expect the new unit to identify other significant savings that can be ploughed into frontline police operations. The unit is expected to be self-funding after two years. Scottish Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said it was ‘a tangible way in which a key public service can manage its affairs more efficiently, and make a contribution to a safer society’.

The unit will be based initially with the Association of Chief Police Officers in the Scotland Secretariat and will be supported by more than 280,000 pounds in Executive Funding. It will scrutinise forces’ best value reviews to help them improve efficiency and ensure good practice is spread across the country. It will also help to develop standard ways of managing back office work such as legal advice, IT support, and procurement which can then be rolled out across all forces and, where appropriate, handled nationally. Finally it will assist police forces in implementing and monitoring the changes being introduced as part of the reviews to ensure they are delivering results.