Large variations in amounts police forces spend on equipment


Some police forces spend 10 times more than others on the same pieces of equipment, new figures reveal.

While Avon and Somerset got hi-visibility jackets at £10.95 per item, Kent Police paid £111.50 each, procurement data released by the Home Office shows.

Dorset police managed to buy cut-resistant gloves for £8.95 a pair, whereas Essex paid £34.50. The force paying the higher amount said its gloves are also spike resistant.

Other wide variations in prices paid for kit and uniform include:

:: Northamptonshire paid £82.91 each for batons, compared to £22.99 laid out by South Wales.

:: West Midlands bought belts at £16.48 each, compared to just £1.25 in Suffolk.

:: Gloucestershire paid just under £30,000 for a Mercedes Benz Vito when purchasing kitted cell vans, compared to £11, 396.40 paid by Nottinghamshire for Peugeot Expert. Gloucestershire said it plans to purchase a Ford Transit next.

:: Warwickshire and West Mercia jointly paid £18.20 for trousers, while South Yorkshire purchased theirs for £7.83 each.

The Home Office published the force-by-force overview of what police pay for 20 common items of uniform and equipment.

Ministers want police to collaborate more on procurement, claiming £200m has already been saved by a more joined-up approach.

Policing Minister Mike Penning said: "For too long the police have approached the market in a fragmented way, buying equipment in small amounts and to varying specifications.

"Since 2010, police forces have increasingly worked together to buy goods and services and reaped over £200 million in savings by doing so.

"But there remains more to do. It makes no sense for forces to buy separately when money can be saved if they act together."

The findings come amid controversy over the possible impact of fresh budget cuts on police services.

Senior officers and police and crime commissioners have issued warnings over the consequences of new austerity measures in recent days.

Will Riches, vice chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "It's all well and good talking about procuring police boots, uniforms and cars, but we first need to concentrate on making sure that there are some officers left to actually wear and use that equipment."

Paddy Tipping, chairman of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners' finance group, said: "The police service has great collective buying power which provides further opportunity to save money and reduce costs.

"We fully support the drive to standardise basic specifications for commonly used items that will also lead to improvements in quality and reliability."

Shadow policing minister Jack Dromey said:"The Police Minister is blaming the Police for the Government's failure. Significant savings can be made but will only be realised through a strategic national approach to procurement. 

"Labour proposed precisely that before the General Election, pointing to £172 million a year in savings that could be made. The Government rejected our sensible proposals. It is Ministers who are responsible for the failure on procurement.

"Of course sensible savings on procurement should be sought. However, such savings will be dwarfed by the scale of the Government's reckless cuts to the policing budget which will see 22,000 more Police Officers go on top of the 17,000 who have already gone."