The private security company took over the bulk of the force’s back-office functions at the start of April 2012 on a ten-year contract. Some 550 civilian staff, around two-thirds of the total, transferred to G4S.
A report into the G4S-Lincolnshire Police Strategic Partnership has revealed it made estimated savings of 18 per cent in the first year – equating to a total of over £5 million – a figure higher than the 13.6 per cent originally guaranteed by G4S.
Alan Hardwick, Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, claims Lincolnshire now has the lowest spend on policing per head of population in the whole of England and Wales. He added that crime was also down by 14 per cent during the period.
Hardwick estimates that, if the other 42 forces in England and Wales replicated the work done in Lincolnshire in the last year, then it would total a £1 billion saving for the national purse.
“For police forces, whose budgets are already nearly 20 per cent leaner than in 2010, the challenge – to improve quality while finding savings – is about to get bigger,” he said.
“If others want to deliver more for less, they should come to Lincolnshire. We have not only managed to reduce crime by over 14 per cent, but we have done so while putting more officers on the beat, improving public confidence and delivering a better service to our communities.”
G4S has cut 60 roles but created 20 new jobs, resulting in about 40 redundancies across a number of areas, and also passed on savings to the Force by making services more efficient and cutting costs on basic essentials like broadband, electricity and equipment.
The new Street Suite service, hailed by G4S as the “biggest success” seen in the year, has resulted in saving over 1,850 hours of police officers’ time. According to the report, maintenance costs have also been reduced by 20 per cent across the Force’s support services.
In addition, savings have been made to the Force’s vehicle fleet and the Learning and Development Team delivered £25,000 revenue while also saving approximately £360,000 through the improved use of e-learning products.
A four-month backlog of files for processing firearms licences has also been cleared, while 999 response rates have improved. As previously reported on SecurityNewsDesk, G4S measured the response rates in Lincolnshire from the year before they took control and the subsequent year. It found that 89 per cent of 999 calls were handed within the target time of 10 seconds in April 2011-12 and the annual total increased to 93 per cent for April 2012-13.
John Shaw, managing director of G4S Policing Support Services, said the partnership has already achieved more than expected and forces around the country, who are facing difficult decisions in the wake of dropping budgets, could learn important lessons from what has been seen in Lincolnshire.
He said: “We pledged to guarantee savings to Lincolnshire Police of £3.6m per annum – equivalent to a 13.6 per cent saving – while delivering a better service; we have already surpassed this, achieving over 18 per cent estimated savings (over £5m), which equates to the cost of 35 police officers more than we promised.
“And this has been achieved with no loss of service, and in many areas real service improvements as measured by the force, such as in the response to 999 calls for example. This is an outstanding result and one on which I expect we will be able to improve over the next nine years.”
The UK’s largest union, UNISON, has voiced concerns on the claims made that more police services could save money through privatisation. It claims the figures revealed by G4S are “over-hyped” and “not substantiated by figure work” and that privatising police services would result in waning public confidence about impartiality.
Ben Priestley, UNISON national officer for police staff, said: “The G4S contract with Lincolnshire is a secret contract that we cannot investigate to substantiate the claims being made for it; despite it being paid for by taxpayers’ money.
“The public rightly views the privatisation of key police services with deep suspicion. It makes policing less accountable, they are not subject to Freedom of Information requests meaning that important information can be withheld from public scrutiny.
“The public are not fooled by the over-hyped claims that private companies make when taking over public services.”