Strategic Alliance

Dorset Police and Devon & Cornwall Police: Working together in a strategic alliance

How we started on the road to an alliance

Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police formally entered into a strategic alliance in March 2015. The two forces are working together to improve delivery, resilience and flexibility, as well as save money and increase efficiency in over 30 administrative and operational business areas.

This agreement follows the announcement in December 2013 from the chief officers and police and crime commissioners from Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police when they first agreed to explore opportunities for greater collaboration.

The aim of the work was to look at how the two forces could maintain effective policing whilst also reducing costs by working more closely together.

This was consistent with the direction set nationally by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and the Government, where neighbouring forces are encouraged to work more closely together.

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Working in an alliance is not the same as a merger.

The HMIC defines a strategic alliance as: “An agreement between two or more forces to pursue a set of agreed objectives, while retaining separate identities.”

Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police will continue to have their own distinct identities and will pursue police and crimes plans agreed locally with their elected police and crime commissioner.

In each alliance business area, a single leadership team and management structure is being set up to work on behalf of both forces. The alignment of processes and systems in these areas is also a key objective though full integration may take some years to complete. Costs and savings which flow from joining these business areas together are to be shared in proportion to the size of each force.

The areas currently excluded from the alliance are all aspects of local policing, local investigations and public protection.

The timescales, budget and resources associated with the alliance programme all remain on track. Business areas that have gone live as part of the programme are already achieving significant levels of savings. As the day-to-day delivery from those business areas matures, as processes embed fully and as further business areas come online, the expectation is that the annual savings from alliance departments will increase year on year.

While working closely together through the alliance, Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police continue to have their own distinct identities and pursue police and crimes plans agreed locally with their elected police and crime commissioner.

Both forces have their own chief constable, deputy chief constable and chief officer groups, although the directors of the people and the legal functions are shared. 

Common geography and demographics: Our geography and the mix of rural, coastal and urban communities offer similar policing challenges. Tourism is an important contributor to the economy of Dorset, Devon and Cornwall and all three counties share similar population demographics.

Common commitment to local policing: Both forces continue to be committed to sustaining an effective local policing service to the public and retaining local identity.

Shared leadership and policing values: Both forces also share very similar values and have embraced the College of Policing's Code of Ethics.

Common goals for efficiency and investment: The need to continue to reduce costs, improve efficiency  and resilience, and to invest in tackling new and emerging threats is common to both forces.

Shared track record of performance: Both forces have a history of strong performance and we have broadly similar policing styles.

Well used to working together: Dorset Police and Devon & Cornwall Police are both part of the South West Regional Police Force Collaboration Programme and are already well used to working together.

Together the two forces handle more than a million emergency and non-emergency calls and respond to more than 118,000 incidents of recorded crime each year.

More than 4,100 police officers and 2,500 police staff work within the two forces within the strategic alliance – in addition they employ more than 1,200 PCSOs and special constables.

The combined budgets of Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police in 2015/16 exceeded £394 million.

£145 million represents the combined budgets of the business areas within the remit of the strategic alliance.

£12 million is the value of combined annual savings targeted as a result of working together through the alliance programme. This is forecast in 2022/23.

Cornwall, Devon and Dorset have a combined population of 2.48 million – rising to more than 2.9 million in the summer months, during which time more than 14 million tourists and day trippers visit the three counties.

The geographic area covered by the two forces within the alliance exceeds 4,900 square miles.

The two forces police around 850 miles of coastline, including 220 miles of heritage coast and two of the world's largest natural harbours.

The distance by road from the western most to the eastern most point of our geography is around 200 miles. As the crow flies the distance from east to west is around 180 miles.

The areas of police and support work included within the strategic alliance agreement accounts for almost 40% of the total activity of the two forces.

The first alliance teams went live in April 2016. By December 2017 this had risen to a total of 19 alliance departments and teams that are now working as single units supporting the operational and administrative needs of both forces. More than a 1,200 officers and staff work in these shared business areas.

Business support areas where alliance teams have already started working together include administrative services; audit, insurance and risk; business support services; finance; fleet services; information assurance; information compliance; ICT and the people/HR functions.

Operational policing activities where alliance teams have been established include ANPR; firearms/armed response; crime prevention; dogs; integrated offender management; operations planning; roads policing and operations command.                                                                                                     

  • £396 million – The combined budgets of Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police.
  • £145 million – Combined budgets of the business areas within the remit of the alliance.
  • £12 million – Value of combined annual savings targeted by 2018 as a result of working in the alliance.
  • 2.43 million – The population of the three counties covered by the two forces within the alliance. The number rises to more than 2.9 million in the summer months with more than 14 million tourists and day trippers visiting the three counties during the holiday season.
  • Almost 5,000 square miles - The geographic area covered by the two forces within alliance.
  • More than 850 miles – The length coastline policed by the alliance, including 220 miles of heritage coast and two of the World’s largest natural harbours.
  • 200 miles - The distance by road from the western most to the eastern most point of our geography. As the crow flies the distance from east to west is around 180 miles.
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