Strategic Alliance

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

How we started on the road to an alliance

Dorset Police and Devon & Cornwall Police formally agreed to go into a strategic alliance in March 2015. Being in an alliance means the two forces are working together 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 business area, a single team and management structure, made up from people from both organisations, is being set up to work on behalf of both forces.

Any costs and savings which come from joining these business areas together in the strategic alliance will be shared between the two organisations in proportion to the size of each force.

The common areas of work included within the strategic alliance accounts for almost 40% of the total activity of the two forces.

These business areas include: admin services, finance, human resources, fleet services and information and communication technology (ICT) together with some specialist policing teams. Several of these, including the admin services and finance departments were among the first to go-live as alliance teams in April 2016.

Meanwhile planning continues to design and bring together organisation structures, processes and technology.

So far the strategic alliance project is on track to achieve the initial target of £12m of combined annual savings by 2018.

As well as saving money, working in an alliance will have other benefits as the organisations share more assets, resources, expertise and best practice.

As more teams begin to join together you may see more officers from each force working side by side in your area.

Even in tough economic times, both Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police are committed to sustaining an effective police service to the public. This was the main reason for choosing to work together in an alliance.

Both forces need to continue to save money; improve efficiency, maintain, and even strengthen our resilience; and invest money in tackling new threats, such as cyber-crime.

You may have seen our officers working together to police the region’s roads. This was one of the first successful collaborations and showed how, by working together, we can keep the roads safe across Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.

Working together across geographic boundaries and increasing co-operation will also give us greater capacity to respond to major incidents.


  • Both forces also share very similar values and have embraced the College of Policing’s Code of Ethics.
  • Our geography and the mix of rural, coastal and urban communities who live in our three counties are similar.
  • Both forces have a history of strong performance and we have broadly similar policing styles.
  • There is a lot of trust between our organisations and we already work together in many areas.
  • We are both determined to protect the service our public enjoy and demand.
  • We both want to invest in modernising to meet future threats, despite challenging budgets.

Together, both chief constables and both police and crime commissioners (PCC's) are fully committed to continue building the alliance between our two forces.

The alliance does not stop either force from exploring other collaborations or working with other forces. For example, the five south west forces – Avon & Somerset, Devon & Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire – are working together on an increasing number of projects through the South West Regional Collaboration Programme.

Even in areas where there is no immediate need to work closely together, all decisions and proposals are shared with other forces in the region to make sure all opportunities are considered for collaboration.

The alliance can also support collaboration beyond the five police forces in the south west region. That includes looking at options to work with other services within the public sector, such as the fire service.

  • £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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