Police chiefs have slammed a government report which claimed that forces could save £250m a year by providing stronger business management training for new recruits.
Officers would be given training on finance issues and resource management as part of their induction process, under the Treasury’s Delivering a Step Change in Police Productivity proposals. Force managers would also have to oversee budgets and monitor overtime and sickness absence costs.
But Alan Gordon, vice- chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank-and-file officers, said the government needed to realise that policing was a service, not a business.
“One cannot help but recognise the irony when the police service is being told to make savings through better management by a government department which cannot tell us how many prisoners are on the run or how many illegal immigrants there are,” he said.
The Association of Police Authorities (APA) said it was considering the paper, but the government’s expectations were “unrealistic”.
A spokesman said: “Police authorities and chief officers are committed to maintaining their impressive track record in efficiency targets, and more gains can be made, but it is unrealistic to expect that ever increasing efficiencies can be found and used to balance budgets.”
But Simon Shaw, head of HR at North Wales Police, said he thought the report had some “very sensible” suggestions. “The police service is already moving towards becoming more efficient and looking at best business practice,” he said. “Management training for new recruits is a worthwhile investment.”
Tim Brain, chief constable for Gloucestershire Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead on resourcing, said the government needed to assess the financial implications of the report. “I don’t think the Treasury understands the amount of training that already takes place within the police service,” he said.