Collaboration: barriers, risks and assurance

11 September 2017

The Policing and Crime Act 2017 places a statutory duty on police, fire and ambulance services to keep collaboration opportunities under review and enter into collaboration when it is in the best interests of efficient and effective service delivery.

HMIC defined collaboration as:

all activity where two or more parties work together to achieve a common goal, which includes inter force activity and collaboration with the public and private sectors, including outsourcing and business partnering.

We have found that collaboration across the emergency services has already been seen in a number of initiatives such as:

  • sharing headquarters;
  • joint vehicle workshop / fleet procurement and management;
  • shared training centre;
  • joint control rooms;
  • multi force shared service;
  • emergency first response;
  • community safety responders;
  • internal audit services; and
  • consulting and advisory services.

The Emergency Services Collaboration Working Group issued a National Overview report at the end of 2016 which set out many examples of collaborative working both across the emergency services and with wider partners and organisations; how the schemes were implemented in practice, and the benefits realised to date.

As ideas and opportunities to collaborate across public services and beyond become greater, there are a number of factors that need to be considered to ensure that joint working arrangements are subject to the required planning, approval and continuous review, to enable the required outcomes and benefits to be realised, both financially and non-financially. We have identified a few of the areas below that you should consider when thinking about your potential collaborative arrangements.

Business case / planning

Throughout our work to support the Emergency Services sector as they develop their arrangements for collaborative activities, we have seen good practice in the preparation, scrutiny and approval of business cases at the outset. However, we have identified a need to further improve on the identification of measurable objectives, and the setting of financial plans based on realistic costing, rather than the required savings.

It is also worth noting that we have so far identified a lack of thorough and transparent due diligence being undertaken when entering into collaborative arrangements. This is not seen as an essential requirement when dealing with other public bodies, however, as the collaborative remit expands to include private organisations, it would be prudent to have due diligence arrangements in place.

Collaborative agreements

To be able to deliver and meet the set requirements of a collaborative project, there must be signed agreements in place between all partners, which set out clear deliverables and performance measures to which partners are held to account. These agreements should be reviewed and refreshed periodically as the project progresses to account for changing or additional project streams and ensure that the performance measures are providing the information and benefits required.

The full article also covers governance, risk management and assurance of the collaboration, cost/ benefit analysis and the barriers to effective collaboration. Download now.