The joint agreement with Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Constabularies Specialist Operations will be finishing in Spring 2019. For the past few years, we have collaborated with those Forces sharing the deployment, training and certain aspects of control with firearms, roads policing and dogs. It was hoped it would bring cost savings to the respective forces at a time when the Comprehensive Spending Review demanded cuts in policing.
Concerns were raised from the beginning by the Respective Federations and each has been working tirelessly to assist each of the Forces in attempting to resolve the concerns which were raised. Some cost savings were achieved but we felt it struggled with supporting its officers in a number of different aspects such as excessive hours, continually backfilling vacancies in the other Forces and a haphazard approach to HR functions. Over the past few years a number of different reviews and a considerable amount of work has been completed in trying to move the collaboration forward, but this has proved to be a task too far for some.
During the past few months’ notice to terminate the existing agreement was given and there was a real desire to agree a new “Host Force” Collaboration. Such a move was always supported by Avon and Somerset Federation, which it hoped would bring greater protection of the officers and enhanced well-being with support from certain business areas, such as a single Resource Unit and working practices.
It is now apparent that an agreement cannot be reached and as such we support the decision to restore the Specialist Operations solely back to the communities of Avon and Somerset. Andy Roebuck, Avon and Somerset Chair, who had spent a number of years on Specialist Operations and Tri- Force said, “We have always supported such collaborations, as we felt there was a benefit to our communities and to the staff. However, since its inauguration we have been met with a number of concerns and a lack in ability to resolve a magnitude of staff worries. This impacted on the ability of officers being deployed in the Avon and Somerset areas. We agree that Avon and Somerset Constabulary has attempted to push this collaboration forward, but we are now left supporting the decision that has been made. We will work with the Constabulary to ensure the staff are returned to their respective business areas in a fair and proportionate way”.