Leicestershire Police and its neighbouring forces in the East Midlands have been at the forefront of collaborative policing in the UK for more than a decade.
In fact, the East Midlands Police Collaboration Programme is the largest project of its kind in the UK, serving a population of 4.5 million people living in a region of more than 6,000 square miles an area which incorporates landmarks such as the world famous Silverstone motor racing circuit in southern Northamptonshire, the Lincolnshire coast to the east and the Peak District National Park at its north-western edge.
Under the collaboration arrangements, the five forces of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire are working together in many different areas vital to policing, ranging from major crime investigation through to IT infrastructure.
Since the formation of the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) in 2001 the collaboration programme has evolved and grown.
In 2005, Her Majestys Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) Report 'Closing the Gap' posed the question about how the 43 police forces of England and Wales could best meet the protective service needs of the population.
But rather than merge forces, the Government encouraged forces to work in closer collaboration.
In the East Midlands, the chairs of the former police authorities and chief constables of each of the five forces signed an agreement to formalise the collaborative arrangements that had already begun to take shape.
The agreement was underpinned by three key principles:
- local policing will remain local
- collaboration in operational and non-operational support services should be sought
- the benefits and costs of working collaboratively will be shared between the five forces
In 2010, the region also appointed its own Deputy Chief Constable, Peter Goodman.
In the same year, the first of a wave of significant public sector budget cuts announced by the Coalition government prompted police forces to seek new ways of making efficiencies while also keeping the public safe.
In November 2012, the election of the first Police and Crime Commissioners brought about another fundamental change to the way policing is governed, giving the public a greater say in how their communities are policed.
By focusing on providing a more effective policing response while also reducing costs, the East Midlands Police Collaboration Programme and EMSOU have always and continue to ensure that the gap highlighted by HMIC back in 2005 is closed by bringing together the resources, skills and capability needed to tackle serious and cross-border crime.