The Lincolnshire Police Authority is about to sign a contract worth more than £200 million to outsource a large range of operational and business services, including ICT, to G4S.
The contract is believed to be the widest in its scope awarded by a UK police authority.
Under the 10-year contract, which is set to be signed this week, private security firm G4S will provide a range of services that the Lincolnshire Police believes will result in £28 million in savings and help to free up resources for frontline policing services.
"Over the period of the contract this new approach will make significant savings, whilst also providing investment in key areas like IT infrastructure.
"The subsequent streamlining of processes will free up officer time to concentrate on operational policing," said Lincolnshire Police Authority chairman Barry Young and chief constable Richard Crompton, in a joint statement.
The government announced 20 percent cuts to the police budget in 2010, to be achieved by 2014/15. For the Lincolnshire Police Authority, this meant it needed to cut £20.8 million over four years.
Business support services to be provided by G4S include ICT, HR services, HR learning and development, assets and facilities management, including fleet management, finance and procurement and support services.
Operational services that will be provided include the crime management bureau, central ticket office and collisions unit, criminal justice unit, custody and ID unit and force control room, where emergency calls are handled.
Lincolnshire Police stressed that management-level police officers are, and will continue to be, employed in the force control room, while the control of 'custody suites' (the police cells) will be managed and monitored by police sergeants.
These business and operations services are currently being provided in-house, apart from payroll, which is being supplied by infrastructure and businesses services company Mouchel. The contract with Mouchel is separate from the shared services contract that Lincolnshire County Council holds with the supplier.
Chief inspector Steve Taylor, who is in the transformation project team at Lincolnshire Police, said that the force decided not to share services with the council because most of its requirements were specific to the police mid- and back-office.
Following the contract signing, the outsourcing contract is due to start on 1 April 2012. According to the Lincolnshire Echo, the force employs 980 full-time civilian staff, and Taylor confirmed that around 600 of these will transfer to G4S. The remaining civilian staff will continue to work alongside the force's 1,100 officers.
There is also an opportunity under the contract for G4S to replace one of its nine existing stations by building a bespoke custody building in the grounds of the Lincolnshire Police Headquarters.
Furthermore, the services delivered under the partnership will also be open to other policing authorities.
"If additional authorities decide to obtain services through the contract, they could be provided from Lincolnshire – potentially giving a boost to local employment," Lincolnshire Police added.
However, Sarah Burnett, research director of public sector business process outsourcing (BPO) at Nelson Hall, said that the take-up of shared services offerings has not been strong to date.
She said: "So far, for those who hope for shared services, they haven't really materialised. But with more pressure on budgets, that situation may well change."
The number of options for shared services providers are also growing, for example, West Midlands Police and Surrey Police recently tendered for a transformation services framework agreement, worth up to £3.5 billion, including IT, which will be offered to police forces across England and Wales.
The news came days after Essex Police launched its own £400 million framework agreement with Northgate Information Services for a crime, intelligence and defendant management system for several local police authorities.
Meanwhile, Burnett pointed out that as G4S are not known for their back office outsourcing services, they were extending their usual service offerings.
Contracts G4S currently holds with police forces include providing custody services Lancashire, Staffordshire and South Wales Police, as well as forensic medical services to 13 forces across the UK.