Kent and Essex Collaboration
Essex Police began collaborating with Kent Police in 2007 and the
Kent/Essex Collaboration Team was formed.
Much has already been achieved to date and
both organisations are committed to identifying further ways in
which collaboration can help to provide better policing services
for the citizens of Kent and Essex.
This collaboration agreement does not preclude
either force from pursuing other collaborative options, either
within their respective regions or with other partners.
The journey so
In January 2007, the police authority chairs and Chief Constables
of both Essex Police and Kent Police met to discuss the
potential for collaboration and, three months later, the first
joint police authority meeting was held, at which the decision
was made to pursue 'full collaboration on Operational Functions and
Support Services, whilst maintaining operational independence'.
Since then, the collaboration programme has achieved a number of
successes, including the sharing of air support and marine services
and the formation of a pioneering joint IT Directorate – the first
of its kind in England and Wales - which is developing a
comprehensive IT infrastructure to support both forces.
This will enable police officers and staff from both counties to
work cohesively and more efficiently.
In 2010, together, we also created one of the largest joint
serious and organised crime units in the UK – the Kent and
Essex Serious Crime Directorate (SCD).
It consists of six key departments dedicated to tackling serious
and organised criminality across both counties, including the
investigation of murders and serious sexual assaults and the
targeting of organised criminal groups, drug dealers and
This encompasses areas such as HR, Finance, Transport
Services, Property Services, Procurement
Services and business services centres.
In September 2012, a Section 22A
Agreement was formally approved for the newly-established
Support Services Directorate.
The main aim of collaboration is for both counties to benefit
from an improved policing service through
- more effective and efficient use of resources – including
police officers and staff, buildings and vehicles etc
- achieving better value for money.
Governance for the collaboration programme is provided by a
Joint Statutory Committee – comprising chairs, vice-chairs and
Performance Committee chairs of both police authorities, supported
by the chief executives and treasurers of both police authorities
and the chief constables of both forces.
Through our collaboration with Kent, we want to use our
resources more effectively and put more officers on the front line,
something the public always tell us they want.
This joint working – the Serious Crime and IT directorates – was
formalised on September 30, 2010, when both forces and police
authorities signed Section 23
Agreements confirming the terms under which they will
collaborate. An earlier agreement, covering the provision by Essex
Police of air support services to Kent Police, was in place from
April 1, 2008, to September 30, 2012, when the National Police Air
Since the creation of the Kent/Essex Collaboration Programme in
2007, other significant benefits to both forces from collaborative
working include the establishment of several Memoranda of
Understanding (MOUs) – covering such areas as specialist search,
firearms intervention teams and specialist vehicles.
And reviews are carried out to identify areas where our business
can be performed differently in order to provide significant
improvements and/or alternatives to our service delivery and also
areas where efficiencies can be made.
There have been significant financial
benefits. By the end of the 2011/12 financial year, approximately
£20.5million cost savings had been identified across both
forces, of which approximately £9.5million had been
One of the collaboration programme's strategic
objectives is to deliver a further £12million savings to both
forces by 2015 through joint working, in addition to enhancing
their Protective Services capabilities, increasing resilience
and reducing risk.
Collaboration is proving that large
savings can be made but, more importantly, that our service to the
public can be improved.
framework agreement* has been signed by Essex Police Authority for
a new ‘one-stop’ IT system which will help police to identify
criminals more quickly and cut crime.
Not only will Project Athena improve front-line policing, it will
save police forces time and money, helping to improve the service
they provide to the public.
Project Athena is the largest-ever collaborative police IT
project** and will be delivered by Northgate Public Services.
The seven ‘early adopters’ – Essex, Bedfordshire,
Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk – will be
paying a total of £32million during the lifetime of the agreement
but the costs to each force will drop as and when more forces come
Essex Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle said: “The
collaboration and the technology that underpins this initiative
will significantly improve the lives of people in the communities
“We will be better able to investigate crime, support victims
and reduce threat and harm to vulnerable people.
“Athena is a key tool in the fight against crime, ensuring that
we see the complete picture relating to our offenders. Information
will be linked as soon as records are created, thus a full picture
of a person or location will rapidly be built up and can be viewed
across all forces using the system."
Essex Police Authority chairman Anthony Jackson said: “Essex
Police Authority is proud of the important part played by the Essex
and Kent IT team and the collaboration and support of the six other
founding police authorities in bringing into being this powerful
tool in the fight against crime.
“That it brings not only improved performance but also at a
significantly lower cost sets a benchmark for the future and should
fuel the nationwide interest of other forces to join the Athena
Until now, police forces have largely managed data on offenders,
suspects, victims and incidents on different systems at a local
level. This made it a challenge to share information quickly with
Athena, however, will be a single IT system managing police
investigations, intelligence and defendants (both custody and case
preparation) across all member forces, giving front-line police
officers and staff in those forces access to more detailed and
up-to-date information, while reducing bureaucracy. This will help
them to build comprehensive ‘pictures’, both of suspects and of
crime and incident patterns, more swiftly.
Officers and staff at each phase of the criminal justice process
– from report to court – will be able to view all records for the
suspect from each member force and from all other stages of the
process. This will mean that a suspect arrested for crimes
committed in any of the Athena force areas can be dealt with for
all offences in one custody suite without the need for the suspect
to be transferred between each force and processed for crimes
committed exclusively in that force area.
Time will be saved after a suspect is arrested, as those
officers working in custody and preparing cases will automatically
have access to all the intelligence already held about a
And, in line with recommendations of the 2004 Bichard***
Inquiry, the new system will let each force share a much wider set
of operational police data with officers and staff in other forces.
Historically, such day-to-day police information has been shared
between local forces upon request, which is both time-consuming and
results in delays.
Ian Blackhurst, Executive Director of Northgate Public Services,
commented: “This project is a huge step forward in policing and is
a signal that forces are embracing collaboration in order to work
more effectively together and in doing so reduce administrative
“We will use our understanding of UK policing to deliver a safe
and secure system that transforms police operations. It will result
in vastly improved services to the public, at a significantly lower
overall cost, which is great news in these times of austerity.”
Athena is due to be received by Essex Police towards
the end of 2012, and the force will be the first to go
‘online’ in 2013. The system will be managed centrally, in
partnership with Northgate, helping to save forces money by
reducing the need for ongoing management of multiple IT
Athena is supported by the National Policing Improvement Agency
(NPIA) as part of the national strategy for police IT (ISIS)****.
NPIA chief executive Chief Constable Nick Gargan said: "The NPIA
has been very happy to support the collaborative work undertaken by
the forces involved in Project Athena as part of the Information
Systems Improvement Strategy.
"When Athena comes to fruition, we will see front-line officers
who are able to make better use of better information. The 'Athena
forces' have done exactly what everyone agrees needs to happen but
which is sometimes stubbornly difficult to achieve."
Athena will replace up to ten existing police IT systems in each
force, all of which cost money to maintain and upgrade and will
eventually require replacing. The money the ‘early adopters’ are
spending will be significantly less than that they would have to
spend on replacing each individual existing IT system.
The agreement can be used by any other police authority or law
enforcement agency in the UK – several others have already
expressed an interest, further reducing opportunities for criminals
to operate across geographic boundaries.
About Project Athena
Project Athena is a joint police project to which seven police
forces have signed up so far. The forces currently signed up to
this project are Essex, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire,
Hertfordshire, Kent, Suffolk and Norfolk.
About Northgate Public
Northgate Public Services is a leading supplier of software and
services to public services. Northgate’s customers include 98% of
local authorities and 100% of police forces and it has systems in
use at every NHS hospital. Northgate works with customers to
improve services for local people using technology, service
redesign and outsourcing. Northgate Public Services is part of the
Northgate Information Solutions group, which currently employs more
than 12,000 staff and operates in 46 countries across five
continents. The original company was founded in 1969. Northgate
Information Solutions is privately-owned.
Framework agreement: a framework is an agreement with suppliers to
establish terms governing contracts that may be awarded during the
life of the agreement. In other words, it is a general term for
agreements that set out terms and conditions for making specific
** outside of a nationally-driven IT project
**** ISIS: The Information Systems Improvement Strategy is a
reform programme for the police service which views IT as an
enabler for business change. It will release savings, delivering
operational improvements across policing and into the wider
criminal justice system, and is founded upon the consensus that
police ICT can be delivered in a more consistent and affordable
manner. It is approved by both the National Policing Improvement
Agency (NPIA) and the Association of Chief
Police Officers (ACPO).
Both Essex Police and Kent Police are engaged in collaboration,
where beneficial, with other forces and other partners:
- Essex with the Eastern Region police forces – Bedfordshire,
Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk. This includes
participation in the Regional Asset Recovery Team, the Counter
Terrorism Intelligence Unit, Eastern Regional Special Operations
Unit, Disaster Victim Identification and Casualty Bureau, along
with mutual aid support.
- Kent with the South East Region police forces – Surrey, Sussex,
Hampshire and Thames Valley
- Essex in collaboration with Essex County Fire and Rescue
Service, including property sharing at appropriate locations
across Essex, thereby releasing capital and reducing building
maintenance costs. Initiatives are in place at
Brightlingsea, Tiptree, Wivenhoe and West Mersea, where the
local neighbourhood policing teams share fire station premises.
Other sites are being assessed for partnership opportunities.
- Kent in collaboration with Kent Fire and Rescue Service for the
provision of emergency control room premises
The rationale for collaboration with other
partners, whether jointly as Kent/Essex or as individual forces,
remains the same.
The opportunity of working collaboratively
will be used to make efficiency savings, meet budget reductions,
enhance resilience, improve capability or increase our
Protective Services capability to protect the public.