PA Consulting - Is it time for the police to think again about outsourcing?


As the global economy emerges from the pandemic, the UK has seen a spate of corporate takeovers. A key consideration during any acquisition is the ‘fit’ between the two organisations and the need to avoid stretching too thin and too far. There’s always the risk that, as a company diversifies, it tries to be good at too many things and ends up being unsuccessful.

Here, Neil Amos argues that the diversification of policing has brought with it similar risks - and that reopening the question of outsourcing routine back-office functions may be an answer.

The stock market is an excitable place at the best of times, but recent activity has seen it reaching new levels of giddiness. Not only are shares and investments powering back towards pre-COVID-19 levels, but also global investors are looking at the UK and seeing that companies here are still relatively undervalued: undoubtedly a legacy of pre-Brexit anxiety. As a result, the level of acquisition activity, companies buying companies, is at a level that has not been seen for several years.

Exciting and profitable as this may be, it also carries risk, not least when the companies do different things. Writing in The Times, recently, Patrick Hosking highlighted the risk of diversification - recalling the time in 1987 when the advertising agency, Saatchi & Saatchi revealed tentative plans to buy the, then, Midland Bank. He asked whether it was better for companies to focus their efforts on being good at a limited number of things - to ‘stick to the knitting’.

The challenge of diversification in policing has come about in a different way but nevertheless, it’s real. If you look at the organisational structure or annual report of a police force from the late 1980s, you’ll see a much simpler organisation. Since then, a combination of the digital transformation of our world, rising public expectation and hugely improved understanding of vulnerability have led forces to become much more complex entities. Ask a chief constable of those years about MOSOVO, RASSO, MAPPA or CAIU and they probably wouldn’t know what you were talking about but today we decipher these acronyms to discover serious and complex risk management activity.

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