The decision follows changes to the operating model that were implemented in 2018, and takes into account the proven efficiency and effectiveness of the revised arrangements.
The Dog Support Unit has delivered benefits and has maintained a level of operational resilience in respect of police dog assets shared across the three police forces. This has weathered the financial pressures faced by each of the forces.
The recommendation of the Chief Constables is that the collaboration has delivered a level of benefits but that these benefits can be maintained without formal collaboration. The maintenance of formal collaboration across the Evolve geographical area is considered by the Chief Constable to hinder or impact on future benefits.
The dog support unit has operated under revised arrangements since its operating model was varied in 2018, by a formal agreement between the three Commissioners and the Chief Constables. The recommendation of the Chief Constables is that following the successful operation of the varied arrangements, the revised operating model should be reintegrated into the individual forces permanently.
The rationale for the Chief Constables’ recommendation is set out below:-
1. Different financial and overall efficiency outcomes have been achieved in each force area.
2. Line management efficiencies have been difficult to sustain for all parties to the collaboration.
3. A number of legal challenges have arisen, connected directly and indirectly with dogs support, during the period of the formal collaboration. In the judgement of the Chief Constables these have impacted on the cohesion and alignment of the joint unit and in turn impacted on the ability of the unit to deliver the full benefits anticipated at its inception.
4. The geographical span of the formally-collaborated Unit has generated a disproportionate wellbeing impact on staff who are required to deploy across three force areas.
5. There has been an impact on the resilience and capability of the Dog Support Unit, in light of some of the above factors, which has meant that the ability to deploy with maximum effectiveness has been adversely affected and this is considered to have resulted in calls for service being difficult to meet.
The Commissioners recognise that the collaboration has provided benefits in improving the design, implementation and planning for collaborative units in order to realise maximum benefits. The unit has delivered a joint governance structure which has demonstrated the benefits of close collaboration and the journey to alignment of culture within collaboration teams, has highlighted the need to support teams entering into a collaborative arrangement throughout the change process and post-implementation.
As a matter of law, Commissioners are required to keep collaborations under review to ensure that collaborations continue to deliver specific benefits and sustain those benefits.
The Commissioners are also required to consider the recommendations of their Chief Constables on matters which relate to the Chief Constables’ operational independence. The delivery of the Dog Support function falls within the operational independence of the Chief Constable and as such recommendations of this kind made by the Chief Constables must be considered carefully by the Commissioners.
In accordance with the Evolve Collaboration Agreement a formal Exit Protocol will be agreed, regulating the transition period and ensuring that the formal collaboration ends on terms which are efficient and effective and which build upon the benefits delivered by the formal collaboration. The Exit Protocol will be published. The Exit Protocol is intended to come into effect on 31 December 2019 (the date for ending the formal collaboration) and to remain in effect until 31 December 2020.
The Commissioners recognise the commitment and the valuable professional service provided to the communities of Cleveland, Durham and North Yorkshire by the Dog Support Units and are assured by the Chief Constables that no reduction in Police Dog support will result from their recommendation.
Mutual aid arrangements will continue to operate across the three Force areas, to meet particular operational demand.