Doing it justice

The tight fiscal future for criminal justice services

• The current Spending Review provides for 23 per cent real term resource savings in the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice before 2014-15.
• The next Spending Review is likely to include significant further cuts to policing and justice. If healthcare spending is protected in line with GDP, and cuts are shared equally across other departments, criminal justice spending will fall by 3.4 per cent per annum in real terms between 2014-15 and 2016-17.
• Prior to the current Spending Review period, criminal justice services had enjoyed a long period of generous funding increases. In 2009, the UK spent the largest amount on law and order as a proportion of GDP of any country in the OECD. Its expenditure of 2.8 per cent of GDP compared to 2.3 per cent in the USA and 1.3 per cent in France.

The criminal justice and emergency services workforce

• Criminal justice and emergency services are responding to the tight spending environment by innovating and changing their ways of working. In fact, budgetary restraints in criminal justice have allowed organisations to innovate and deliver better services in a way not seen in services with protected budgets, such as schools and healthcare. Leading fire and rescue services have demonstrated greatest innovation.

The Government’s programme for reform

• In July 2012, the Government published the White Paper Swift and sure justice: The Government’s plans for criminal justice reform. The White Paper proposed two key ideas. First, it set the goal of transforming criminal justice “from an uncoordinated and fragmented system into a seamless and efficient service”. Second, it suggested that Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) should be the agents to achieve that integration, and asked how best for that to happen.
• The opportunity is to make significant reductions in spending through reduction in crime and consequent reductions and changes in level and type of workforce. By shifting to fire prevention, leading fire and rescue services have been able to achieve higher performance and lower headcount of fulltime fire fighters.

Why integrate criminal justice and emergency services?

  • This report lists 27 successful national and local initiatives in the UK to integrate criminal justice and emergency services. It also presents four detailed UK and international case studies.
  • The 27 initiatives show that the following types of services are already working successfully together:
  • Different police forces, for example to deliver shared back office services. Example: Kent Police and Essex Police.
  • Police, probation, courts and local government, for example through the co-location of services within a community court. Example: North Liverpool Community Justice Court.
  • Fire and ambulance services, for example by training fire crews to administer medical treatment before ambulance staff. Example: Hampshire Fire and Rescue and South Central Ambulance Service co-responder scheme
  • Police, fire and rescue and ambulance services, for example via a shared emergency control centre and through co-location of staff and equipment. Examples: TriService Gloucestershire
  • Police forces and the Crown Prosecution Service. Example: Glidewell Criminal Justice Units.
  • Prisons and probation services. Examples: HMP Parc and Wales Probation Trust.
  • The case studies demonstrate the benefits of such integration, including significant reductions in crime, improved performance and reduced costs of administration:
  • In Glasgow, the Violence Reduction Unit has reduced violent crime by 38 per cent and improved police detection rates by a fifth since 2006 by bringing together police, local authority and health services in an integrated way.
  • In Gloucestershire, the creation of a joint emergency command and control centre for police, fire and ambulance services has improved effectiveness and delivered better value for money than surrounding areas.
  • In Warwickshire, bringing probation, courts, police and crown prosecution services together in a single “one-stop shop” for justice has improved the experience of victims and witness while realising one-off cashable savings of £9.5 million and ongoing cashable savings of £800,000 a year.

Why Police and Crime Commissioners?

• The Government is right to identify PCCs as the best integrator of criminal justice services. Most importantly, PCCs have clear accountability at the local level, which is appropriate for nearly all criminal justice services. They can claim a democratic mandate to change criminal justice services in order to reduce crime. Further, PCCs have an incentive to achieve change in order to improve value for money. That would enable them to deliver reductions in local taxation to their electorates.
• The majority of police force areas offer a ready-made area for integration. 26 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales have complete or near-complete coterminous boundaries with fire authorities and probation trusts. Of these, five forces also have boundaries that coincide with local court management, including London, which has complete co-terminosity between all criminal justice and emergency services.


  • The Government should devolve responsibility and budgets for the following criminal justice and emergency services to PCCs:
  • Police
  • Prisons
  • Probation
  • Courts management
  • Youth offending
  • Fire and rescue services
  • Ambulance services
  • As a result the budgets of PCCs would double. PCCs will inherit a total budget of £13.4 billion for England and Wales. Under these proposals, the total budget would increase to £26.8 billion.
  • PCCs will act as commissioners and hold the providers of these services to account. PCCs will have discretion over which services to put to competition (with some exceptions, such as front-line policing, risk assessment of offenders and advice to courts). The success in competition so far, for example the tendering of prisons, should encourage PCCs to explore new forms of competition, including fire and rescue services and ambulances.
  • PCCs should also seek to promote co-location between services and more flexible working, including flexibility to set pay and conditions, performance management and appointment of staff, and management of service delivery.
  • For prisons, as the budget holders, Police and Crime Commissioners would competitively commission prison places directly from prisons based on cost and value for money. National government would continue to extend the competition regime for prison management.
  • The Judiciary and the Crown Prosecution Service would remain independent of Police and Crime Commissioners in order to protect the independence of the law. It would make sense to restructure the CPS from 13 areas to 42 areas in order to facilitate better integration.
  • These reforms would mean devolving responsibility from the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and local authorities to Police and Crime Commissioners for the above services. PCCs would take on statutory responsibility for the provision of all sentence demands incurred from a crime committed in their local area and would be held accountable by local citizens in elections every four years, as currently set out in the 2011 Police and Social Responsibility Act.