How police forces can be response-ready with accurate fleet data

8th June 2023

In this latest instalment in our insight series, we wanted to explore the challenges that face fleet managers in ensuring their fleets are emergency-response ready.

At Civica, we have over 40 years of experience working with fleet management and we have used this knowledge and insight to support emergency services across the UK.

The demand for improved emergency response

Calling for an emergency response can quite literally be a matter of life and death. A call to the emergency services is made on average once every three seconds, meaning nearly 29,000 calls are made every single day. In recent years there has been an increased focus in the time it takes for officers to respond to a crime. Recent figures show that between 2011 and 2018 response time to grade-1 calls nearly doubled, going from 6.5 minutes to 12.5 minutes.

It’s clear police forces are facing some hard challenges to are making response time targets difficult to achieve; they continue to be struck with ever-increasing demands that push their resources to the limit. While the wider public sector is also burdened with these problems, the police face additional operational complexities, budget constraints, and legislative restrictions; all whilst under the microscope of public scrutiny. These challenges, sadly, are not going anywhere soon; it is crucial for forces to find ways to optimize their operations and maximize their efficiency.

Home office and National police chief priorities

Mirroring the government’s strategic policing requirement 2023, the National Police Chiefs Council identified the key priority themes for focus and delivery to achieve the policing vision for 2030. Broken into its simplest form, their focus is to be the most trusted and engaged policing service in the world working together to make communities safer and stronger. An efficient fleet is essential to achieving this goal and keeping our communities safe.

Other factors, aside from regulatory pressures, can cause response time issues. According to the National office of Statistics, throughout 2022 there were 6.6 million reported crimes, which is 11% higher than pre-covid-lockdown figures. Compared to 2021, vehicle offenses have increased 14% and robbery 15.4%.

These increases create added strain on fleets that are already stretched and often more aged than in previous years.

Proactive, preventative, time and cost saving

While pressures have increased over the years, Police and emergency service fleet managers have the power to minimise disturbance and decrease call out time. The role of technology plays a significant part by aiding the management, maintenance and repair planning of fleets.

With regular vehicle checks and maintenance, police vehicles can be less likely to experience unexpected breakdowns or malfunctions. This can reduce the risk to both the public and officers, especially in critical situations where every second counts.

Properly maintained vehicles can also reduce the maintenance costs over time. Regular checks can spot problems before they worsen and become more expensive to repair. This could save costs, allowing budget to be saved and spent elsewhere. Planned repairs are easier to manage than reactive (often preventable) maintenances.

In the future, we will undoubtably see further changes to both the types of crimes being responded to and the vehicles used to respond. However, it remains that fleets will still play a critical role in the expectations of the emergency service to respond.

These issues cannot be fixed overnight, however over time we can achieve goals, build trust, and help citizens in their most vulnerable moments.