NUMS heralds the start of a dynamic process for the future provision and supply of police uniform

The National Uniform Managed (NUMS) project is about to significantly change the way that UK Police forces buy their uniform. This new project has been established to change the way that forces and other organisations approach the life-cycle procurement of uniform clothing.

NUMS picThe NUMS project aims to significantly change the way in which the police and other organisations procure their uniform clothing. The NUMS Project team has been engaging with suppliers and stakeholders in advance of the initiation of procurement proceedings. This project is being led by the Metropolitan Police, Home Office and with input from key stakeholder groups.

The Metropolitan Police Service issued a Prior Information Notice, to enable NUMS to engage with the market to understand and explore the full potential of a set of nationally consolidated, centrally managed services to supply force specific/identifiable uniform and equipment. Suppliers were asked to participate in helping to revolutionise a key aspect of police visibility.

NUMS has engaged with police forces and the collaborating partners under the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and the Home Office Collaborative Police Procurement Programme (CPPPB), including but not limited to police forces (including British Transport Police (BTP) and United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA)) in England and Wales. NUMS has received 46 expressions of interest from forces and organisations, which have expressed an interest to take part. This is a first time it’s ever happened; the Permanent Secretary said NUMS is a new approach to uniform and addresses a diverse and complex landscape.

Engage with potential bidders

NUMS main objective has been to engage with potential bidders capable of managing the consistent, uninterrupted supply of a wide range of diverse uniform clothing and equipment products with which to contract. Over the past year, the NUMS team, with representation from ACPO, the Metropolitan Police and Home Office, has conducted a number of high-level studies, working with both other public sector departments and private sector organisations. Data has been gathered to understand what strategic opportunities there are for the delivery of police uniforms – that data will form the basis of the project.

Through significant communication efforts, the team has gauged reaction to the initiative and has sought to incorporate feedback, so that the design of the procurement initiative represents what is best for the Police Service, but also recognises the needs of the UK marketplace and suppliers. The data collection phase is ongoing and will be used to inform the contract specification and the baseline to measure success.

The Police Service is keen to ensure that the NUMS supplier acknowledges and adheres to their duty to ensure the integrity of its supply chain in accordance with the highest social and ethical standards and that for each tier of the supply chain there is a formal process to transparently maintain an up to date Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) management system. This system will also recognise the wider agenda of sustainability in terms of the social, economic and environmental impact of its own and its supplier operations. The NUMS supplier will be obliged to report centrally on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, resource consumption, waste disposal, social inclusion, diversity, community regeneration, working conditions, SME participation and skills promotion.

Contract management

Managing a contract of this size is a considerable task for the Metropolitan Police who will be the Contracting Authority, and who will work closely with suppliers to see that uniform supply is managed responsibly, consistently and efficiently. In addition, a user group with representation from all forces is to be set up which will feedback to the Contracting Authority on issues of specification, supply and user engagement. Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne said, “The MPS is leading on the procurement contract for the National Uniform Managed Service (NUMS), and look forward to helping towards the standardisation of uniform.

Savings to be made

In March 2013 the National Audit Office reported that police forces had ‘a minimum of nine separate specifications for each of five common items of equipment used by police officers. Forces have also found it particularly hard to agree common specifications for uniform. If forces could replicate cost reductions achieved through standardising uniforms, as in the prison service, they could save around £2.6m a year’.

In September 2013, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said, “Police forces pay widely varying prices for very similar items, which means money is being wasted. This is even the case where items are identical. It cannot be right that prices paid for the same type of high-visibility jacket varied by as much as 33 percent. With central funding being cut, police forces must ensure they get best value for money from procurement so that they can focus resources on fighting crime. Forces can make big savings through bulk buying of items, but have been unable to agree on the simple things, like how many pockets they should have on their uniforms.

“Recommendations were made and forces should determine where the greatest benefits could be achieved through either standardisation or national procurement.

“NUMS will lead The Police Service into a very exciting and dynamic process for the future provision and supply of Police uniform. Historically, due to the police landscape and other priorities uniform procurement can be fragmented and uncoordinated, with limited opportunity for national product development or standardisation of uniform support processes and the associated benefits that these methods can bring. This project gives us an opportunity to bring the police service completely up to date with other public and private sector organisations in their approach to the design, sourcing and supply of uniform clothing.”

Standardisation and best practice

Recently, several regions and project groups have made significant strides in changing the way uniform is procured, but this new national project has been launched to review the whole of the supply chain, processes and practises associated with uniform procurement and supply to end-user with a view to standardisation and best practice through output specifications.

Having such a wide variety of police uniforms has long been recognised as highly undesirable and a sub-optimal use of resources. To ensure user satisfaction and get what is best for the service, a very diverse stakeholder group has been created as part of the project to ensure all interests can be reflected.

The tendering process will begin shortly and the NUMS team looks forward to an exciting time ahead.