Police set to spend £150,000 – to help save cash

Councillor Les Carter. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
Councillor Les Carter. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

The region’s largest police force is paying a former colleague of suspended chief constable Mark Gilmore up to £150,000 in consultancy fees to lead its controversial cost-cutting scheme.

Roy Toner, a former Assistant Chief Constable in Northern Ireland, has been hired by West Yorkshire Police to be the strategic director of its “Programme of Change” after the senior officer in charge of the scheme left earlier this year.

After taking on the role through his consultancy firm Jalaro Associates, which provides “strategic advice for transformational change programmes in ‘blue light’ emergency services”, Mr Toner has been working at the force since April.

The initial six-month contract, which is for up to 20 days a month, can be extended by the force for to up to 18 months and will have “a total contract value over that period of no more than £150,000”.

Mr Toner was brought in after Assistant Chief Constable Craig Guildford, the officer in charge of radically restructuring the force to cope with the impact of austerity cuts, left to join Gwent Police in Wales.

West Yorkshire Police says these circumstances created an “immediate, unplanned and urgent need” to find a replacement, without which the force could have be in danger of “reputational and financial” damage.

The force says the contract offered to Mr Toner was not advertised as Jalaro was commissioned using an “approved, urgent procurement exception process”. According to public records, Mr Guildford’s salary for six months last year was £47,747.

Leeds councillor Les Carter, a member of West Yorkshire’s police and crime panel, which scrutinises the work of police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, said he thought many people would be left scratching their heads over the decision. “Spending up to £150,000 on a consultant to tell the police how they can cut costs seems like a high price tag in these challenging times,” he added.

“West Yorkshire Police has many capable senior officers who could have stepped up to do this work.”

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said last night: “The contract with Jalaro Associates can be extended subject to review to a maximum period of 18 months with a total contract value over that period of no more than £150,000.

“The strategic director of the Programme of Change reports directly to the Chief Constable and leads the strategic transformational change required to deliver a service to the communities of West Yorkshire whilst meeting the constraints of reducing budgets. He does not undertake any other duties.

“Crime in West Yorkshire is at its lowest level for 30 years. The Programme of Change is central to this success and to ensuring that we continue to deliver an efficient and effective police service, while making the significant financial savings required both now and in the future.”

He added: “Jalaro Associates have considerable experience in the delivery of significant transformational change programmes and have been able to support the force by fulfilling an urgent and pressing organisational requirement at a time of considerable organisational challenge.”

Since Mr Guildford’s departure Assistant Chief Constable Ingrid Lee has also left to join South Yorkshire Police, though Russ Foster is set to join as Assistant Chief Constable from Northamptonshire Police later this year.

Chief constable Mark Gilmore has been suspended by the force since June, and could face bribery and misconduct in public office charges in his native Northern Ireland as part of a probe into the award of vehicle contracts.

Mr Gilmore, born and bred in Belfast, worked at the Police Service of Northern Ireland from 1983 to 2008, rising to superintendent. Mr Toner served at the force from 1981 to 2009.

According to his profile on the website LinkedIn, Mr Toner is the ‘managing director’ of Jalaro and has worked for outsourcing group G4S Policing Support Services.

In response to Government funding cuts, West Yorkshire Police is transforming the way it does business through the programme of change scheme, making more than £100 million in savings over four years and seeing officer numbers drop below 5,000.

Last month it was revealed that the scheme was having a damaging impact on morale, with a survey revealing that only one in 10 of the staff and officers trust their senior managers.

A spokesman for police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said: “The Chief Constable’s organisational programme of change is important as the unprecedented government cuts here mean that we need to find £157 million savings from the police budget whilst continually improving police performance for our communities.

“To make sure we are providing best value here in West Yorkshire this contract is for an initial six months and is subject to review.”