Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140
MONDAY 22 APRIL 2002
140. What you are doing is listing the various
advantages there are going to be out of the system. I understand
that there are going to be advantages. My question is: how did
you decide that those advantages were worth £300 million?
(Mr Gieve) We did not look at it as £300 million
extra, we looked at it as the full cost of Airwave. This is not
a different question from asking whether if we let the Airwave
contract at £1.5 billion over ten years that is going to
produce a service worth £1.5 billion. It is the same judgement.
I do not think we did.
141. It is not necessarily the same judgement,
is it? You might find that there was another potential service
which you could get for £1.4 billion which you knew was a
slightly worse service, but actually better value for money. It
is not just a question of whether Airwave is worth £1.5 billion
but it is a question of whether this is best value for money.
(Mr Gieve) Yes, it is a comparative judgement. The
ACPO review was done on a different basis which did not have a
national requirement, did not have right to roam. It was one among
a different set of options. I suppose my answer to how we decide
whether this is good value for money if we have not priced the
benefits is that it is a political judgement, it is a judgement
shared with the Police Service on what sort of services are worth
doing. Is this a reasonable use of money compared with the other
uses we could make of the police's money in terms of the benefits,
in terms of public order and crime and the service they provide?
142. What you seem to be telling me is that
before you took this decision you had not actually priced the
benefits at all.
(Mr Webb) I think that is stated in the report. In
fact we are doing a benefits realisation exercise: we did start
late in the day; it is now going on; we are putting in place measures
to identify how current policing is done prior to Airwave going
in and the benefits which are approved subsequent to its being
143. Is there anything in the contract which
says if one of these benefits is not delivered a certain sum will
come back to the Police Service?
(Mr Webb) The contract is not determined in terms
of benefits: the contract is determined in terms of delivery of
144. May I just clarify the cost with you? Is
it £1.4 billion fixed cost over the period of the contract
and then £180 million of annual charges in addition to that?
Is that right?
(Mr Gieve) No.
(Mr Webb) No.
145. How does that £180 million fit in?
(Mr Gieve) As I understand it the £1.47 billion
is the net present cost of the stream of forecast payments over
the lifetime of the project.
146. So £180 million is the net present
value of 19 x £180 million.
(Mr Gieve) Not quite, because we are not paying anything
like £180 million this year. I think £180 million is
the steady state when everyone is up and running with the full
functionality. It is a more complicated sum.
147. In addition to that there is £130
million in purchasing the hand radio sets for police officers.
Is that right?
(Mr Gieve) No.
(Mr Webb) It is all included in the £1.47 billion.
148. I thought in answer to Mr Jenkins you said
that the cost of buying the £1,000 hand-held radio sets was
in addition to these.
(Mr Webb) Was down to the Police Service but in fact
we have made an estimate within that as to how much that is likely
149. That is included in the figure. Is there
any other capital equipment which has to be purchased?
(Mr Webb) There is some capital equipment in terms
of control room configuration.
150. That is also all included.
(Mr Webb) That is all included. It is either the core
charge or the two menu charges.
151. It is very helpful to have that clarified.
What problems have there been with the police communicating with
other emergency services?
(Mr Webb) In the past there is a variation of levels
by which they actually communicate. In the past generally it has
been done at command level rather than individual officer level
and in fact that has generally worked reasonably well though there
have been examples where it has not worked terribly well. What
we are looking for here is providing an improved way of doing
that. It needs to be interoperable with whatever the Fire Service
152. The proposal therefore is that the individual
police officer is going to communicate with the individual fire,
ambulance and other emergency services.
(Mr Webb) That is not something which the Fire Service
said they want. The police officers can communicate with any other
police officer at an incident, even if they come from a different
force. That is not so at this moment with the Fire Service.
153. When I asked you what problems there had
been, you said the command structure seemed to work okay but this
will enable police officers to communicate with each other. Now
you are saying that is not wanted by the other services.
(Mr Webb) It is not wanted by the Fire Service but
it is desired in some cases by the Police Service, particularly
for incidents at airports.
154. Who will pick up this call when a policeman
makes a call to the Fire Service and they do not want to receive
(Mr Webb) It will go to their command centre.
155. In the same way as under the existing structure.
(Mr Webb) No, at the moment this can only be done
command centre to command centre. Police officers have to get
to their command, it will then pass across the Fire Service command
and then it will pass down the chain.
156. So the advantage of this system is that
the PC no longer goes via his own command centre.
(Mr Webb) Yes, that could be the case; it could be
the case if that were how they wanted to do it.
157. Is that extra facility worth £1.47
(Mr Webb) We are not necessarily looking at that cost.
The bulk of the £1.47 billion we have identified here is
for interoperability between police forces. At this moment we
have a number of different police forces operating across the
country. There is a large amount of interoperability across borders
of counties and there are areas where we have police forces like
British Transport Police and a number of other police forces which
operate across a number of police forces.
158. When has the lack of being able to do that
caused a problem? What kind of problems does that give rise to
(Mr Webb) The sort of thing they are currently experiencing,
particularly at airports and activities like this where you have
a mixture of police forces, is their ability to be able to talk
effectively to each other in an incident.
(Mr Gieve) Brian Jenkins mentioned a case where his
police force had to use public phones to communicate with the
nextdoor police force.
159. Does that happen at the moment?
(Mr Gieve) Yes.
8 Ref footnote to Q 75. Back