The news that the Metropolitan Police has spent more than £200,000 calling directory enquiries and £35,000 on 110,000 calls to the Speaking Clock in the last two years has prompted a wave of criticism. The figures, recently released to the Press Association under the Freedom of Information Act show the force spent £16,879 calling the Speaking Clock in 2010-11, down from £18,402 the previous year. Officers and staff also made nearly 55,000 calls to find out the time last year, down from nearly 60,000 calls in 2009-10.
Ben Mendoza, CEO of MDSL, the telecommunications expense management specialist said: “This is neither a surprise to me nor a condemnation of the Metropolitan Police – it is what we always find when we are asked to investigate the telecoms expenses of any major organisation. The Metropolitan Police does a difficult job well and, like every other organisation at the moment, is expected to do more with less and less. The only way to keep on top of this type of expenditure is to automate it with a Telecom Expense Management solution which analyses your expenditure, identifies problem areas and allows you to save money – in most cases, up to 11% of the total cost of telecoms costs”.
The force also spent £95,313 on directory enquiries in 2010-11, down from £121,501 the previous year. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “We are committed to reducing such costs wherever possible. It must be remembered, however, that a huge number of our officers and staff will not have direct access to the internet as they are not office-based. There are clearly evidential and operational reasons for officers and staff requiring the exact time and contact details”.
Ben Mendoza continued: “When you take into account mobile roaming and data cost savings, these can run into tens of thousands of pounds. It is not just the case, which some have suggested and the Met is replying to, that The Met could solve the problem by switching blindly to using internet access for this information. That could actually make the overspend worse. They have to intelligently identify their telecoms and data needs – fixed line and mobile – then match these with suitable solutions.
“With the squeeze on public expenditure getting tighter, all public bodies can get smart about many areas of expenditure and, while cutting back, can ensure that their core services, in this case operational Policing, are protected as far as possible”.