For some time now, there has been a persistent emphasis on the need for police forces to “collaborate” in order to maximise opportunities for cost savings and to ensure resilient and effective service provision. While collaboration certainly has an important part to play in the future of the service, in some circles it is viewed as the automatic solution, regardless of the precise nature of the problem, says Graham Smith. Worse still, it is sometimes thought of as an approach that is easy to deliver and guaranteed to succeed.

The Audit Commission, in Governing Partnerships: Bridging the Accountability Gap, recognised that working across boundaries creates complexity and ambiguity that causes confusion and weakens accountability. Grant Thornton, in its review of NHS governance, highlighted the importance of leadership and the need for enhanced governance if the benefits of partnership working are to be realised, while the NHS Confederation stated that working across organisations is only successful if it takes into account local history, culture and immediate imperatives.

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