Chief Constables’ Council
Title: National PPE Procurement Proposal
15 July 2020 Agenda Item: Regional
NPCC Policy: Documents cannot be accepted or ratified without a security classification (Protective Marking may assist in assessing whether exemptions to
FOIA may apply):
OFFICIAL / OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE / OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE-COMMERCIAL/ OFFIICIAL-SENSITIVE-PERSONAL / OFFICAL-SENSITIVE-OPERATIONAL
Freedom of information (FOI)
This document (including attachments and appendices) may be subject to an FOI request and the NPCC FOI Officer & Decision Maker will consult with you
on receipt of a request prior to any disclosure. For external Public Authorities in receipt of an FOI, please consult with email@example.com
Op Talla – Covid-19
Attachments @ para
Information Governance & Security
In compliance with the Government’s Security Policy Framework’s (SPF) mandatory requirements, please ensure any onsite printing is supervised, and
storage and security of papers are in compliance with the SPF. Dissemination or further distribution of this paper is strictly on a need to know basis and in
compliance with other security controls and legislative obligations. If you require any advice, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
1.1. This paper provides an update on the approach to date for the purchase and distribution of Personal
Protective Equipment (PPE) during the pandemic, summarises the current position, and sets out the
options for the medium and longer-term commercial approach.
2.1. In the very early stage of the emergency all Forces attempted to buy PPE in the face of a severe shortage
across the UK, and without any guidance on its use. Some forces struggled to obtain supplies and many
of the regions competed against each for the same stock and thus paid very high prices, compared to
2.2. NPoCC quickly established a PPE Working Group and drew on commercial expertise from across Policing,
and logistics support from the Military. This team set the guidance for specification and use of PPE
working with Public Health England and then spot purchased PPE from several suppliers to satisfy the
immediate national requirement. The team also established a central storage and distribution hub that
ensured these PPE was available for delivery to regional hubs to fill critical shortages being reported
by forces. As a direct result Policing has been supplied with all necessary PPE and has not faced the
shortages experienced by health, social care and other sectors. Surveys undertaken by the College of
Policing and the Police Federation have shown high levels of satisfaction and confidence amongst
officers and staff regarding the availability and quality of PPE provided.
2.3. In total policing have spent approximately £47m on PPE, with £31.5m of that being through the
national PPE orders.
2.4. The lead times and availability of most PPE items continues to improve, with prices generally
2.5. The current products being purchased and supplied, range from alcohol hand sanitiser to medical
2.6. As a result of this approach, there is a high level of confidence that based on the latest usage profiling,
we have between 3 to 6 months stocks of PPE, depending on the individual PPE item, when combining
the national and regional distribution centres stocks.
2.7. Funding for these national purchases has been a major issue for the PPE Working Group and they
have had to rely on individual forces placing orders on behalf of national stocks on the understanding
that the cost would be recovered from the Home Office in due course. Five forces stepped up and
placed orders for £20million in the first two weeks and another ten forces / regions have
subsequently agreed to place further orders, however this burden has not been shared equally with
some PCC’s being unwilling to support the national effort despite verbal assurances that the costs
will be refunded.
2.8. An initial order for 600,000 face coverings has now also been placed through the national team and
distributed to Forces.
2.9. A behavioural study is likely to be commissioned, either through SAGE or Cardiff University, to provide
a better understanding of the wearing of PPE and face coverings. This study will provide further
insight to support future demand profiling.
Option 1 – Oversight, management and procurement of PPE becomes a regional / local responsibility,
as the national stock holding is used and once there is adequate global production with the current
commercial and logistics arrangements continuing until then. This would be simple to implement,
but would be inefficient and would not achieve best value, as each region or local Force would need
to procure their own individual requirements, which would likely result in increased price paid
(through dis-aggregation of demand) plus inefficiencies through duplicated procurement activity and
supplier management. This option is not recommended.
Option 2 - The oversight of PPE remains a national responsibility and is delivered through nationally
placed and managed contract(s), but with forces managing their requirements, calling off and paying
for items as required to meet local demands. This option ensures that quality, pricing and supplier(s)
performance are managed to meet forces requirements. A suite of management information would
be provided to enable national visibility of supply availability. The supplier(s) could hold a strategic
stock and / or the contract could include the management of stocks held by forces regionally should
there be such a requirement. This contract(s) would have to be competed and will be established
when the market has matured, and when UK manufacturing capacity has been established. It is
anticipated that all the contracts will be awarded by the end of 2020. Existing contractual
arrangements and nationally aggregated spot purchasing could be utilised in the short term, if
demand usage increases significantly from the usage profile observed over the past four months. This is the current recommended option.
3.3. Option 3 - The supply of PPE remains a national responsibility and the current arrangements with a
small procurement team buying to meet demand and centralised storage are made permanent. This
could be the responsibility of BlueLight Commercial, FCN, or a lead force. It would be relatively
simple to implement but there would be funding / finance issues that would have to be resolved,
National Police Chiefs’ Council
with a national stock holding (it is estimated that the national stock holding value would be in the
region of £10m). It is felt this would only be a viable option if Chiefs believe there is a need to
establish a long-term national stock holding of PPE and potentially other items such as CBRN, Public
Order and similar equipment to meet emergencies. This option is not considered further though it
can be developed if Chiefs feel it is viable.
3.4. It is recommended that PPE is strategically led under one of the following existing NPCC portfolios:
Wellbeing, Uniform or Forensics. Chiefs are asked to support this proposal.
4.1. This paper recommends Option 2, the delivery of PPE through a national contract(s), under a specific
NPCC strategic lead.
4.2. It is proposed that NPCC working with BlueLight Commercial develop the service specification and
future demand requirements. BlueLight Commercial will analyse the supply chain and determine the
most appropriate medium to long term commercial approach, and the timing for such an approach
being implemented, with the aim of all contracts being awarded by the end of 2020.
4.3. The existing arrangements whereby NPoCC coordinate the placing of orders centrally and distribution
of PPE to meet regional / local demands should continue until the new service is implemented, with
a view to reducing stock holding requirements at the national distribution centre over the next few
5.1. This proposed phased approach will ensure forces have sufficient stocks of PPE from known and
trusted suppliers that are certified to meet all regulatory standards in the short term.
5.2. By taking a phased approach, this will enable the situation to become clearer, especially in terms of
national policy, operational requirements, forecast demand and global production capacity and
enable the compliant procurement process for a longer-term solution. This would also enable the
feasibility of UK manufactured items to be considered, presenting the opportunity of reliable ‘just-in-
time’ supply agreements and supplier held contingency stocks, to provide further resilience, and
negate the requirement for the current large national distribution centre.
5.3. A national approach would provide a compliant, effective and the most cost-effective source of
approved PPE, whilst minimising the risk of shortages in meeting the requirements of our
6. RISKS and CONSIDERATIONS
6.1. There may be a requirement for further orders to be placed for replenishment of national stock in the
short term, on the expectation that these costs will be refunded by the Home Office. The Home
Secretary and Policing Minister have given verbal assurance this will happen, but this has not yet
been confirmed in writing by officials.
6.2. It will take time to establish the proposed national approach, and the existing resource intensive
requirements will need to continue, albeit scaled down through time, until the new service is fully
available and embedded.
6.3. Cross Government discussions, led by the DH&SC continue to progress, to determine the feasibility of
other sectors aggregating further, however this is not likely to be achievable or viable in the medium
National Police Chiefs’ Council
6.4. Some regions may prefer to procure and manage PPE under their own arrangements. Though this
would still be possible with the recommended option, it would reduce the ability to achieve best
value for all forces and provide effective oversight of quality and stockholdings. Chiefs are asked
whether the national aggregated approach should be entirely voluntary or whether all forces should
be strongly advised to use the arrangements to provide best value and national oversight.
7. PHASED PROGRAMME APPROACH
7.1. As we move from the initial emergency phase to the consolidation phase, BlueLight Commercial will
provide professional support and guidance, including undertaking market analysis to identify any
upcoming risks or issues in supply chains, to enable any actions to ensure continuity of supply are
7.2. During the consolidation phase, the national distribution centre will continue to service regional and
local Force stock replenishment requirements, through the continuation of the NPoCC and RICC co-
7.3. The national distribution centre, which has received the large bulk orders, is based at S31 Law
Enforcement, and has been resourced by Thames Valley Police. Work is currently ongoing to
determine the operating costs for the national distribution centre up until 31st March 2021, and
agreement needs to be reached on how these costs will be equally shared between Forces, with
the aim to negate the need for a national distribution centre as soon as possible.
7.4. BlueLight Commercial will lead and manage the medium and longer-term commercial activity,
ensuring continuity of supply and best value is achieved for Policing.
Regional Commercial Director
National Police Chiefs’ Council