The Serco Institute


The Serco Institute

Making Time - Freeing Up Front-Line Policing
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Alexis Sotiropoulos
ISBN: None
The Serco Institute
Price: None
Publication Date: 2008

The Institute is Serco’s research facility. Our aim is to foster the development of sustainable public service markets through an outward-facing programme of research and communication.

Using an evidence-based approach, we study competition and contracting in public services and share the findings through Our Publications. These are intended to enhance understanding, in governments and the wider community, of the role that competition and contracting can play in improving public services, and of the conditions and practices that deliver the best outcomes.

As part of a continuing dialogue with industry professionals, government officials, academics and researchers we also maintain our Resource Centre, an online library created as a first point of reference for stakeholders in this area.

Publisher's Title Information


The Northcote-Trevelyan Report (1854) is widely recognised as having laid the foundations of the modern British Civil Service, and it had a profound influence on the structure of the public services in other countries that adopted the Westminster system of government. Today the report is best remembered for its advocacy of competitive examinations and merit appointment, but Sir Charles Trevelyan, then head of Her Majesty’s Treasury, was interested with the efficiency of government more broadly.

Among the principles laid down in the report, Trevelyan argued for ‘economy of labour’ in public service – government should employ supplementary clerks to undertake the mechanical tasks of public administration, freeing up superior officers to pursue those higher order activities for which they had been recruited. It was false economy to have highly-trained officials performing basic administrative tasks, rather than using them (and paying them) to undertake the professional duties for which they were retained: ‘economy is dearly purchased by the sacrifice of efficiency’.

A century and a half later, we are still struggling to make sense of ‘economy of labour’ in the management of public services. Nowhere has this challenge been greater than in policing, where the procedural demands of the criminal justice system place immense administrative burdens on front-line officers.

This report investigates a range of initiatives that have been explored by British policing agencies over the past decade, in their attempt to free up front-line policing. Making time is just as important in the pursuit of value-for-money as saving money, and yet it has been largely overlooked in the public debate. In ‘Making Time’, the Institute looks at policing reform with a particular focus on the pursuit of greater economy of labour on the part of front-line public servants.

Gary L Sturgess
Executive Director