West Midlands Police has spent more than £1 million on consultants in the last 12 months.
And the spending is continuing apace: Officials have just handed £106,000 to advisers for controversial plans which will see three landmark police stations sold off.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones has also just given the green light to fork out £45,000 on technology consultants.
The spending comes as the force struggles with huge budget cuts which have seen more than 250 police officers and over 450 civilian support jobs lost in the last two years.
It emerged last month that the force is selling off Birmingham’s Steelhouse Lane station in the city centre and its Grade Two listed custody block to save cash.
The landmark station will be closed along with Queens Road, in Aston, and Belgrave Middleway in Edgbaston.
Officers from the axed stations could be moved into local shopping centres or even supermarkets instead.
The huge sums being spent on consultants includes £500,000 on the disastrous Business Partnering for Police (BPP) programme – a scheme to allow private companies to provide police services.
This was immediately abandoned by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner as soon as he was elected – meaning the money had been wasted.
Last year that the force also forked out a further £500,000 in 2012 on consultant fees to study “the culture of the force” and the “experience of the customer”.
The expenditure of more than £100,000 on the sale of police stations has sparked particular anger, with Edgbaston’s Tory councillor, Deidre Alden, describing it as ‘outrageous’.
Birminghampost.net can also reveal that the force is handing over an additional £45,000 on a different set of consultants for advice on a replacement for the binned BPP programme,
Commissioner Bob Jones has just agreed to pay for more consultants – costing the taxpayer £2,250 per day.
They will be brought in to offer just 20 days of advice, even though £500,000 was wasted on advisers for the disastrous BPP scheme.
Councillor Deidre Alden said: “I think it’s outrageous and feeble that and the force repeatedly turns to expensive consultants in times of such austerity.
“I would expect that Bob Jones, who is on such a high salary, should be able to make these decisions himself.
“If he can’t do it himself then he could use his team of well-paid deputies.
“I was absolutely disgusted to hear about the station closure in Edgbaston and only found out from a media report.
“Local councillors have funded a police van, a car, bikes and other equipment for the local police teams in recent years and nobody had the decency to tell us about the decision.
“We do not have a major shopping centre in Edgbaston, so I do not know where they will base our officers.
“The priority for the people of Edgbaston and other areas of Birmingham is keeping police stations open.
“I quite understand that we are living in very difficult times and I’m sure we will be told that this is all about saving money in the long term, but I would like to see the proof of that.
“The community wants to keep its police stations. And an area like Edgbaston, which has a university, a major hospital, and a cricket ground to name a few, surely needs and deserves one.”
A spokesman for the Police and Crime Commissioner said: “The total value of the contract for services with Tony Smith Consultants was £106,000.
“The work supported the major review of the police estate, and supplied specialist technical advice and expertise not available from within the organisation.
“The outcome of the first stage of the review was recently announced, including the withdrawal from expensive city centre leases and the closure of Steelhouse Lane police station, which will save £2.6 million per year.
“Progress against the contract was reported to the Police Authority’s Finance and Resources Committee.”
At the announcement of the police station closures, Commissioner Jones said the cost savings of the building closures would the equivalent of 70 police officer posts.
Speaking about the replacement to Business Partnering Commissioner Jones told a press conference just hours after winning the election that “new options” would be considered which included bringing in private contractors to provide technology for the force.
He went on to launch a Technology Task Force, from staff he already has within the force, but has conceded that they do not have the skills.
In a memo explaining the decision to spend £45,000 on technology consultants the Labour PCC said: “The Commissioner recognises that the technology task force does not have the requisite solution, design, procurement, legal experience and expertise needed to design and procure an innovation and integration partner.
“To do so the Chief Constable recommends the procurement of business consultants to provide advice and support over a four-week period on a scoping study.
“The expected cost of the four-week piece of work is £45,000.”
Ian Edwards, Chairman of the West Midlands branch of the Police Federation, said: “I think both the Commissioner and the force should think very carefully about spending any more money on consultants bearing in mind the amount of money that was wasted on the BPP programme.”
Mr Edwards, who represents local rank and file officers, added: “Any further spend on consultants who carry out any work for the force will need to be justifiable and wholly transparent.”
A spokeswoman said more details on the project are available at www.westmidlands-pcc.gov.uk.