Just over a year ago, Keith Luck, the director of resources at the
Metropolitan Police, could have been forgiven for thinking that he was on track
to hit his budget targets for the 2005/2006 financial year.
Luck had accounted for the costs of policing the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park
and the G8 summit, made allowances for the general elections and factored in the
impact of the new licensing laws that would allow 24-hour drinking.
It was going to be a push, but he had done his sums and had found the
finances to support all these activities and still have a little bit left over
once everything had been accounted for.
Then the unexpected, but perhaps much anticipated happened – the 7 July
bombings – the series of attacks that struck the London transport network, in
which 52 people died and several hundred were injured.
Within hours of the explosions New Scotland Yard launched Operation Theseus
to respond to the attacks and Luck’s carefully prepared budget forecasts went
out of the window. That’s just one example of how different financial management
can be in government compared to the private sector.
By the end of August, an extra £59.3m had been pulled from the Met budget to
fund the operation. At the end of the financial year the drain on Luck’s purse
had climbed to £88.1m.
Yet somehow, by the end of the financial period, the Met’s FD had tightened
the purse strings elsewhere to cope with the extra strain on resources from
Operation Theseus and even delivered a budget surplus of £7.5m.
Luck’s work was commended by the Met in its annual report, where it was
mentioned that his department had delivered ‘excellent operational support in
response to the terrorist attacks in July and received widespread recognition
for the service provided’.
Looking back on the events of summer 2005, Luck, a CIMA accountant, says it
was a ‘minor miracle’ that the resources directorate had managed to find the
money needed to support Operation Theseus, continue running day-to-day police
activities and still come in under budget.
But executing the seemingly impossible is part of the job for Luck. His job
description is a clear indication of this. As the director of resources at the
Met, Luck is responsible for finance, procurement, property services, catering,
vehicles, warehousing and medical care for staff.
Luck doesn’t say whether he knew what he was letting himself in for when he
took on this myriad of responsibilities six years ago. What he does reveal is
great enthusiasm for a job that allows him to make an important contribution to
London’s communities and people.
‘The end product of policing is that it makes a difference to people’s lives
by making their neighbourhoods safer and better places to live in,’ says Luck.
Clearly, the contribution to society is important, but Luck isn’t exclusively
motivated by the warm, fuzzy ideas of community ‘upliftment’ and making the
world a better place. He is equally driven by the traditional motivators of
finance – hitting targets, improving efficiency and cutting costs – just like
his private sector counterparts.
When Luck joined the Met his mandate was to ‘commercialise’ the service, by
improving efficiency, reducing costs and leveraging the organisation’s buying
It is easy to see why there was this need for commercial acumen to focus on
these areas. New Scotland Yard has an annual turnover of £3bn and by March next
year it will employ 51,000 people. It is an organisation that is growing rapidly
and needs the expertise to manage this growth ‘I came into the Met with a
commercial background. It was that edge that the service was looking for,’ says
‘Since then, we have brought a commercial culture to the way things are done.
This has seen major improvements to procurement and helped to achieve value for
Tightening the purse strings
By making the Met more efficient and running its finances more strategically,
cash can be used for putting more police on the streets and improving that
service instead of spending it on back office functions like invoicing and
‘We want to run this like a good quality business. By achieving our financial
targets we can put money back on the frontline. We need to find the money rather
than asking the taxpayer to find it,’ Luck says.
Yet Luck is not only focused on simply cutting costs. One of his major
initiatives over the past year has been to leverage the earning potential of the
He says that although this might seem a strange area for a public sector
organisation to hone in on, it is one that holds potential for the Met as it
aims to improve the level of funding for the services it provides.
Last year, the Met launched a branding programme and a range of merchandise
to capitalise on the value that is tied into the Met brand. ‘The Metropolitan
Police and New Scotland Yard are very powerful brands that are understood
internationally and we have gone about trying to recognise that value by
licensing the brands and IP,’ Luck says.
The branding exercise has been accompanied by moves to host conferences at
New Scotland Yard. Luck has also looked at when the Met should be able to ask
for extra payment when providing additional services at special events like the
Chelsea Flower Show, football matches and security at airports.
‘This is not our core business, but when we provide extra services at
airports or events, we are taking staff away from standard policing to work in
these areas,’ Luck says.
The right move
The Met’s rapidly expanding workforce has meant that Keith Luck has been very
busy lately looking for new property to accommodate the Met’s growing staff and
the requirements of new technologies.
Recently, the FD took a huge step to address these logistical needs when more
than 4,000 Met staff moved from buildings across the capital into a new home in
The move was done in record time and saw the Met win an award for the way it
managed the process. Luck says the move into West London showed that the
often-maligned public sector was as capable as the private sector of completing
ambitious projects efficiently.
‘We can certainly make decisions fast. When the Met swings into action it can
turn on a sixpence,’ says Luck. ‘This is part of the richness of the public
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