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Using activity-based costing and simulation to reduce cost at a police communications centre

Andrew Greasley (Aston University, Birmingham, UK)
Chris M. Smith (University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 15 May 2017




This study is based at a police force’s communications centre which undertakes a vital role in receiving and processing emergency and non-emergency telephone calls from the public and other agencies. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate a method for addressing the conflict between the need to reduce cost and the requirement to meet national standards in terms of a timely response to customer calls.


In a two-stage methodology an activity-based costing (ABC) approach is used as a framework to show how costs are generated by the three “drivers” of cost which relate to the design efficiency of the process, the demand on the process and the cost of resources used to undertake the process. The study then provides an analysis from a resource driver perspective using discrete-event simulation to model workforce staffing scenarios.


Cost savings within the police communications centre are identified from an analysis of the three drivers of cost. Further analysis from a resource driver viewpoint using a simulation study of an alternative workforce schedule predicted an overall reduction in staffing cost of 9.4 per cent.


The study outlines an innovative method that identifies where cost can be reduced using ABC and then provides an assessment of strategies that aim to reduce cost whilst maintaining service levels in a police operation using simulation.



Greasley, A. and Smith, C.M. (2017), "Using activity-based costing and simulation to reduce cost at a police communications centre", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 40 No. 2, pp. 426-441.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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