Police press on with plans to give G4S essential role despite Olympic shambles

Up to 1,000 back-office jobs in three counties could still be outsourced to giant security firm
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Three UK police forces are pushing ahead with plans to outsource back-office jobs to the private security firm G4S, despite the company's shambolic handling of the Olympic Games.

Concerned police chiefs in Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire decided four weeks ago to review their plans to outsource more than 1,000 police jobs to G4S, in the wake of the company's Olympics security fiasco, when it failed to provide enough staff.

G4S had been contracted to provide 10,400 guards for Olympic events, at a cost of £284m, but it failed to deliver enough personnel, leaving the armed forces to step in and make up the shortfall. G4S described its failures as a "humiliating shambles", and the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it had made him "think again" about the use of private contractors.

But after a meeting on Wednesday between high-ranking officers from the three counties, the forces said they would push ahead with the proposals, at a total cost of £77m.

"The work to develop the full business case will continue to scrutinise the Lincolnshire Police/G4S contract and assess the ability of the contract to meet the specific requirements of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire," the police authorities said in a statement.

"The full business case will therefore be completed over the next few months, ready for consideration and a decision by the chief constables in conjunction with the incoming police and crime commissioners."

The announcement drew condemnation from Unison, which represents support workers at Cambridgeshire Police.

"It will be deeply worrying for the people in those areas that their police authorities and chief constables are persisting with developing unpopular plans for privatisation," said Ben Priestley, Unison's national officer for police staff.

"A ComRes opinion poll for Unison in June this year showed that 62 per cent of the public were opposed to privatising the police service. These results show that people want their police service to be crime fighters not profit makers."

A spokesman for G4S Policing Support Services said: "The Olympics contract has been delivered by a completely separate part of the G4S group, which has no links to our policing business. G4S Policing Support Services is run by different management, has a large workforce and has consistently provided excellent service to its clients."