One of Britain’s most senior police officers has repeatedly rebuffed attempts by former service colleagues to use their contacts to push for contracts on behalf of their new private sector employers.
Lynne Owens, the Chief Constable of Surrey Police, said that she had been “bombarded” with requests for meetings from people who used to work in policing to tap into the £2.3bn market in private police services.
Industry watchers say the approaches signal a new drive by security companies for deals with police forces after the political furore died down over the failure of the world’s biggest security company G4S to supply enough security staff for the 2012 Olympics. Under pressure from 20 per cent budget cuts, some police forces have done deals with outside companies for technology, human resources and detention services.
Ms Owens said that she had not received any “improper” approaches.
The senior officer took to Twitter earlier this week after receiving three requests in a week. “Still bombarded with requests from people who used to work in policing and want access from consultancies, private companies etc. Err ethics?” she wrote.
She says she has received letters, phone calls and been approached at social events by former officers trying to push their case. “We (chief constables) are much more cautious with all the public attention on the police service in terms of ethics and integrity,” she said. “There are real concerns about being seen to give advantage.
“I don’t have problems with people approaching me but it does mean that we have to think about ethical concerns and how it could be seen.”
She said she received a couple of approaches every month from former officers of all ranks recruited by the private sector in the hope that they can influence senior police opinion formers.
Surrey was at the centre of Britain’s planned largest private sector deal in collaboration with the West Midlands force for a £1.5bn contract.
The deal stalled and eventually crumbled following the Olympics debacle and a number of prominent new police and crime commissioners campaigned against the idea.
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Commissioner of Scotland Yard and the country’s biggest force, said that he had received only a couple of approaches from former officers representing private sector interests. “The way I deal with it is not to meet,” he said.