Police defend private sector plan

 

The Chief Constables of two police forces today defended the "transformational" changes which could result following a meeting with private sector firms to discuss the possible contracting out of some work by the forces.

The chiefs of West Midlands and Surrey Police spoke after a conference in London for the private sector to find out more about the possibility of working with police forces.

Chris Sims, chief constable of West Midlands Police said: "The proposition is: let us bring a commercial partner who could bring expertise, bring experience, bring technology that will allow us to transform how we do things and allow us to bring a better service to the public.

"We are very, very aware that this is an emotive subject. Very aware that this can be presented in terms of language like outsourcing and privatisation - it isn't that.

"Be under no doubt that for Surrey and West Midlands Police, direction and control of police officers can only remain under the chief constable and, through the PCC, be accountable to the public."

Mr Sims was speaking after the meeting attended by 120 business delegates at London's Congress Centre, who heard the chief constables outline what they hoped to achieve from such partnerships.

The plans are opposed by trade unions, and members of two unions staged a protest outside the conference earlier in the day.

Earlier this month former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott launched a campaign to "keep the police public", warning that bringing in private security firms could lead to the privatisation of bobbies on the beat.

Mr Sims said that other forces would have the opportunity to take part, and said that many forces were represented at today's conference.

"We are in this to improve service, we are not simply looking for a way to do the same thing for less money," he added.

The chief constable of Surrey Police, Lynne Owens, said: "We are both really proud to be police officers, and because we have operated on the front line we both understand the responsibilities of a front line officer. There will be some roles that are never ever subject to this privatisation/joint venture requirement.

"All we have done today is have a meeting with a private group of people and said: 'This is how we are thinking. You tell us what it is you can do'.

"We don't know whether they are going to be up for it. At the moment this is not a game-changer. We are at a very early stage of a long process."

The officers added that up to half of "back-office" staff may be cut over the next four years as part of cost savings measures.

The tender process is expected to take until spring next year with contracts running for seven to 10 years and are expected to be worth up to £1.5 billion.

The Unite and Unison unions protested against the plans outside the Congress Centre earlier in the day.

Peter Allenson, a national official at Unite, said: "There is no business case for either the government or the police forces to go down this route.

"Clearly the government are looking to make savings, but this could be an enormous white elephant.

"We believe any savings will be made at the cost of proper local policing and our members' terms of employment."

Asked about the possibility of strike action he said: "Nothing is being ruled out and we will look at our traditional routes when considering the next steps. Of course, the ultimate decision would be down to our members.

"We will also look at going down the political route. A number of the constituencies in the West Midlands are marginals, so there will be a political campaign. We will also ask for assurances from candidates in the police commissioner elections."

Lord Prescott, who intends to stand for election as a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in Humberside, wants a public debate on how far the public are prepared to see private firms involved in policing.

He said this month that it was "extremely alarming" that the two forces were asking security firms to bid for contracts to run some services that are currently carried out by officers.

PA

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Research Executive - Quantitative/Qualitative

£27000 - £31000 Per Annum Excellent Benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

ETL Developer / Consultant

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

DT Teacher, Full time supply role, Maidstone school

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We urgently require an experienc...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week