Government plans to delegate police powers to private firms
Private firms may soon hold power to investigate crime, patrol neighbourhoods and detain subjects under the new contract provided by West Midlands and Surrey police.
The £1.5bn contract – the largest in police privatisation as of yet – is expected to be the necessary measure to provide efficient policing services whilst remaining within the funding they’ve been provided with – a 20% cut imposed by the home secretary Theresa May.
West Midlands Police placed a notice in the Official Journal of European Union (OJEU) in a bid to lure potential external organisations to work with the forces.
The list of policing activities includes: investigating crimes; detaining suspects; developing cases; responding to and investigating incidents; supporting victims and witnesses; managing high-risk individuals; patrolling neighbourhoods; managing intelligence; managing engagement with the public, as well as back office functions such as managing forensics; providing legal services; managing the vehicle fleet, finance and human resources.
Not all the activities listed in the OJEU notice will be included in the final scope as the list was deliberately broadened to allow easier exploration of the skills and the expertise involving the partnership.
Chief Supt Phil Kay, who is overseeing the project, said: “We want to explore how working with people in the private sector might be able to give us a new dimension and help us transform our service.”
“We also want to see what areas of business there are where we can work with partners in the private sector to deliver in a way that is more cost effective, efficient and helps to improve the services.”
Despite the introduction of the privatisation programmes in response to budget cuts, savings are not expected to be made until 2014, forcing the West Midlands police to withdraw 2,764 police jobs over the next three years.
Ben Priestley, from the Union’s National Office for Police and Justice, was antagonistic towards the move condemning it a “dangerous experiment with local safety and tax payers’ money.”
He said: “Privatisation means that the police will be less accountable to the public. And people will no longer be able to go to the Independent Police Complaints Commission if they have a problem. When a critical incident happens, a force’s ability to respond will be severely compromised. The only winners are private companies and shareholders who make profits at the expense of local services.”