Sunday, 11 March 2012

Privatising The Police: A Step Too Far

A Guest Post From Cllr Tony Page, Deputy Leader of Reading Borough Council

The Government has recently allowed two police authorities to privatise some police functions.

The invitation to tender includes investigating crimes, detaining suspects, responding to and investigating incidents, supporting victims and witnesses, managing high-risk individuals, patrolling neighbourhoods, as well as traditional ‘back office’ functions such as forensics, legal services, finance and human resources.

Only the actual power of arrest is excluded.

This is ‘virtual policing’ in which a huge range of very sensitive services are to be contracted out and, bear in mind, there is no private company out there with experience across even a fraction of this work.

We could see 999 calls being dealt with by call centres half-way round the world, drivers doing blue light jobs in their own cars, the people who have been clamping cars on private land given powers to dish out Penalty Charge Notices on our streets, PCSOs being replaced by private security guards, and a huge lack of accountability as the contractor would be bound only by his contract.

These two police authorities are going out to tender in advance of the election of police commissioners this November. I think any commissioner who is elected should ditch the process, and the chief constable who dreamed it up into the bargain.

This is a privatisation too far.

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