Police invite security firms to bid for roles

Police on patrol The plan talks about private firms being involved in patrolling neighbourhoods

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Private security firms could investigate some crimes and patrol neighbourhoods under plans being drawn up for police in England and Wales.

The West Midlands and Surrey forces have invited bids for contracts from private firms, on behalf of all forces.

Staff would support officers carry out duties but would not make arrests.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said she was "very worried" at the pressure police are under to "cross the line" because of government cuts.

"The police have today confirmed that they are pursuing these contracts as a result of the financial pressures they face," she said.

"Yet the possibility of including the management of high-risk individuals, patrolling public places or pursuing criminal investigations in large private sector contracts rather than core professional policing raises very serious concerns."

Chairman of the Commons' Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz said he was worried about some of the potential implications.

"Britain's policing is founded on accountability to the public,'" he said.

"Plans to privatise its frontline, particularly on the eve of the election of police and crime commissioners, is a cause for concern."

The Police Federation has also expressed fears about the proposal.

"This is an extremely dangerous road to take," said vice-chairman Simon Reed.

"The priority of private companies within policing will be profit and not people, and we must not forget, they are answerable to their shareholders and not to to the public we serve.

Michael Gradwell, former detective superintendent: "It leaves the thin blue line a lot thinner"

"This is not a solution. Chief officers must no longer bury their heads in the sand; they should instead stand up for what is right for the public and protect the police service from any further dismantling by this government."

BBC political correspondent Louise Stewart said the West Midlands and Surrey forces had been working together since early last year.

This is the first time the extent of their plans to involve the private sector in "middle and back office functions" have become clear.

They emerge at a time of 20% cuts to police budgets over four years, with Home Secretary Theresa May suggesting forces could protect "front-line policing" by delegating some work to the private sector.

Police station

Our correspondent says the two forces have invited bids from firms including G4S, the world's largest security firm, to deliver a number of services currently undertaken by the police.

They include responding to and investigating incidents, supporting victims and witnesses, managing high-risk individuals and patrolling neighbourhoods.

G4S already have a £200m contract with Lincolnshire Police under which half the force's civilian staff will join the private company, which will also build and run a police station.

In a statement, the Home Office said of the plans: "Private companies will not be able to arrest suspects, and they will not be solely responsible for investigating crime."

The contract has a potential value of £1.5bn over seven years but could rise to £3.5bn, depending on how many other forces signed up, our correspondent adds.

That would make it the largest contract to date for a private company to provide police services.

Chief Superintendent Phil Kay of West Midlands Police said the most important duties would still be carried out by sworn officers.

"Some elements of patrolling it may be appropriate, but the majority of patrolling, the majority of responding to calls for service, particularly 999 calls, will continue to be done by police officers,'" he said.

The Guardian reported it had seen a briefing note sent to companies on the West Midlands-Surrey plans, which said that all services that "can be legally delegated to the private sector" were potentially up for contract.

'Dangerous experiment'

A West Midlands police authority spokesman told the newspaper the aim was to transform the way the force worked.

"The areas of service listed in this notice are deliberately broad to allow the force to explore the skills, expertise and solutions a partnership could bring," he said.

But Ben Priestley, Unison's national officer for police and justice, told the Guardian: "Bringing the private sector into policing is a dangerous experiment with local safety and taxpayers' money.

"We are urging police authorities not to fall into the trap of thinking the private sector is the answer to the coalition's cuts."

He added: "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."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 391.

    YES! I have trouble locking up shop at nights due to hoody's and some really unpleasant threats -- and it's not a bad neighbourhood, and it's only 8pm. The police have been very helpful but they can't be everywhere and the "pc" lobby has sure made it difficult for people to get stuck in personally, so we need more hi-tech solutions (audio and video recordings etc). It's a GOOD idea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 390.

    Don't blame the tories thay can not do this without Clegg, Cable, Hughes and the rest of the Lib-dem party

  • rate this

    Comment number 389.

    what a dreadful idea!. the Police are unaccountable enough as it is. this plan is a receipe for disaster

  • rate this

    Comment number 388.

    I can see it now.

    If you want to know the time, ask a policeman.

    Mastercard, Switch, Delta, American Express and PayPal accepted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 387.

    Give it two years. The UK companies will be flogged off to foreign owned ones. The police forces will have to raise the amount they pay and cut services to do it. The profits will shoot up for the contractors. The service will collapse, the pay for the chief execs will rocket, and half the people who negotiated the deal from the public side will be employed by the private companies they hired.

  • rate this

    Comment number 386.

    I'm suprised so many have a poor understanding of the police role and this proposal. It's NOT about police OFFICERS at all, it's about police staff which includes CSI's, PCSO's, etc. who investigate and solve many crimes just like police officers. Also, many of you just don't understand that criminals and edgy, violent people are everywhere and many people like challenging authority & process.

  • rate this

    Comment number 385.

    1984 herewe come!

    And don't forget, it's Clegg that we have to thank for Cameron.
    The LibDems held the balance of power....and chose to cosy-up with the Tories, thus giving us a government that the majority HADN'T voted for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 384.

    And so the US inspired privatisation panto continues.
    No doubt when things don't work out May will blame the police rather than the private sector companies....or god forbid accept some responsibility herself for the first time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 383.

    Complete insanity and yet another indicator that Cameron with his puppet Clegg is determined to finish Thatcher's work.

    Re the comments on Police being inefficient, overpaid etc you really do need to get a grip. We have friends who are in the Police and there is no way on Earth I could do their jobs. Do you think G4 would put their lives on the line to stop Raul Moat ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 382.


    Or I could go with the crowd and make wild and unsubstantiated claims in that oh so smug lefty Tory hating way....

    Robocop, david icke, Orwell.... Edl, thugs, privatization...

    Maybe lol but I would rather wait and see....

  • rate this

    Comment number 381.

    Private Police Force!!. Another system for the Cons to buy shares in and make money.If the police have the money to spare for a private force then why not invest it in more officers.A private force will be interested in one thing only and that is how to make the most of the money coming in for it's share holders.You only have to witness how bad the railways are now because of it's share holders.

  • rate this

    Comment number 380.

    This must not be allowed to happen.

    Extreme disobedience ad non compliance must be shown to any private police force (paramilitary)

    We are well on our way out of democracy and into totalitarian rule!

    Wake up!

  • rate this

    Comment number 379.

    The Police already have civilians working in backroom roles, they also have PCSO's to patrol neighbourhoods, I cannot understand why they would not just employ more of these if the govt feel it necessary.
    A private firm would create massive dissent between the private firms & the Police Officers on the street who would simply not want to work together.
    The start of the end for the british bobby.

  • rate this

    Comment number 378.

    When did privatisation save money while at the same time maintaining the quality of service? If this becomes reality I hope non of the recruits are sensitive about their religion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 377.

    Can you imagine which type of neighbourhoods would get patrolled and 'policed' under this private scheme? . . .

    It would be those who have the most money & will get the best patrols. Those with no money, i.e. the most vulnerable in society, will get nothing.

    It wont be any use looking to the police for a back up, as they've already handed over responsibility to the profit making elite!

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    This is the path of totalitarian 'tip toe'. Sounds a great idea, doesn't it? Will help the government save lots of money, which must be beneficial to the public; and of course, all firms and personnel will be properly vetted.
    America have their para-military private force, answerable to the government only, and are immune from prosecution.
    Accept this idea at your peril!

  • rate this

    Comment number 375.

    We have policing by consent in this country. Where is the consent to this? If the Police Authority are supporting this I will be voting for a Commissioner that will be against it. And to think I am/was against commissioners.

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    What's the problem with privatising the police? It's just an extension of the 'buy a cop scheme' which we are now learning Tory journos (appear) to have been using for years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    Will the private company be creating Robocop and ED-209? it really does sound like we could have a company like OCP running the police force now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    Private security watching over us...and if crime does go down, to such a level that we no longer need them.

    Ever heard of organised crime?


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