Unison criticises G4S police outsourcing plan

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Police authority plans to outsource back office jobs in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire would put profit ahead of the public, union bosses claim.

Unison has criticised proposals for private companies such as G4S to provide police support staff.

It said support staff and officers need to work together as a public service.

Hertfordshire Police Authority (HPA) said "big savings" had to be made to protect frontline resources.

In June, the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire forces were given the go-ahead to investigate outsourcing "backroom" services including IT, finance, human resources and legal services.

'Team ethos'

Plans were put forward to use private security firm G4S, which currently provides support services for Lincolnshire Police.

The proposal could affect 1,100 staff and save each force £20m a year by 2015.

After a meeting in Stevenage on Wednesday Unison's regional representative, Lorraine Kalaher, said back office staff supported frontline officers with a "team ethos" and without either party the work "could not be undertaken as successfully as it is".

"We believe that all of the parties need to be working together as a public service to be able to provide the service that the public want," she said.

"We know that there need to be savings and we have been working with [the police authorities] on that, but we don't think farming services out to a private company is the right way to go."

HPA chairman Stuart Nagler said that to protect the front line in the face of government cuts it had to generate "big savings".

"We are looking in the 'back office' areas to see whether we can find another way of delivering those services which will give us those savings, and outsourcing is one of those options," he said.

However, the plans are not certain to go ahead, since police authorities will be replaced by a single Police and Crime Commissioner in an election on 15 November.

"It will be a decision for that commissioner to take as to whether they wish to proceed either with G4S or not to deal with outsourcing at all and to look at other options," said Mr Nagler.

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