London

Met Police considers privatisation of £500m services

Scotland Yard could privatise services worth up to £500m per year as the force battles to maintain officer numbers in the face of 20% budget cuts.

Services such as finance, human resources and healthcare in custody would be contracted out from 2014, coming into force in 2015.

The Metropolitan Police said it planned to begin "market testing next year".

Existing contracts for IT, facilities management and transport services could also be re-tendered, the force said.

Businesses and internal police teams would compete for contracts.

Cuddly toys

London deputy mayor for policing and crime Stephen Greenhalgh said: "Competitive tendering of support services is part of our plans to drive down costs so we can keep police numbers high and ensure front-line officers have the best possible support.

"Core policing roles are not being outsourced but we are asking the private sector to show the Met where they could come in and provide better police support services at a lower cost."

The Met also plans open an online store selling a range of branded merchandise.

Interested firms will be invited to submit bids to run the shop, which Scotland Yard hopes will attract members of the public and police staff with products including cuddly toys, mugs and notebooks.

The force hopes to improve the £225,000-a-year it currently generates in merchandise sales.

The force is already selling 200 buildings including New Scotland Yard as it makes cuts to its £3.6bn annual budget.

Scotland Yard's deputy commissioner Craig Mackey said that a forensic services contact had already been tendered and given to the in-house police team, because it provided better value.

"We've already promised to maintain officer numbers and we know people want to see more of us on the street," he said.

"The more money we can save and more efficient we can get, the more officers we can devote to front-line policing.

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