Hertfordshire PCC election: Candidates clash over outsourcing

Candidates fighting to be the Hertfordshire police and crime commissioner (PCC) have clashed over plans to outsource some services to an outside company.

Hertfordshire Police, with Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire police forces, has been looking at the option of giving some office work to G4S.

The plans were reviewed following criticism faced by G4S after it failed to provide enough security guides for the Olympics.

G4S has said that its policing support division is "entirely separate" to its events business which managed the Olympics contract.

In August, the forces said they would look at developing a business case which would see G4S supply services including IT and human resources.

But this is likely to be looked at again after the PCC elections, as many candidates for commissioner in the counties have expressed concerns about the plan.


Image caption Sherma Batson, the Labour candidate, says cuts are being brought in too fast

Labour candidate Sherma Batson, a member of the police authority, said: "I believe the cuts are being brought in too fast. We need to keep as much policing on the streets as we possibly can. It's going to cause a serious problem in the longer-term."

She said Hertfordshire Police staff were "very, very dedicated" and working as "hard as they can" to make sure front-line policing was shielded from the cuts.

She said she was opposed to outsourcing to "private companies interested in getting profits for their shareholders" and not the best interests of the public.

DAVID LLOYD - Conservative

Image caption Conservative candidate David Lloyd believes money can be saved through collaboration and outsourcing

Conservative candidate David Lloyd, chair of the police authority, said: "In Hertfordshire we have to save between £35m and £70m in four years."

He said the money is being saved through collaboration with neighbouring forces and outsourcing plans.

He said outsourcing, not necessarily with G4S, is necessary to "makes ends meet". He said he would "never ever look at privatising the police", but backroom functions could be outsourced to improve efficiency.

MARION MASON - UK Independence Party

Image caption UKIP candidate for Hertfordshire Marion Mason says outsourcing could "fragment" the police

UK Independence Party candidate Marion Mason, an ex-nurse and former Stevenage councillor, said: "Well I don't agree with privatisation or outsourcing to G4S.

"There is no point in bringing in a private company from outside, it would end up fragmenting the police."

She said if a private company could streamline a police function, the police force could do it itself. She said savings could be made through collaboration with neighbouring police forces.


Image caption Lib Dem candidate Christopher Townsend says he is opposed to outsourcing

Liberal Democrat candidate Christopher Townsend, a Dacorum Borough councillor, said: "At the moment the only plan fully worked out is the outsourcing. I am opposed to that.

"The alternative is collaboration with neighbouring police forces. We can share our back office functions. I think the majority of savings can be made by thinking intelligently about our organisational structure."

He said he would not be opposed to some non-sensitive areas - such as contract cleaners - being outsourced but only if savings could be clearly made.