Back in 1991, when there was also a similar political ruling party, Les Johnston spoke of ‘Profitshire Constabulary’ in the book ‘The Rebirth of Private Policing’ (ISBN 0-415-05193-2). Was he wide of the mark?
In 2002 the then Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Ian Blair wrote the foreword to the book ‘Private Policing’ by Mark Button (ISBN 978-1-903240-52-6) in which he stated ‘Freedom from crime and the fear of crime is not a commodity which should be controlled by market forces’ and also ‘private policing is here to stay. It has many attractive components but also some unpalatable possibilities.’
So it seems he was advocating that there needed to be clear boundaries and demarcation lines.
But by 2008 CIVITAS in ’The Public and the Police’ (ISBN 978-1903386668) were noting ‘there is a huge gap between how we want to be policed, how the police want to police us and how are actually policed.’
And within a couple of years we were facing 20% budget cuts across policing, not allowing for the effects of inflation.
On 19th January 2012 Police Professional had a series of articles looking at ‘outsourcing’ – a modern day euphemism for privatisation?
On Friday 2nd March 2012 the media revealed government plans for further privatisation of core policing functions, ably assisted by certain chief officers. The link to the BBC story below gives further detail:
Responding to news that there are plans for mass privatisation of policing, Simon Reed, Vice-Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said:
” For many months now the Police Federation has warned that this government’s plan for policing has been the destruction of the finest police service in the world in order to open doors for private business. By imposing a budget cut of 20 percent on policing they ensured that chief officers faced a dilemma as to how best to balance the books if they wish to maintain the current level of service the public receives.
However, this is an extremely dangerous road to take. 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 the public we serve.
This plan suggests that core policing roles such as police patrols and the power to detain, thus depriving people of their liberty, will be undertaken by private business employees. This would have catastrophic consequences for the high level of service the public rightly expect and currently receive. Not to mention issues of continuity, policing expertise, accountability and the risk that they could jeopardise the chance of successful investigations and convictions.
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.”
On 8th March 2012 John Tizard in his blog wrote
Contracting out police services poses difficult questions and a variety of risks. We need a serious debate if public confidence in policing is to be maintained
You can read more of his blog here
and will note he concludes
The truth is that the role and boundary between business, social and public sector providers has moved and will continue to move in many directions. However, returning to the police service specifically, the use of business and social sector employees to undertake core policing does raise some major questions such as: accountability; public authorisation (especially where the liberty and protection of citizens is at stake); and risk management.
The Huffington post also carried a blog on this subject from our national chair, Paul McKeever. In it he says
I’m genuinely baffled by the ignorance of our representatives in government. How can they sit in the comfy confines of Whitehall and undo all that has been achieved by the British police service and meddle in things they clearly dont understand?
However you need to read the blog in full
Critics of the Police Federation would expect it to be a rant against reform. It is not. As this extract shows.
It is time to ask the public what they want from policing. If they would like to see private companies involved in the everyday business of policing then fine, we should go ahead and invite companies to tender. However they havent been asked.
At the same tim we need to bear in mind it was recently announced that G4S have agreed a £200m contract with Lincolnshire police under which it will build and run a police station. Yet on Thursday 8th March 2012 the BBC were reporting outrage at plans to start charging bodies like the Royal British Legion and the local scouts for road closures at their long standing events. Didn’t North Yorkshire go through all that at one time and then common sense prevailed?
Why is it not possible to have a properly accountable, properly funded, properly resourced police service?
As these two pictures show (the first from the Guardian, the second from The Sun) , the police service cuts do not do a great deal to ease the national debt.
So are we not now seeing that the real reason for the cuts in policing and transfer to the private sector of some policing roles is about ideology not money?
For some more detaile
What really matters many would argue is that the public are protected. Agreed. But in order to do so there needs to be accountability. Be they MPs, police staff, police officers, think tankers we have to have a register that shows that none of the people pushing forward with private policing will in any way benefit financially from it.