The Home Affairs committee has backed Unite's concerns over police privatisation
In a report published today (29 May) the respected committee slammed West Midlands and Surrey police forces accusing them both of not having a clue what they are getting their respective police forces into by trying to privatise core services.
The committee said "The committee has a number of concerns about the joint procurement exercise currently being undertaken by Surrey and West Midlands Police. The Committee is not clear about the scope of what is encompassed in the procurement exercise. More worryingly, the Committee is not convinced that Surrey and West Midlands Police fully understand, or are fully able to articulate, the process they are undertaking. The Home Office is partly funding the procurement process, at a cost of several million pounds, and has some responsibility for ensuring that there is an effective communications plan in place to explain the process to interested stakeholders and ultimately to the wider public. The Committee is also concerned about the timing of the procurement exercise. It would have been preferable to wait until Police and crime commissioners were in post, in November 2012, before proceeding with this costly process."
When the West Midlands chief constable Chris Sims was giving evidence to the committee, Keith Vaz MP, chair of the home affairs select committee accused him of embarking on a "very large fishing expedition".
Unite national officer, Peter Allenson said:
"Given U-turns are all the rage it is time for the government to scrap its plans to privatise the police force. The evidence against police privatisation is growing by the day. The public don't want it and, shockingly, the police forces trying to push it through don't even understand it.
"We have always warned that the privatisation of Surrey and West Midlands police forces was a dangerous experiment which is wasting taxpayers money and now we have damming advice from the respected Home Affairs committee backing up our claims.
"The duty of the police is to put the public first not to allow private companies to put profits first."
Under guidance from the Home Office, both the West Midlands and Surrey police have advertised contracts worth £1.5 billion to private companies to run policing services in both forces. The programme could be rolled out across all 43 police forces in England and Wales. Unite, whose police force members fiercely oppose the plans, say that they will see core policing functions, including 999 call handling, prisoner transfer and forensics, put into the hands of profits-first companies.
Contact: Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315