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West Mids Chief: Outsourcing ‘A Modernising Tool’

CC Chris Sims speaks to PoliceOracle.com after frank exchange of views with MPs

The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police has defended his bid to have a policing partnership with the private sector – even though the proposal is not guaranteed to save money.

CC Chris Sims (pictured) told PoliceOracle.com that transformation of the way the police worked was more important in the long term.

The Chief was speaking after being forced to defend his position at the Home Affairs Committee alongside Surrey Chief Lynne Owens. Both forces are looking into the possibility of outsourcing some of their services to the private sector.

¬We want there to be savings but the point I was trying to get across is this is not driven by short term financial demand.¬

The procurement process currently underway could cost up to £5 million, the hearing heard.

After the heated debate, CC Sims told PoliceOracle.com: “We want there to be savings but the point I was trying to get across is this is not driven by short term financial demand.

“We have worked very hard to make spending targets in this spending review period. This is a 10-year process we are looking to – a period after which are not going to have more opportunities to invest. This is a creative way to transform our business by involving other parties.

“There will be a transformation in terms of what officers receive, better decisions, better control of resources, better customer interface and better engagement with citizens.”

Committee Chairman Keith Vaz, told PoliceOracle.com that he still had reservations over the potential cost of the procurement process both forces were currently undertaking.

But he said he wished both Chiefs well because “they have a mandate from the 41 other forces” who are choosing to back their proposals.

Mr Vaz added: “Five million pounds is a lot of police time.

“It might end up being more expensive than what is being done at the moment.

“I am not sure that will fit into what the government wants.”

During the meeting at Westminster’s Portcullis House, both chiefs were regularly interrupted as they attempted to defend themselves from questions posed by committee members.

At one point CC Sims was accused of being vague by member David Winnick, Labour MP for Walsall, after he demanded to know what services would potentially be outsourced to the private sector. Both forces are yet to specify which functions would actually be given over.

CC Sims said: “This is not a helpful type of question.”

Mr Vaz responded: “With the greatest respect to you I think it is up to the committee to ask its own questions whether it is helpful or not.”

The Chairman has asked the forces to return to the committee once there is further information on the services likely to be outsourced.

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