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PCCs 'Will Find Anti-Privatisation Agenda Appealing’

More candidates likely to campaign on anti-outsourcing agenda following negative publicity surrounding G4S, say analysts

More police and crime commissioner candidates could embrace anti-outsourcing agendas in the wake of the controversy surrounding G4S and the Olympics.

According to law enforcement analysts, many of those seeking election are set to latch on to straightforward and populist themes as they attempt to garner public support.

But the analysts have voiced concern that, with the realities of 20 per cent cuts in central government grants to police forces, the consideration of private sector collaboration must remain firmly on the table as an option going forward.

As reported on PoliceOracle.com Surrey Police Authority has confirmed it will no longer be pursuing its Business Privatisation Partnering (BPP) programme with West Midlands Police– after police and crime commissioner candidates opposed it.

The police authority voted to halt the plans on July 12, adding it was minded to withdraw altogether. A final decision will be taken at its next meeting on September 6.

Concerns over private security involvement in the public sector has since been exacerbated after G4S admitted it could not supply thousands of staff it had promised for the Olympics – and that extra police and troops are being drafted in.

Former Surrey Police chief constable and ex-Met assistant commissioner Bob Quick, who is now the Chief Executive of analyst BlueLight Global Solutions, predicted that there would be “pre-election posturing” among police and crime commissioner candidates on the outsourcing issue.

But he believed they would need to engage in an informed debate going forward.

Mr Quick added: “I think that there is going to be a temptation to dumb down the debate and use the G4S episode as a reason not to involve the private sector in policing.

“But in my view this is disingenuous – what needs to happen in reality is a thoughtful and informed debate about where the private sector can add value.

“If the cuts facing the police are real and the government is ultimately not going to back down, the service is either going to have to see capability decline or fundamentally change the way it delivers what it does. The question needs to be asked if this can be achieved with assistance from the private sector.

However, academic Dr Tim Brain predicted that commissioners would follow the public mood, and would avoid private sector partnering if they saw fit to do so.

Dr Brain – a former chief constable of Gloucestershire Constabulary – added: “When decisions are made the primary motive will be whether they are a politically sound.

“The successful candidates are likely to be those who can latch onto a few straightforward political statements – it is going to be a brave new world indeed.”

Dr Brain admitted he was concerned that elected commissioners would not pay heed to complex issues, focusing on attempting to cull what they saw as back office functions.

Elsewhere, there were warnings that simplistic populist agendas could harm forces from a former senior Met officer, who did not want to be named.

He said: “There is a quote from GK Chesterton that runs along the lines of: ‘Before you take the gates down, find out why they were put up in the first place’.

“I find it extraordinary that, when I have visited the USA where they have elected mayors, people are in awe of the system we have in the UK. My feeling is that the Police Service is now going to be forced to act out of political expediency.”

The former officer was adamant that some candidates would end up shunning private sector partnering in the wake of the recent G4S controversy.

“Decisions will to be taken for the wrong reasons – for political reasons,” he added.

However, Simon Duckworth, of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ Transitional Board, said it would be down to candidates to determine their way forward.

He added: “Police Forces in England and Wales are faced with 20 per cent funding cuts by 2015. PCCs will need to make tough choices about how to balance their forces books.”

“They will need to choose from public, private and voluntary sector organisations to best deliver the efficiencies they need.”

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