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Outsourcing: 'Police Watchdog Must Have Greater Powers'

IPCC Chair says contracts between forces and companies should ensure all private employees are accountable - by including a provisio

Private companies providing outsourced services to police forces could be made to agree in their contracts that all their employees will be answerable to the IPCC, a committee of MPs has heard.

IPCC Chair Dame Anne Owers told the Home Affairs Select Committee that the proposal would be “a quick fix” to ensure the employees of private companies are held to account for their actions.

¬If people are doing the jobs of the police they should be subject to the same complaints procedure as the police.¬

However, a change in legislation would be ideal in the long-term to avoid instances where the police watchdog is unable to fully investigate a complaint – due to the individuals involved being employed by a private company.

PoliceOracle.com was told after the hearing that the IPCC wanted this change to apply to employees across the board – from former police staff that have swapped to a private company but continue to work for the same force and those who operate remotely from the force but still provide a service.

In the second instance, this could include a force’s IT or finance department, classed as back office, which may have been outsourced in its entirety to a private company and attains a degree of independence.

Dame Anne told MPs: “If people are doing the jobs of the police they should be subject to the same complaints procedure as the police.”

She said “a reference to our jurisdiction” could be included in contracts as a starting point.

Currently the IPCC can only investigate private individuals working on behalf of forces if they are classed as “custody officers”.

The issue came to a head when the watchdog investigated how Cleveland Police handled four calls over concerns for a man’s welfare, two of which were picked up by employees of Steria, to which the service had been contracted out.

In this case the IPCC came to an agreement with the company, which willing gave its co-operation to the investigation – but it had not been obliged to do so.

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