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Fed: Home Sec Should Reconsider Outsourcing

Staff association calls for senior minister to follow defence secretary’s lead and think again about role of private security firms

Senior members of the Police Federation have applauded the Defence Secretary’s comment that the Olympic Games has forced him re-think his views on privatisation – and have called on the Home Secretary to do the same.

Regional branches of the staff association pointed out that hundreds of officers – in addition to the many thousands of troops – were pressed into action during the sporting showcase after security firm G4S was unable to provide enough personnel.

Chairman of Hampshire Police Federation John Apter said ministers should to speak out for those “who had filled gaps left by broken promises” and called on Theresa May to follow the lead of her cabinet colleague Philip Hammond.

He told PoliceOracle.com: “Mr Hammond has recognised that there are limits to what private firms can do – his view has perhaps been influenced by the inability of G4S to provide enough personnel, which had a negative impact on his department.

“Those same inabilities have forced our service to adapt at very short notice, yet the Home Secretary remains silent about private firms taking big chunks of policing.”

Mr Apter said the Home Affairs Select Committee was due to take evidence from witnesses including Mrs May at two special hearings focusing on the Olympics next month, and agreed that a “post-mortem” of the event needed to be carried out.

But he added: “I think chief constables and police and crime commissioners need to acknowledge that we have now seen some of the pitfalls of private security contracts.

“Now is an appropriate moment to stop and think about this issue in some depth before we move forward and hand the Crown Jewels over to the highest bidder.”

Mr Apter’s sentiments were shared by Mark Botham, Chairman of North Yorkshire Police Federation, who said the staff association had often warned about “mass privatisation”.

He added: “Policing is about more than crime and we need the public to engage with us to ensure we retain a policing model admired across the world.”

In addition, Fed national Vice-Chairman Simon Reed said: “Privatisation of policing provides no benefit to the public and arguably, if the police end up stepping in again when private firms fail to deliver, an additional cost to the taxpayer.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said it was a matter for individual forces and police and crime commissioners to decide if outsourcing was appropriate.

In a statement, the department added: “Policing is not being privatised. Core police functions will continue to be delivered by sworn officers and no police powers will be given to private contractors beyond the limited powers allowed by the last government.

"Police officers alone will make arrests and lead investigations, and officers will continue to patrol the streets and respond to incidents. However, the private sector can help to support delivery of police services better and at lower cost, for example improving technology used by officers and providing staff for control rooms and custody centres, releasing officers for front-line duties.

"The police is and will remain a public service, accountable to the people, and any decisions on business partnering will be taken by police and crime commissioners, giving local people a say."

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