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Comment: Olympic Achievements And Privatisation

Royston Martis wonders if the Games will change ministers’ minds about outsourcing in the Police Service

Two little words - thank you. They were a long time in coming.

And if ever these words were uttered through gritted teeth they were last weekend from the Home Secretary and the policing minister as they thanked officers from across the UK who had helped to make the Olympics safe and secure.

The Home Secretary managed one paragraph of praise: “The police have done a fantastic job.”

The police minister managed three in total. “Over the past fortnight our police officers have shown why they are the finest in the world,” Nick Herbert said.

It is almost as if someone in the Home Office had sat them down and said "look Theresa, Nick, you've got to get out there and say something nice...”

Of course being nice to the Police Service goes completely against this government’s agenda. A government that thinks the private sector has all the answers and public servants are for the chop.

As one police officer contact put it to me this week: “The Home office should take the blinkers off. We show every day we are the finest police service in the world. Not just for the last 14 days of the Olympics.”

Another put it in stronger terms: “The criminals we face every day treat us better than this lot.”

While this token thanks from the two government figures responsible for policing was decent – and better late than never – it will not change that they are the individuals responsible for the attacks to police officer pay and pensions.

They are the duo sanctioning huge cuts to police officer numbers across England and Wales.

They believe the “efficient” private sector is the way to go.
But could the Downing Street tide be turning?
This week we have heard two senior government ministers question the use of private firms to deliver certain services in the aftermath of G4S Olympic security shambles.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it had made him "think again" about the default use of private contractors.
And Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said only the state could provide "large-scale" contingency back-up.
In her minimal quote of praise to the police the Home Secretary cited the “huge positive feedback from public” towards Olympic officers.
Perhaps she is waking up to the fact that the public likes police officers – fully sworn happy-to-help constables on our streets - that the country needs these omni-competent cops to serve and protect us all.

Where Hammond and Hunt have led, could May and Herbert follow?

Could the Home Secretary and Police Minister copy their cabinet colleagues and make such an embarrassing U-turn on their steam rolling plans for police privatisation and officer cuts?

Two little words - fat chance.

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