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Home Sec Clarifies Privatisation Position

Theresa May rules out any extension of private sector involvement in the Police Service beyond delivery support

Private sector employees will not receive any warranted powers to make arrests under the current government's policy, the Home Secretary has said.

Theresa May assured the federation that “core police functions” would continue to be carried out by officers, and “they alone” would be able to make arrests and lead investigations.

However in response to a letter from the staff association outlining privatisation concerns, Mrs May said she still supported the outsourcing of support functions, such as custody suites and call centres, to provide better services at lower cost.

The letter came as the Fed asked for “firm leadership” over the police privatisation issue following G4S’ failure to provide a sufficient number of security guards at the London Olympics.

For the first time Mrs May appeared to rule out extending any core policing powers to the private sector – including possible patrols.

She told Fed officials in the letter: “You state that front-line policing should not be done by the private sector and I agree.

“We have no intention of extending warranted powers of the police to the private sector, beyond those already achieved under the last government.”

Mrs May said private companies still had a role to play with jobs normally carried out by police staff.

She added: “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 federation had cited a recent example of civilian investigators being recruited by forces as evidence that the Police Service was “going down the road of privatising key policing areas”.

But Mrs May said this had been the case for more than 10 years, pointing out that civilian investigators were sometimes used, but never led investigations.

She added: “Private sector contractors are supporting forces to free up officers to fight crime by working in partnership with them, not replacing the roles of officers.”

Mrs May’s letter came as the Home Affairs Select Committee announced the Secretary of State will face MPs on Thursday (September 6) to give evidence about security at the Olympic Games.

It is understood the questions will probe the extent of the police and military involvement in the event following the G4S fiasco.

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