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Outsourcing: ‘Police Must Cover Own Backs'

Theresa May insists private partnerships are beneficial but warns forces to hold companies to account themselves

Police forces should take precautionary steps themselves to ensure private partners can deliver on their promises, the Home Secretary has said.

Theresa May said police authorities, and the elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs) who will replace them, had to be sure they had procedures in place to check on the performance of private firms during service delivery.

Mrs May’s comments came at the Home Affairs Select Committee on September 6 where two MPs pressed her over G4S’ failure to deliver enough security personnel for the Olympic Games.

Although the committee heard “a rigorous assurance process” had eventually picked up the G4S provision gap - with daily meetings between LOCOG, the security giant and the government - it was also told the same might not be possible at a local police force level.

MP Nicola Blackwood said a contingency plan, the military and “a fantastic Police Service” ensured the G4S contract failure did not blight security at the games.

But she added: “We might not have that in a local police environment so how are we going to fix that situation and ensure local people can have private sector delivery?”

Mrs May said the government was working with forces to increase their chances of success should they look into procuring contracts with private partners.

But she said it was largely their responsibility to make appropriate checks and ensure a similar fiasco did not arise.

She said: “What matters are the details of the contract and the negotiations that take place - and for the public sector body that is undertaking that contract to assure themselves, in a variety of ways, that the company they are dealing with can deliver on the product they are intending to deliver on.”

She later added: “It will be up to them (PCCs), working with chief constables, to look at the whole question of procurement but the Home Office has been working with police forces to ensure procurement is done in a way which can get maximum possible benefit for the police.”

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