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Privatisation: Police Authority Faces Legal Challenge

Questions remain over why authority short listed company convicted of bribery offences in USA

West Midlands Police Authority says it has no plans to exclude any of its current bidders for a private policing contract - despite a threat of legal action which claims one of the companies should have been treated as an “ineligible bidder”.

The authority says Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) will continue to be part of its bidding process.

It had taken legal advice after being threatened with judicial review by Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) claiming KBR should have been excluded at its Pre Qualification Questionnaire stage (PPQ). The legal argument is based on KBR’s convictions before an American court in 2009 when it pleaded guilty to bribing Nigerian government officials to secure business. It was fined $402 million.

A statement from PIL, which is acting on behalf of a Birmingham resident, said: “Under the relevant procurement regulations, West Midlands Police is required to exclude KBR from the procurement process as a company convicted of bribery offences, unless it considers that there are ‘overriding requirements in the general interest’.

“What appears to have happened here is that, in response to a ‘Pre-Qualification Questionnaire’, KBR indicated that it had not been found guilty of bribery offences and West Midlands Police has blindly accepted that indication.”

The authority said that since responding to PIL‘s letter, it had not received any further correspondence concerning the claim.

PoliceOracle.com contacted PIL twice to ascertain whether the case was still going forward but no response has been received. However its legal documents concerning KBR’s activities are still on its website.

An authority statement said: “The Business Partnering for Police (BPP) Programme has obtained advice from its legal consultants and based on current information they advise that there are no grounds for mandatory exclusion of any of the short-listed bidders.”

The authority did not respond to claims however that it failed to question KBR about its service record. Neither did it provide PoliceOracle.com with reasons why it is still choosing to include KBR in its bidding process.

However in an additional statement it said: “The force is committed to identifying ways of improving the service we deliver to our communities. In order to do this we are exploring how the private sector may be able to help to transform our services and improve service delivery

“The Business Partnering for Police (BPP) programme is transparent and highly accountable.

“Until we have completed the procurement process, governed by European law, we won’t know who we will or won’t be working with. Only at the end of the process will the final contract be awarded. Absolutely no decisions have been made at this stage.

“The entire programme is subject to scrutiny and gateway reviews by the Police Authority before they hand over to the PCC in November.”

KBR was asked to respond to the claims made by PIL but PoliceOracle.com has still not received a response.

Although the next stage of the bidding process will be in the hands of the elected Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), KBR is competing with the likes of G4S, Serco, BT and Capita to win a multimillion contract to provide support services for the force.

To read the legal challenge sent to the police authority click here

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