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G4S Fiasco ‘Has Denied Sensible Outsourcing Debate’

Debacle over Olympic staffing means option has effectively been removed from the table, say academics

The furore surrounding the G4S Olympic staffing commitment has denied the Police Service a rational and informed debate on outsourcing issues.

It has been claimed that the private security firm’s high-profile failure at the sporting festival proved a turning point for electioneering police and crime commissioners, who realised that the policy would be unpopular with the public.

As previously reported G4S – which had been in the mix for outsourcing agreements with several forces – admitted that it was unable to supply its full commitment of security personnel just weeks before the Games in August.

The move saw the deployment of hundreds more police and military personnel – and a backlash culminating in company directors hauled before Parliament.

But senior law enforcement academics have said that a cool-headed and rational debate could have established sensible options for privatisation in forces going forward.

They also point out that some chief constables – who had envisaged outsourcing agreements as a means to save money – could now be left with a dilemma.

Prof Martin Innes, Director of the Universities Police Science Institute, firmly believes that the G4S fiasco was instrumental in setting the agenda on privatisation.

He told PoliceOracle.com: “Personally, I do not agree with the privatisation of constabulary functions – but I think there could have been a more sensible debate.

“Now it is as if the whole issue is off the table and you cannot even touch it.”

The concerns were shared by Jon Collins, Deputy Director of the Police Foundation, who predicted that the discarding of outsourcing as an option would leave some chiefs in difficulty.

He said: “There were forces that were looking at this (privatisation) as a means of countering the cuts that came from the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review.

“In some cases there is going to have to be a re-think about what they will do. With outsourcing off the table, those affected must now make tough choices.

“The savings are still going to have to be made and the financial situation is not getting any better – if anything we are likely to see another round of cuts in future.”

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