We are all now aware that West Midlands Police and Surrey Police have issued an EU wide invitation to companies to tender for policing services. If you look at the tender it covers everything from :
- Managing Performance
- Bringing Offenders to Justice
- Patrolling Neighbourhoods
- Dealing with incidents, major and minor
- Leading the Service
- Managing Public Engagements
- Managing Resources
- Protecting the Public
One example would be that private companies would supply investigators working under a detective to attend and investigate crime. Some forces already work this model except that the team under the detective are permanent and employed by the police. Surrey already do this and they have one of the worst crime detection rates in the country. I can see where this is going. A poor detective will have a huge crime workload and each day an agency will provide different staff to turn up and carry out enquiries. No continuity. Little idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the investigators. The public will get a very poor service with a reduced chance of their crime being detected.
Another example would be patrolling neighbourhoods. Security staff would take over from PCSO's and some neighbourhood officers. These would be on minimum wage with no pension costs to the police. What kind of service would the public get from these staff? Where does the accountability lay? What happens when it all goes wrong?
The two architects of this scheme are Chris Sims Chief Constable of West Midlands and Mark Rowley former Chief Constable of Surrey and now Met Assistant Commissioner. This has been over a year in the planning and now the new Chief Constable of Surrey, Lynne Owens, has been handed the baby on behalf of Surrey. Chris and Mark are the sort of leaders Tom Winsor thinks we are lacking in the police. Chris is an Oxford graduate and Mark Cambridge. They have both shot through the ranks spreading their wisdom and ideas, never hanging around long enough to be held to account for the chaos they have left behind. They obviously have the vision and leadership that the police service needs.
Lynne Owens is a far more practical and pragmatic beast. She has no intention of following the agenda she has been left by Mark Rowley and is backing away from the project as fast as she can without openly criticising her predecessor.
Chris Sims must have realised by now that he is on his own with this project. Good luck to West Midlands Police! Privatisation could however provide all sorts of management and consultancy opportunities for retiring ACPO officers, but I am sure Mr Sims will not fall into the trap of champagne dinners, health spas and free lunches from former ACPO colleagues Lord Condon at G4S and Lord Blair at Blue Light Global Solutions.
For years we have been cutting the fat out of the police service. There is nothing left. There is a permanent smell of ammonia as the muscle of the organisation is now being broken down. There is an assumption that privatisation will bring about savings and efficiencies with it's more effective management. In my experience, when you bring 'civilianisation' or privatisation into the police, the roles become more inefficient. By the time the company has taken it's profit cut from the budget there will simply be less to spend on the service and the public will suffer with lower levels of service and standards with less accountability.