Do the public want a privatised police?

March 6th, 2012

The argument put forward by the West Midlands and Surrey forces in putting out a £1.5bn contract for greater private sector involvement in policing is that it would allow private companies to carry out routine and repetitive tasks at cheaper rates whilst allowing highly trained and professional police officers to concentrate more time on key activities which require their skills and expertise.   An enticing idea, but in practice full of pitfalls.   There is the fraught question of where to draw the line between the work of a warranted officer and that of imported civilian personnel, and if this is left to individual chief constables there are likely to be wide variations across the country leading perhaps to lack of cross-force cooperation.   But wherever the line is drawn, there will be the risk of privatisation creep without public understanding or approval.   Indeed perhaps the central issue is, do the public really want this?   Their desire to get assurance from the visible presence of uniformed officers on the beat will be thwarted.   Should a major reform of this kind go ahead without some clear indication of public consent? (more…)