Conservative governments in the UK love privatisation. Fact.
Many of the ills of the UK energy industry, water services, public transport companies and more stem back to the Margaret Thatcher era of Conservative government. There was money to be made out of privatisation and it is not hard to find out who made it. Sadly for the population as a whole it was a lose, lose process. Competition for example in UK rail services led to different parts of the industry being owned by different companies. A train journey across the UK now involves the use of many different companies and the standard of travel, plus pricing, varies greatly.
The current Coalition government is Conservative led. Whilst the Tories need the Liberal Democrats right now to stay in office the Tories are still the majority player in the agreement. Whether this means that the two parties are happy with plans to privatise the UK Police Force is not clear. Of course Tory followers and politicians will probably be ecstatic.
There are many issues raised by the new proposals but firstly what are the proposals?
According to the Guardian:-"Private companies could take responsibility for investigating crimes, patrolling neighbourhoods and even detaining suspects under a radical privatisation plan being put forward by two of the largest police forces in the country. West Midlands and Surrey have invited bids from G4S and other major security companies on behalf of all forces across England and Wales to take over the delivery of a wide range of services previously carried out by the police.The contract is the largest on police privatisation so far, with a potential value of £1.5bn over seven years, rising to a possible £3.5bn depending on how many other forces get involved. This scale dwarfs the recent £200m contract between Lincolnshire police and G4S, under which half the force's civilian staff are to join the private security company, which will also build and run a police station for the first time."
The Guardian also carried this link: A 26-page "commercial in confidence" contract note seen by the Guardian
So let's take a look at a few of the negatives surrounding the issue of privatisation of the UK police force. It is not rocket science and they are blatantly obvious when you come to think about it.
Wikipedia carries a little pertinent information about G45 security group and its UK ties:-
G45 may or may not be assured of winning the policing tender. That remains to be seen.
Their track record is not good:
Interestingly the company is a contractor in the UK Government's 'Welfare to Work' scheme which has been receiving such bad press in recent weeks. Reports of fraud at the company running the scheme plus the news that the unemployed were being forced into this work in order to receive their benefits, and nothing more, does not bode well.
It does however partly explain the current governments plans on privatisation of the UK police. The pieces of the jigsaw are all starting to fit together. The government may claim that the private security firms will have limited powers but remember once in place that can and will, IMHO, soon be changed.
Welfare for work was begun under the last Labour government but of course this government has tweaked it to suit its own ends.
We also need to seriously consider who will be making the money from such changes to our policing? Former head of UK counter terrorism John Yates resigned after allegations made through the NotW phone hacking scandal and police corruption investigation. He is now working to reform the police force in Bahrain. A lucrative post one imagines?
Whilst the changes to policing in the UK may bring short term financial gains they could unleash more problems than they solve. Finding out who will be making money out of these changes will prove challenging but worthwhile. If the changes go ahead we shall take a look at the company who wins the tender. Should make for interesting reading.
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Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog
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