UNISON warns that privatising police support services would be ‘the tip of the iceberg’

CRIME investigation, 999-call handling and forensics could be put into the hands of private companies in future, police staff warned this week as they stepped up a campaign against plans to outsource some police services.

On Thursday, the police authority will consider privatising a number of operations - including ICT, finance, fleet management and corporate communications - in a bid to save money.

UNISON Cambridgeshire police branch secretary Dave Craig said: “I believe these plans are just the tip of the ice berg and more services could be privatised, including custody and detention, and this would lead to a poorer service for the public.”

Cambridgeshire, along with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire police, is considering whether to tackle a �73million funding shortfall created by government cuts, by privatisation.

Services under consideration for outsourcing include estate and facilities management, business support, records and information management and procurement. They currently cost the three forces �77million a year, and employ more than 1,100 people.

Mr Craig said: “UNISON members are quite rightly concerned at the speed at which these proposals are being rushed through, prior to the elections for a police and crime commissioner in November, the elected candidate being presented with a fait accompli.

“The current swathe of services that are being considered for contracting out could lead to further services being contracted out such as crime investigation, forensics, 999 call-handling, custody and detention. Many of the savings, it is believed, will translate into profit and would not be re-invested in front line policing.

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UNISON has commissioned an independent consultancy to provide an analysis on the recommendations. Their report on a money saving in-house option will go to Thursday’s meeting.

Mr Craig added: “Why should public money line the pockets of private shareholders? Once the private companies have taken out their profit margins, the public purse for policing services will be a lot slimmer, leaving the public with a poorer police service.

“Any resident of Cambridgeshire can attend the meeting to ask relevant questions of the police authority or submit questions via the police authority website. “The Police Authority is currently receiving questions from concerned residents of Cambridgeshire via their web site http://www.cambs-pa.gov.uk/