Private security company G4S is about to sign a deal which would see it building and staffing the first British police station run by a private security contractor.
The deal with Lincolnshire Police Authority – expected to be signed within days – represents the most radical outsourcing of law enforcement so far, according to a report last week in the Financial Times .
The contract will see G4S take over jobs previously handled by police officers including custody and ID duties (but with custody sergeants still on hand), control room staffing, town enquiry officers, the crime management bureau, the criminal justice unit and firearms licensing.
But Simon Reed, vice-chair of the Police Federation, told the FT that he had some reservations about the scheme, as private employees may not have the same enshrined sense of public duty as police officers.
“Our concern is the resilience of the companies doing this,” he said. “When we have national emergencies or unforeseen events, will they be able to bring their staff in to work long hours, regardless of what their contracts say?”
The police station move is part of a £200m contract with G4S over 10 years. Other police forces are said to be considering similar moves.
In a joint statement announcing the contract last December , Lincolnshire Police Authority chairman Barry Young and chief constable Richard Crompton said:
“Over the period of the contract this new approach will make significant savings, whilst also providing investment in key areas like IT infrastructure. The subsequent streamlining of processes will free up officer time to concentrate on operational policing.
“This new approach will mean that the leanest police force in Britain, which already provides its services at the lowest cost per head of population, will be able to meet the challenges laid down by the government, whilst also meeting the high standards rightly expected by the people of Lincolnshire.”
John Shaw, managing director of G4S police support services, said:
“Lincolnshire is leading the way in responding to the challenges of the economic environment and this transformation project will mean many of the services provided by Lincolnshire Police will now be delivered externally by specialists who can deliver greater savings and improve efficiency.
“We believe that the combination of Lincolnshire’s policing model and our expertise in delivering middle and back office functions will improve services and deliver the savings the Authority needs.