The Police and Public Services (PPS) section of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) has welcomed comments by senior politicians that a greater role for the private sector in delivering public services is “straightforward and obvious”.
Speaking at a conference hosted by think-tank Reform, Cabinet Minister, Oliver Letwin, cited a greater need for financial efficiency as a key driver for greater public / private partnerships. He said: “We need, desperately, much more urgently than we would have done if we had more money, to find means of opening up the public service, creating competition and choice.”
In December 2011, Lincolnshire Police announced that G4S had won a contract to provide back office functions, the first contract of its kind to be let by a British Police Authority.
Mr Letwin’s department published a White Paper on public service reforms last year, which set out five key principles, including the suggestion that public services should be opened to new providers in voluntary, public and private sectors.
Echoing Mr Letwin’s comments, Home Secretary Theresa May, also speaking at the same conference, added that it was vital to harness the innovation of the private sector to help the police force, and that the public “wouldn’t care” if back-office functions in the police were carried out by private contractors, rather than civil servants.
Last November, the BSIA’s PPS Section held a roundtable meeting in Parliament to discuss this very issue, raising awareness among key politicians from across the political spectrum and generating lively debate about the benefits and perceived drawbacks of increased partnership working between the Police and the private security industry.
Robbie Calder, Chair of the BSIA’s dedicated Police and Public Services section, commented: “At present, our police officers perform far too many tasks that don’t necessarily require the presence of a warranted officer, for example, managing cordons, area searches and taking witness statements. The introduction of a new era of regulation, including company registration, will hopefully serve to increase police confidence in working alongside our industry.”
Robbie adds: “The BSIA’s PPS Section welcomes these more recent comments, as they echo some of the sentiments expressed at our roundtable meeting in 2011. It is encouraging to see that these views are shared by senior politicians.”
“This year, with the introduction of elected police commissioners and the economic implications of partnership working, there has never been a better opportunity to make a positive change and explore this issue further. The private security industry, led by the BSIA, will take a strong stance to continue this debate and improve awareness of the industry’s integrity, professionalism and capability to deliver this essential service.”