UNITE has produced a powerful and compelling video on police privatisation.
It should give a clear message to the Home Office as well as to Chief Constables and putative elected Police and Crime Commissioners that simply out-sourcing large chunks of the police service will attract substantial opposition and is potentially hugely unpopular with the public.
There are no doubt some functions currently performed by in-house staff or by warranted officers that could be provided more efficiently by external providers. However, there are some functions which should never be allowed to fall outside the personal direction and control of the chief officer of police. This means that any out-sourcing proposals need to be clearly defined and consensus should be sought on whether the areas of activity can genuinely be provided from outside the police service without harming the coherence and integration of police services. The other key question that will have to be addressed explicitly is the accountability of those providing the service and the governance arrangements that are to be put around the activities.
So far, this has not been a convincing element of the proposals that have been floated. However, the next few years are likely to bring unprecedented reductions in policing budgets. These issues are not going to go away. And that is why the debate should start now. The UNITE video should be a catalyst for this process.