West Midlands and Surrey police forces have invited bids from private companies to take over the delivery of a wide range of police services - which could include investigating crimes and patrolling neighbourhoods.
The forces who are two of the largest in the UK have contacted outsourcing companies on behalf of all forces across England and Wales.
The contract, estimated to be worth up to £3.5bn over seven years, opens up services that can “be legally delegated to the private sector”.
As early as 2008 Serco were researching areas of policing that could be operated by the private sector. The published report, titled ‘Making Time: Freeing Up Front-Line Policing’ Highlights how changes in the law during the Labour government has opened the door for outsourcing within police forces.
Read the full report here
Speaking last week at a conference hosted by Serco funded think-tank Reform, Home Secretary Theresa May, said that the public “wouldn’t care” if human resources and back-office functions were handed over to the private sector. Yet documents seen by the Guardian suggest that the extent of services handed to private firms could exceed back-end support.
Former deputy prime minister John Prescott, who intends to stand in the first elections for police and crime commissioners in November, has already launched a campaign to “Keep the police public” arguing that the role of private firms in policing “needs to be nipped in the bud.”
"This is extremely alarming, fundamental change to our police system. It needs to be nipped in the bud now. This is about replacing bobbies on the beat with security people."
Firms interested in bidding for the police contracts will be invited to attend a conference on the 14th of March, and it’s expected that contracts will be in place by February next year.