Wednesday, 14 November 2012

38Degrees Police privatisation answers lead to one BIG question. sent me an e-mail which included Thames Valley Police Crime Commissioner candidates answers to their questions about privatisation.

Some were surprising. Perhaps there is nothing to fear. Or they are just the right noises like the 'Green' noises made in the run up to the last general election and the scandal that has come to light since.

How can I be sure they won't simply act a different way?

Please do not think I am rude. I think it is simply prudent.

To the Police Crime Commissioner Candidates

Using 'privatisation' as a generic term for out sourcing, private contracts, contracting etc. Do you all consent to the two paragraphs below.

Before allowing a private contract in which a current (now) chain of command, presence or investigative role is outsourced, you will stand down for a bi-election?

Before acting in a way regarding privatisation that 12 professional independent individuals in majority agree is not in keeping with the impression given in your statements to 38degrees below, you will stand down for a bi-election.

Responses in order of response

Barry Cooper

Sure - but only if it is a function that is primarily a police one. I wont stand down if I outsource something non-police.

Not that I am a fan of that either, as my 38 degree reply reflects.
And not if I am logistically unable to put things in place to replace existing contracts as quickly as I would like.


Answers to 38Degrees questions

Tim Starkey (Labour):
I can confirm that I oppose police privatisation; it is an issue that I feel strongly about as I believe that the police should always be working in the public interest. Policing decisions should be motivated by what is best for the public, not by what maximises private sector profits.

Anthony Stansfeld (Conservatives):
No, I am not a supporter of outsourcing, and I have absolutely no interest in any firm involved in outsourcing,

Barry Cooper (UKIP):
I am unreservedly, unequivocally and completely against the privatisation of any function that could be considered one that should be undertaken by police officers or ancillary specialist staff that should be answerable to the police chain of command (such as forensics). At no time should community safety be subject to shareholder interests or concerns about profit margins.

I will go further than this - the contract for private jailors at the Thames Valley custody suites is up for renewal shortly after the PCC takes office. If time permits me to juggle the logistics, I will not be renewing that contract. I consider jailing a primary police function. If circumstances dictate that I have to renew it, I will do so for as short a period as possible and set resources in place to take over at the very earliest opportunity.

Even with non-police functions, I will only outsource if it provides value for money, and extensive examples throughout the public sector shows that it seldom does. I do not anticipate much, if any, outsourcing even when it comes to this sort of service if it is already undertaken more efficiently and cheaply by people employed by Thames Valley Police.

I do not have, nor have I ever had, any sort of relationship with a company that provides private policing services or would be in a position to tender for any sort of contracts originating from the Thames Valley Police.

Geoff Howard (Independent):
1. The scope for privatising parts of the police services in the Thames Valley should be limited in the extreme and should only be introduced if absolutely necessary when all other avenues have been exhausted.

2. I will oppose greater private involvement, especially when incompetent companies like G4S wish to become involved.

3. I have never been personally involved, and neither have any members of my family or friends, with such potential private providers.

John Howson (LibDems):
I have no connection with any company that might bid of any services or contract with the police or any other agency linked to the PCC role. No front-line services not already under contract will be contracted-out although back office functions may be and collaboration with other forces will be considered where cost-effective. If there is a profit to be made, that profit should normally be used for public services and not for shareholders. The third sector already provides a number of services to victims, witnesses and other areas covered by the PCC role. They are generally 'not for loss' organisations.

Patience Tayo Awe (Independent):
I will not privatise Thames Valley police.

Will not allow G4S to get involved in the running of Thames Valley police.

No connections to companies that might be interested in police contracts.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Here it is. Wokingham Regeneration £100m contract. Sorta.

So after an appeal and involving the ICO the information that Cllr Alistair Corrie refused to share with you, even though it is the fair and proper thing to do has been been made available by the disputes team at Wokingham BC.

Or at least some of it.

The strip out list is this.

  • Financial figures – all have been redacted due to commercial sensitivity
  • Other figures (percentages etc)   - all have been redacted as they could lead to a commercial disadvantage to our commercial sector partners if other potential customers/clients have access to such information
  • Timescales - all have been redacted as they could lead to a commercial disadvantage to our commercial sector partners if other potential customers/clients have access to such information
  • Conditions – identification and detail of all conditions have been redacted as they could lead to a commercial disadvantage to our commercial sector partners if other potential customers/clients have access to such information
  • Company names have been retained but personal names have been redacted for Data Protection reasons 
  • Identification of potential suppliers and operators have been redacted due to commercial sensitivity
  • Many of the appendicies have been redacted in full as they contain detailed financial information which is deemed commercially sensitive 

Wokingham Regeneration £100m Contract Download

I will be continuing with the ICO compaint. I've not read this mountainous document yet but I'm confident that this level of redacted 'competitive' information also limits us from having any idea if we are getting a good deal. A bad public contract is normally benefits both deal makers at the expense of the public and create a drive towards developing over green spaces.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Public Wokingham Regeneration £100m Contract with Wilson Bowden Developments still secret. Sorry. Still trying.

Yesterday I submitted a complaint to the ICO about Wokingham Borough Council refusing to share public interest information on the terms of the £100m contract between the now dormant Wokingham Enterprises Ltd and Wilson Bowden Developments.

The process of trying to get details of the contract via the Freedom of Information Act started on 1st of August.

Full rejection, not even limited information as required, August 18th

Appeal started that same day.

A 26th of October date was given by Corporate Counsel and Deputy Monitoring Officer for update. They accepted that I have the right to a version with commercially sensitive information stripped out.

Deadline was missed. No communication offered.

October 31st I said that I would hold out on a compliant to the ICO if I could expect the info soon and and I was given a new update day of Friday 2nd. Deadline missed. Message sent to ICO on Sunday night.

So. It's now down to the ICO. It is a first time for me. Very interested to see what 'Freedom of Information' means when public contract valued at £100m is able to be withheld.


I'm not sure if this is the result of the disputes team or ICO but I received redracted contract on 09 Nov 2012. Link below.

Historic shot of Wokingham

Council are selling some of Elms field today. Did you know?

A sad day indeed. underhanded Tories can not deny that if you asked 10 random people in Wokingham town centre if they know about this you would have 9-10 'No' answers.

If they asked if they 'could' with an informed opposer having an equal say they would also have 9-10 'No' answers.

There argument that they have to sell it to carry out the Wokingham Regeneration plan is flawed in that the plan should never have depended on it?

LibDems leader did not publicise either and were well aware. They were my hope for ridding Wokingham of politics funded by business. There were only 6 official objections. I would have had I known. I keep abreast of these things better than 95% of the population can hope to.

Is it a coalition here too? Right public noises just too late. No call to arms. 

If only six people officially objected  is it evidence of agreement or  making 'have your say' impossibly hard. Or is it just defeatism from a population who have no suitable public representatives who are fit for purpose. 

We are busy enough choosing which private energy company to use every few months. Let alone which local (walking distance) community resource to oppose selling off or to ask why a two story science block on owned land cost £5m instead of £2m

I leave you with an image to remember. I have fond memories of summer picnics there with a fairly full play area, and the few basket ball games we intended to have more of but, thanks to political capitalism, never found the time. And now never will.

I urge you to stop voting for parties and start voting for people.

TVPCC elections coming up on 15th

I'm voting for the people who are firmest against privatisation, are not funded by hopeful private contractors and are responsive.

1st Starkey because of his legal background 
2nd Cooper

Stanfield will not give any commitments on privatisation. His party is backed by them so I guess his best strategy has to be to keep quiet.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Will the Thames Valley Police Crime Commissioner sell careers to investors?

Unlike many I am behind the concept of having someone outside the force decide if a policeman has committed a criminal act or not and the issue followed up.

In the right hands I applaud having someone outside the existing purchasing system overseeing expenditure, budgets and priorities. Hopefully this will result in two way scrutiny where both commissioner and existing team are ensuring the deals offer value and are not a get rich quick scheme for individuals employing cheap labour.

I am concerned that that the eventual winner will have a degree of financial control, the power to hire, fire and privatise, that might attract those with personal interests to the role

Political funding does not yet have proper limits, and there are just two years grace for a public servant to go and work for those they award a contract to.  Wealth is largely impossible to trace anyway. There is great scope for self or party interest in the position.

Investors will have backed their men. Who will their men back in return. Us?

I've asked that all of our potential Police Crime Commissioners to offer some closure on these adjuncts to democracy that are as yet not part of ours.

A commitment to not privatising any police services or what levels they would consider.

Asked directly if they or their party were funded by those who are likely to gain privatised police contracts.

I suspect most of the applicants believe in themselves and want to do the best job they can. But we if we are going to stop getting the wrong people in politics we are going to have to ask direct questions and demand straight answers for our votes.

Candidate relevant quotes in order of receipt or discovery

Tim Starkey: Labour: From PCC website

"Cutting police funding by 20% is criminal. By 2015 over 15000 police officers will have been cut, meaning fewer officers to respond to 999 calls and investigate crime. I will protect frontline policing and work to restore total police officer numbers in the Thames Valley to their 2010 levels.
Stop the Privatisation of The Police
West Midlands and Surrey police forces have recently issued a joint call for bids for private firms to deliver services including investigating offences, patrolling the streets and detaining suspects. This is a privatisation too far. As Yvette Cooper said: “Victims need to be confident that decisions on whether to investigate crimes or pursue particular criminals are made in the public interest, not in the private interest of a company.” I also believe that it is vital that the job of patrolling is not contracted out so that officers remain in touch with, and trusted by the communities they serve.

Responded "No" to any hopeful private contractor funding.


John Howson: Lib Dem: Response to direct e-mail
"In a service where the majority of costs are staff costs I would need to be clear that any privatisation improved the level of service at a lower cost. I would also need to be clear why the profit element could not be better used at improving service levels rather than paying a profit. However, there are many third sector organisations that effectively operate on a 'not for loss' basis that work in fields such as victim support. As another example, the use of private door supervisors in licensed premises undoubtedly saves money in dealing with nighttime economy issues, but the new nighttime levy will pay for police officers. Whether it would have been better to encourage licensed premises to take greater responsibility or pay for the police to do so is an interesting issue.

However, my general rule of thumb is that a public service should be delivered by public servants. The other drawback is that private sector contractors often aren't required to adhere to the same standards as the police. Any procurement should consider the same 'no strike' requirement that is placed upon the police by law. 

As to your second point, the electorate can decide whether I have performed to a level that they are satisfied with at the next election.


Barry Cooper: UKIP: Response to direct e-mail
"Anything that is primarily a police function should not be undertaken by a private company. As someone with libertarian leanings, I believe that the primary (those further along the libertarian scale than I would say "only") purpose of the state is the protection of persons and property from external and internal dangers. Such basic functions should never be subject to shareholder interests or profit margins. This is not only a police issue in the criminal justice system - the situation with the creeping privatisation of prison service is inexcusable and indefensible.

I include custody suites in that belief, which is the only primary police function even partially privatised in the Thames Valley at the moment. If logistically possible, I will not be renewing the contract for this provision when it expires shortly after taking office. I will certainly make sure that provisions are in place to make it possible to not renew it in the future even if forced to do so this time around.

I am a firm believer that the police are also members of the PCC's constituency and are not some sort of abstract demographic to be ignored or neglected, or indeed lambasted to score cheap political points. The police are against privatisation, and I stand firmly with them on this issue. Given the low morale issues resulting from Coalition government cuts and the Winsor reforms, outsourcing the execution of their duties is hardly something any rational person wants to see.

I commit to never succumbing to back-handers or any other form of influence from private law enforcement providers. As PCC my role is to be the democratic conduit of the public's will in how policing is shaped in the Thames Valley; I am not in it to be wined, dined, feted and made rich.

As to a resignation and bi-election should I be forced to engage in some level of privatisation, well, no. It is my intention to not privatise anything according to my own principles and beliefs as well as act on what the public want me to do (and they don't want privatisation), but a PCC is also subject to Home Office decisions and it is entirely conceivable that something will be centrally decided or implemented over which I will not be able to exercise influence or control. If the electorate judge me to have violated my principles and promises, they can vote me out in 2016.

Responded 'No' to any hopeful private contractor funding.


I have had no responses from Tayo Awe or Stansfiled and have not worked out how to contact Howard. So they are on my not fit for purpose list.

The main site is here TVPPC site is here.