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.

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