Thursday, 26 July 2012

Three police forces reconsider G4S contracts

Representatives from the police forces of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire met on Monday to reconsider the proposed outsourcing of administration services to the company G4S. Administration functions included in the proposals are Human Resources, Information Technology and Legal Services but do not include any core policing functions.

This development was against the backdrop of recent events in relation to the Olympics, where concerns have been raised over the ability of G4S to deliver on its contracts. Lincolnshire has been the first police force in the UK to implement the controversial outsourcing of police adminstration to G4S, formerly known as Group 4. The continuation of that contract is also now in question.

A joint statement issued by the working group, composed of twelve members, four from each of the three police authorities, said:

"The Bedfordshire Hertfordshire Cambridgeshire Joint Working Group met today (Monday) to consider a report from the three chief constables, in which they raised concerns regarding the ability of the Lincolnshire/G4S contract to meet the specific needs of the BCH strategic alliance for the delivery of organisational support services."

Monday's meeting decided that further work would be required to examine the situation and that the Joint Working Group will deliver a report with their conclusions in mid-August.

The statement continued:

"If the Lincolnshire/G4S contract did not prove suitable, informed by the outline business case, a recommendation would be brought to police authorities to progress the bespoke procurement of a commercial provider to deliver organisational support services. This would be allow incoming Police and Crime Commissioners to consider this approach post November."

When asked why the administration services could not be retained inhouse, and thus avoid outsourcing to an external private company altogether, the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, Alfred Hitchcock, replied:

"A number of options are being considered on how we can deliver the best service to the people of Bedfordshire whilst meeting the 20% cut in Central Government Funding. We remain committed to fighting crime and protecting the public, and this work will enable the incoming Police and Crime Commissioner to make a decision which delivers the best possible service for the people of Bedfordshire."

'Back office' failures at G4S

The chairman of Hertfordshire Police UNISON, Steph Raddings, said:

"Among the departments Hertfordshire Constabulary is looking to outsource are HR, training, administration, procurement and logistics. This is despite G4S itself giving the best example of how severely 'front line' provision is impacted when 'back office' functions fail.

"We believe it is the failure in these functions that has led to G4S being unable to supply and maintain its 'front line' security guards. If these functions fail once police support services are outsourced to G4S, who will cover the thin blue line?"

by Marcus Williamson
Freelance Journalist
26 July 2012

[Please credit the author if you use this article as a source of information for your own writing or broadcasting]

Wednesday, 25 July 2012