We’ve been thinking for a while just what to say about the Lincoln Police outsourcing of a range of activities to G4S. The activities involved include not just the sort of areas where G4S have experience, such as custody services, but also back office areas such as Finance and Procurement. I’m not clear whether that’s a definite decision to outsource those functions, or whether they’ve just run the procurement process in a manner that will enable them to give G4S that work if they want to.
Anyway, a new contract opportunity has just been advertised that makes Lincolnshire look like small beer indeed. Surrey and the East Midlands Police have launched a £1.5 billion procurement for a private sector “Partner” – as the Guardian reports:
The list of policing activities up for grabs includes investigating crimes, detaining suspects, developing cases, responding to and investigating incidents, supporting victims and witnesses, managing high-risk individuals, patrolling neighbourhoods, managing intelligence, managing engagement with the public, as well as more traditional back-office functions, such as managing forensics, providing legal services, managing the vehicle fleet, finance and human resources.
There’s been a lot of media and public reaction– what is interesting is that even in the right-wing press, reader comment has been overwhelmingly negative. (Just look at the “best rated” comments on the Mail website). And to declare a personal interest - I live in Surrey. From what I can glean from the Police Authority minutes, the decision to proceed with the process was far from unanimous, not surprising given the potential implications of this.
I also wonder which way Amanda Mills, a fairly new Police Authority member, voted? She worked for Cap Gemini for over ten years, so must have some informed views on outsourcing (I think she has recently left Cap looking at her LinkedIn page, but I’m sure the Chair would have checked for any conflicts of interest amongst his members before the discussion...)
So, what do you think about this? Innovative and ground breaking? Or desperate and ill-judged?
We’ll have more on this – a lot more on this – and we’ll give you our initial views on Wednesday.