Fears build over Beds Police outsourcing to G4S

A UNION says it is “even more concerned” than before at proposals for private firm G4S to take over police work in Bedfordshire, following the Olympics security debacle.

Last month, it was agreed that plans for G4S to take over a number of Bedfordshire Police ‘back office’ functions should proceed to the next stage, prior to revelations about the company’s inability to supply security staff it had been contracted to provide for the Olympics.

In collaboration with forces in Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire wants to outsource ‘support’ services, which include IT, HR and finance and a number of other civilian departments, in order to cut costs.

Police authority members said the option should proceed to the development of a business case, but said they also wanted the force to develop a second, alternative option.

The proposals would mean the loss of 248 members of staff from Bedfordshire Police, which currently spends £18 million a year on support services.

Speaking yesterday, Sarah Crow, secretary of the Beds Police staff branch of Unison, said the union was still campaigning against the plans despite the decision to proceed to the business case.

“We need to get the message out to the public as well as members of the police authority, local politicians and MPs,” she said.

“It doesn’t sit well with us that a profit-making company is going to come and run a public service. Public services don’t run for profit.”

The services would transfer to G4S under the same terms as the firm’s partnership with Lincolnshire Police, under which 500 staff transferred to G4S earlier this year.

A spokesman for Hertfordshire Police said: ”The three police authorities for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire have commissioned a full business case which will examine in detail the proposal to outsource our organisational support functions via the Lincolnshire Police contract, with G4S as the supplier.

“As the work to develop a full business case and apply ‘due diligence’ continues, the ability and capacity of G4S to deliver the range of services under consideration across the three forces will naturally be carefully scrutinised.

“No decision has been made to go with G4S at this stage. This will be a decision for the forces’ respective police authorities or police and crime commissioners.”