Beds Police criticised for having single outsourcing plan

MEMBERS of Beds Police Authority criticised the force for only putting one outline business plan for outsourcing police services at a special meeting on Thursday morning.

Beds Police staff members and trade union UNISON protested outside the police headquarters before the meeting wearing t-shirts that read ‘stop police privatisation.’

In a report it had been recommended to members to agree that the option 5A in the outline business case is the preferred option to be developed for the delivery of organisational support services across collaborated forces Beds, Herts and Cambs.

It was recommended that Chief Constable Alf Hitchcock would then work with the supplier G4S to develop a full business case to be presented for the final decision by the Police and Crime Commissioner.

But during a lengthy debate members expressed concern that one option was on the table

Authority member and Bedford Borough Councillor Colleen Atkins said: “So we present a full business case for this option and then it is rejected, what happens then?”

Independent member Penny Fletcher said: “I’m not saying we should not look at outsourcing, I think we would be foolish not to, but lets benchmark it against something else. There is no plan b and that is very concerning.

“We should be looking at outsourcing, but we should be looking at another option as well, and we should be consulting with the public.”

Mr Hitchcock told members that he has had to “think with his head and ignore his heart” when it came to looking at the privatisation proposals.

He said: “I was philosophically against this when I started out. My starting point was this ‘this is not the way we want to go’, and I have challenged the collaboration team every step of the way.

“I have looked in great detail at the other options and I feel this really is the best one we have, or at least, the least worst. I have had t really think with my head and not my heart on this one.”

The Chief Constable will now go back and develop a full business plan with G4S and develop another option to out to the PCC.