I recall jests from a plethora of comic folk who pilloried the Tories administration of the 1990s for their excessive privatisation; and they came up with the new premium rate emergency number for when the Police, Ambulance and Fire Brigade got sold off to the friends of Tory re-election.
Nearly two decades on the Guardian informs that the Coalition government plan to privatise parts of police work: not just the ‘traditional’ back-room services of administration and human resources, but actual front-line duties.
It used to be said one could never make money from crime. It seems the present administration have cracked that conundrum. The money’s not to be made in the breaking of law, but enforcing it!
It’s worrying. The government have cut police budgets by 20% and the answer to this is to invite ‘tenders’ to undertake certain duties, such as… “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…” (The Guardian: http://bit.ly/zxirHN) They, the government and the Home Office minister, claim that the private sector can cover the sort fall in the budget. How?
But remember: this private sector is the same private sector that nearly had us all running for our savings a couple of years ago; the same public sector that is making more people redundant than the private sector; the same private sector that brought us Hatfield and Paddington rail disasters…
On that last point, I did a temp assignment at Serco Rail Maintenance in Bedford just after I graduated from university. There I was told this story: under the state-owned BR there was one person for every job… under the private sector regime there were at least two. For every one of my colleagues at Serco, Railtrack had its equivalent person doing exactly the same task. It has cost more to run the railways in the UK.
So this will save the tax-payer money? Maybe… maybe not… It’ll save the government money, that’s true… to a point. All that Government PLC will do is pay the tendered price (allegedly). The contractors will then make their profit from that… by doing the job as cheaply as possible.
Remember this adage: Good no cheap, cheap no good.
During the Levenson enquiry we’ve heard of well-paid officers receiving bungs from the media. Imagine under-paid staff with access to sensitive and confidential material…
This is why it worries me… The Police PLC (owned by multi-nationals with former Tory ministers on the executive) would be even more unaccountable, undemocratic… and, I fear, unobtainable…