Concern at outsourcing of Herts police support services

PLANS to outsource some police support services to a private firm to help plug a �73 million funding shortfall have been branded as “a step too far” by a union this week.

Herts, Beds and Cambs police forces have recently revealed joint plans to outsource a number of areas of work, including HR, finance and ICT, to private firm G4S.

But the proposals have been met with grave concern by members of Unison’s Herts Police branch. They argue that the Lincolnshire Police model, on which the plans are based, is still in its infancy, with the G4S contract only going live in April 2012. Therefore it could not yet be shown whether the forecast savings were actually being made.

Chairman Steph Raddings said branch officials were worried about the impact privatising police services would have on the local community.

She said: “We are extremely concerned that the communities of Hertfordshire have not been consulted and are unaware of the implications of this potential privatisation on Hertfordshire Constabulary services.”

Herts Police Unison backed proposals for a merger of departments with Beds and Cambs in 2010, as part of money saving measures following government budget cuts.

Ms Raddings continued: “We are aware that further work is needed to reach the levels needed – however feel that outsourcing is a step too far, too quickly.”

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Unison also claim that the level of commitment shown by police service staff is being underestimated by the proposals.

Ms Raddings said: “Being outsourced will be the final insult to police staff who have given years of committed service to the constabulary and the wider community.”

It was agreed at a meeting of the Police Authorities Joint Collaboration Working Group last Wednesday that each of the three Police Authorities would be asked to consider the proposals later this month.

If agreed by all, outsourced services could be in place by April 2013.

A letter outlining the plans was also sent out to members of the Neighbourhood Watch last week to gauge their thoughts.

Local member Suzi Clark, from Park Street, said that there might be proof of a successful precedent with other police forces such as Lincolnshire but continued: “If, however, this is not the case, I do not feel that the principle of cost saving alone can justify endangering the integrity of the police forces of these three authorities, particularly at a time when the world seems increasingly to be a more dangerous place for the vulnerable, the home-owner and the law-abiding.”

Herts Police have declined to comment at this stage.