UNISON welcomes decision to scrap privatisation plan for West Midlands Police
- Published on Monday, 26 November 2012 10:57
- Posted by Vicki Mitchem
The first police and crime commissioner (PCC) for West Midlands Police, Bob Jones, has announced that he is to scrap a controversial business partnering programme with immediate effect.
The programme would have seen contracts worth £1.5bn awarded to the private sector.
UNISON opposed the process from the outset and raised concerns that the contracts could have included frontline responsibilities such as patrolling neighbourhoods, investigating crimes, managing high-risk individuals and even managing major incidents.
In a press conference on his first day in office, Mr Jones said: "The chief constable and I do share a vision for a force which will see technology deliver innovation, new ways of working and which we hope will result in a radical improvement to the services delivered to those who live and work in the West Midlands."
Work will now be taken forward by a "task force" that will consider all options and provide a report in January 2013. The task force will undertake this work knowing that the PCC wants to see core policing services remain within the police service.
Mr Jones made it clear that officers exercising police powers and the staff who support them must remain under the direct control of, and be accountable to the chief constable and to the community.
He also announced that contracts with the organisations providing consultancy services for the project will be terminated.
UNISON branch chair and 999 operator Rick Gamble said: "Privatisation of policing would remove accountability and I am not totally convinced that public safety would always take priority over shareholder profit."
After 'first preference' votes were counted, Mr Jones, a Labour member of Wolverhampton council, held a clear majority with 100,130 votes, compared to runner-up Matt Bennett (Conservative) with 44,130 votes.