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Privatisation of the Police

SystemSystem Posts: 8,629 Staff Team
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17242956

2 police forces are planning to allow private security firms to deliver frontline policing, including street patrol and responding to incidents, as well as managing major incidents.

2 words, oh dear.

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    1984 or clockwork orange. Take your pick...

    Can they legally do that?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    *slow claps the tory voters*
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Is desperately trying to resist the temptation that the private sector would struggle to do a worse job than the current set up in one of those forces.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    cutting police to make a s much benefit as possible to shareholders?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Is desperately trying to resist the temptation that the private sector would struggle to do a worse job than the current set up in one of those forces.

    Regardless of what you might think about the forces in question, if you ring up to report a robbery, or your property stolen who do you want investigating it? Who do you want to be responsible for patrolling your street? A security guard?
    Do we really think a security guard on minimum wage is going to put as much effort into investigating a crime as the cop would? And when they don't, who do you complain to?

    The whole plan is a truly bad idea
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Personally - I'd like to see the right people doing the right jobs. If I ring up to report property damage - quite frankly I'd be happy if anyone at all turned up to take a report.

    A security guard on minimum wage would more likely have clearly defined responsibilities and performance contract to deliver - so the bits they're contracted to do might actually get done.

    There are definite potential downsides - but the kneejerk outcry that it's going to be the end of the world seems a bit OTT.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    There are definite potential downsides

    Big ones.
    • At the moment the police (and every serving officer both admin or beat) are directly accountable to the Home Secretary - consequently parliament and "the people". Through this they will be responsible to a corporation first and foremost, and their shareholders. It's only the Board of that company which will be responsible, in any way, to the Home Secretary. That's a significant change in responsibility and accountability.
    • There will be a cost increase, there always is. Either because of the backroom cost of managing the contracts and providing the evidence of performance (or lack of) - it's this aspect which increased management levels in NHS BTW. Plus, of course, there is an additional shareholders dividend to cover.
    • Contracts. Some think that this means that performance will improve. In reality it usually means that it drops as everyone involved argues about whether or not their contract includes the specific task not being carried out. See Social Services/Health Services for examples of how this happens, and how people fall through the gaps.

    Now, I'm not saying it's the end of the world. I am saying that it's a big mistake. I'm also going to point out that this isn't about improving services but rather a politicial and economic ideology about the role of "the state" and "private sector". Take a look around, how much of state provision is now being given away to companies? It's what the Health Bill is specifically designed to do, for example.

    We've seen it before - water, gas, electricity, tele-communications. Are they *really* better services now, or are they actually providing a huge income to an elite?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Big ones.
    • At the moment the police (and every serving officer both admin or beat) are directly accountable to the Home Secretary - consequently parliament and "the people". Through this they will be responsible to a corporation first and foremost, and their shareholders. It's only the Board of that company which will be responsible, in any way, to the Home Secretary. That's a significant change in responsibility and accountability.
    • There will be a cost increase, there always is. Either because of the backroom cost of managing the contracts and providing the evidence of performance (or lack of) - it's this aspect which increased management levels in NHS BTW. Plus, of course, there is an additional shareholders dividend to cover.
    • Contracts. Some think that this means that performance will improve. In reality it usually means that it drops as everyone involved argues about whether or not their contract includes the specific task not being carried out. See Social Services/Health Services for examples of how this happens, and how people fall through the gaps.

    Now, I'm not saying it's the end of the world. I am saying that it's a big mistake. I'm also going to point out that this isn't about improving services but rather a politicial and economic ideology about the role of "the state" and "private sector". Take a look around, how much of state provision is now being given away to companies? It's what the Health Bill is specifically designed to do, for example.

    We've seen it before - water, gas, electricity, tele-communications. Are they *really* better services now, or are they actually providing a huge income to an elite?

    2nd this. I hope the police up here remains professional enough to keep their status quo policy about not involving private contractors in pure police work.

    And what about making arrests or enforcing laws that can only be (lawfully) done by policemen? Here, it would require a complete revision of current laws for private companies to be able to make arrests, even if they were to do so on behalf of the government.

    I'd also question the competence of security guards versus the skills obtained by real policemen. Here, you'll have to go through a three year education in order to become and officer, including compulsory practice during the same three year period compared to a short course to become a security guard. I'd never trust a simple security guard to do to even close as good job as a skilled officer. Not that I think being a security guard is not an important job as well, but they are simply NOT police officers and never should be.

    At last security guards would also face the problem of credibility.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Lol very good pic!
    In terms of legality, the police reform act didn't just create PCSOs, it also provides for accredited persons (street wardens usually), investigators and detention officers who work in custody. In some cases giving certain people police powers is a good thing, until now the vast majority have been to people either employed by the police (investigators and detention officers) or councils in the case of wardens and licensing officers. Despite any feelings you have about the role, all those staff are employed by a public body and are completely accountable for their actions. Private staff aren't accountable to anyone, if someone fucks up there will be sweet fa you can do about it.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Does anyone else not find the rhetoric and polemic concerning Tory policy rather fucking dull? It just seems to be one lazy caricature after another. Every announcement has all-too-interested parties having us slide back into a dystopian Thatcherite nightmare where the poll tax is busy rolling its stone back.

    I mean, I'm no Tory, and I think they're often sadly misguided, but I'd rather discuss the topic on it's own merits than have to listen to nonsense like "lack of accountability" under private policing, as if our current police force is a paragon of transparency and accountability.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Whowhere wrote: »
    Do we really think a security guard on minimum wage is going to put as much effort into investigating a crime as the cop would?

    are you saying the efficacy is related to pay? so much for hobby-bobbies then....
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Big ones.

    [*]At the moment the police (and every serving officer both admin or beat) are directly accountable to the Home Secretary - consequently parliament and "the people". Through this they will be responsible to a corporation first and foremost, and their shareholders. It's only the Board of that company which will be responsible, in any way, to the Home Secretary. That's a significant change in responsibility and accountability.

    As I understand it they're directly responsible to the local police authority, and with elected police commissioners police accountability will be beefed up. Under this everyone is still democratically accountable, just in some cases by slightly different routes (and bear in mind I've seen no suggestion that the office of constable is going to be changed - so they'll have the people employed by the company will have the same powers as any other citizen or at most the powers of a PCSO).
    [*]There will be a cost increase, there always is. Either because of the backroom cost of managing the contracts and providing the evidence of performance (or lack of) - it's this aspect which increased management levels in NHS BTW. Plus, of course, there is an additional shareholders dividend to cover.

    I don;t see why. The argument is that you can replace the expensive constable in certain rolls, such as taking statements, with a cheaper alternative - who doesn't have the same powers or the same wide-training (but will have training adequate for their rolls) and even with the cost of managing contracts and profit margins will still provide better value for money.


    [*]Contracts. Some think that this means that performance will improve. In reality it usually means that it drops as everyone involved argues about whether or not their contract includes the specific task not being carried out. See Social Services/Health Services for examples of how this happens, and how people fall through the gaps.

    To an extent I agree. The inabilty to get contracts right continually surprises me. Or put it another way I was talking to my sister who has just let a contract from her company to a council, where she cheerfully admits they fleeced them compared to a contract she's just let with a major blue-chip company because the LA officers, whilst bright, had no commercial experience and had the rings round them.

    Personally I think the most important issue facing the public sector is to create a management structure with the skills needed in the 21st century - and if I have a criticism of the Government's reforms is that they're wasting energy on some pretty little things rather than looking at more fundamental reforms
    Now, I'm not saying it's the end of the world. I am saying that it's a big mistake. I'm also going to point out that this isn't about improving services but rather a politicial and economic ideology about the role of "the state" and "private sector". Take a look around, how much of state provision is now being given away to companies? It's what the Health Bill is specifically designed to do, for example.

    Its as ideological as the belief that in a big state and that state should employ lots of people directly even if that's not the best way. Personally I think reducng the power of the state and the amount it takes from us is a good thing, you obviously have an ideology which differs from that.
    We've seen it before - water, gas, electricity, tele-communications. Are they *really* better services now, or are they actually providing a huge income to an elite?

    You were around in the 70s and 80s when you had to wait months for a new phone, when over 50% of water was lost to leakage and gas and electricity was amongst the most expensive in Europe and we were plagued by blackouts (of course it could be heading back the same way because the companies are being forced by regulations to take on more expensive energy sources, such as wind, and because our planning system is not fit for purpose.

    Now some of the ideas will not provide better value for the taxpayer, but some will. The trick is not retreating into seventies orthodoxy around the purity of the state, but looking at what works and what doesn't.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    As I understand it they're directly responsible to the local police authority, and with elected police commissioners police accountability will be beefed up. Under this everyone is still democratically accountable, just in some cases by slightly different routes

    Those different routes are what this is about though, isn't it? When you put a corporate board in between the electorate and the accountable then you change the relationship completely.
    I don;t see why. The argument is that you can replace the expensive constable in certain rolls, such as taking statements, with a cheaper alternative - who doesn't have the same powers or the same wide-training (but will have training adequate for their rolls) and even with the cost of managing contracts and profit margins will still provide better value for money.

    Arguable. You can replace the "expensive" constable under the current system, it doesn't take a private company to do that. But where some see "expensive" constable, I see professional, trained to do a specific role being replace by "cheaper" alternative with less skills and knowledge. We see this in NHS already with more Consultant and Doctor roles being carried out by nurses and allied health professionals. I'd say it's questionable whether quality has been enhanced, but I'm certain that cost of employment has reduced.
    To an extent I agree. The inabilty to get contracts right continually surprises me. Or put it another way I was talking to my sister who has just let a contract from her company to a council, where she cheerfully admits they fleeced them compared to a contract she's just let with a major blue-chip company because the LA officers, whilst bright, had no commercial experience and had the rings round them.

    And this, to an extent, is the rub. There is no morality involved in this kind of transaction, which is something which the state can offer (whether it does or not is another debate). When your first obligation is profit for your shareholders then everything else takes second place - quality, safety...
    Personally I think the most important issue facing the public sector is to create a management structure with the skills needed in the 21st century - and if I have a criticism of the Government's reforms is that they're wasting energy on some pretty little things rather than looking at more fundamental reforms

    This is where we agree - although I suspect from a slightly different angle. It's the skills of private sector which are required, the understanding and knowledge. I don't think it's the profit motive but the efficiencies which those skills bring. There is also the issue of the red tape which state sector has applied which private sector doesn't.

    Again the evidence I see is in how hospitals and health establishments are treated differently - the requirements to be publically accountable, MRSA reporting mechanisms (for example), financial constraints (we must balance annually, cannot make loss in Yr1 even if evidence of massive saving in Yr2 will occur)... there are many other examples. Treat state like a company and it will behave like one.
    Its as ideological as the belief that in a big state and that state should employ lots of people directly even if that's not the best way. Personally I think reducng the power of the state and the amount it takes from us is a good thing, you obviously have an ideology which differs from that.

    I think that there is a line not to be crossed. Health, Law Enforcement and Defence are three of them. In those cases the majority need should outweight profit motive. Although I hate the phrase "for the greater good", it does apply here.
    You were around in the 70s and 80s when you had to wait months for a new phone, when over 50% of water was lost to leakage and gas and electricity was amongst the most expensive in Europe and we were plagued by blackouts (of course it could be heading back the same way because the companies are being forced by regulations to take on more expensive energy sources, such as wind, and because our planning system is not fit for purpose.

    Now some of the ideas will not provide better value for the taxpayer, but some will. The trick is not retreating into seventies orthodoxy around the purity of the state, but looking at what works and what doesn't.

    Agree that the 70s should not be replicated and I'm not advocating a return to nationalisation. The key in each case is political interference as much as private skills. Worth remembering that most of those companies still recieve huge subsidies and yet declare massive profits. Massive. Who benefits from that?

    Then look at each company and ask what happens now when something goes wrong...
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Those different routes are what this is about though, isn't it? When you put a corporate board in between the electorate and the accountable then you change the relationship completely.

    I'm not sure how. They've still got to work within the law, any half-decent contract (and surely we can manage half-decent) will have performance targets and rules around contact with the public and the Chief Constable/democratic politicians will still be accountable for policy. There are some issues, but I think you're overdoing them


    Arguable. You can replace the "expensive" constable under the current system, it doesn't take a private company to do that. But where some see "expensive" constable, I see professional, trained to do a specific role being replace by "cheaper" alternative with less skills and knowledge. We see this in NHS already with more Consultant and Doctor roles being carried out by nurses and allied health professionals. I'd say it's questionable whether quality has been enhanced, but I'm certain that cost of employment has reduced.

    Its using the professional where he's best used. I don;t know what a constable's training includes but I am assuming that it includes things like law, physical fitness, arrest procedures and I'd rather he was using these skills in the most effective way, rather than for example typing up written notes which a trained typist could do at half the time and half the cost. In medical terms I'd rather a highly trained and expensive consultant is doing heart surgery rather than giving stitches to someone who's cut their hand on a chunk of glass - even if he'd be better a giving the stitches than the nurse its wasting his time and expertise (and I'll accept some reduction in the quality of the stitches...)

    You also say the cost of employment has reduced as if that's a bad thing. It isn't. If you reduce costs you can either use the money for something else (that spiffy new piece of kit your head surgeon is salivating over), reduce the amout the Govt has to borrow (your children will thank you) or reduce taxation (depending on which one is cut boosting the economy and meaning there's more in the future).

    And this, to an extent, is the rub. There is no morality involved in this kind of transaction, which is something which the state can offer (whether it does or not is another debate). When your first obligation is profit for your shareholders then everything else takes second place - quality, safety...

    The state offers no more morality than private companies, only individuals can do that and the state is as full of vested interests and self-seeking time servers as the private is off people lookig at the bottom line only. However, given that BUPA obviously provides quality for its patients (they wouldn't keep paying if it didn't) and its now generally considered that private airlines have a better safety record than state (if only because if your aircraft keep falling out of the sky people won't fly with you and people keeping sueing you) I wouldn't assume that the public sector produces quality and safety and the private doesn't (though I'd accept that there does need to be a state role in laying down H&S regulations)

    This is where we agree - although I suspect from a slightly different angle. It's the skills of private sector which are required, the understanding and knowledge. I don't think it's the profit motive but the efficiencies which those skills bring. There is also the issue of the red tape which state sector has applied which private sector doesn't.

    I wouldn't disagree
    Again the evidence I see is in how hospitals and health establishments are treated differently - the requirements to be publically accountable, MRSA reporting mechanisms (for example), financial constraints (we must balance annually, cannot make loss in Yr1 even if evidence of massive saving in Yr2 will occur)... there are many other examples. Treat state like a company and it will behave like one.

    If you're on the stock exchange you have to be publically accountable, but If you are saying that the constraints of Government tie are hand I'd agree to an extent, but the state also makes it worse (as a very young civil servant I can remember being horrified by the fact that even though we'd met our objectives for the year and were under budget we still had to spend our budget - in a not very cost effective way - or loose money for next year.

    I think that there is a line not to be crossed. Health, Law Enforcement and Defence are three of them. In those cases the majority need should outweight profit motive. Although I hate the phrase "for the greater good", it does apply here.

    On health - I don;t see why. I want health to be free at point of delivery (ie funded by tax or compulosry insurance), but I don't care how it is delivered. If the most effective way is to give it all to private providers that's fine, if the most effective way is to have everything done by state employess that's also fine. In reality I suspect that the most effective way is a mixture.

    On defence - the people who close with the enemy (or may do) should be employees of the state (God, how I hate the term employees for soldiers and sailors, though it may well describe the RAF) but NAAFI has never been part of the state (its a co-operative), we've handed basic flight-training out sometime in the 80/90s

    On law enforcement - again I'd want those who hold the office of constable to be employees of the state. But for complex frauds I might expect them to look to hire people from Ernst and Young to provide technical expertise and support, I can't see why there shouldn;t be a competitive market for forensics etc

    I think your term for the greater good is wrong, my argument is that by opening to private (and I am generalising) there is a better service to users and taxpayers and that the only loosers are state providers - I am arguing for the greater good (though I agree its not a great term), whilst to me (and I accept that I am simplifying and probably twisting your argument) you are arguing for the exact opposite (or the good of the police, health professionals, civil servants)
    Agree that the 70s should not be replicated and I'm not advocating a return to nationalisation. The key in each case is political interference as much as private skills. Worth remembering that most of those companies still recieve huge subsidies and yet declare massive profits. Massive. Who benefits from that?

    As far as I am aware the only one who recieves subsidies is the various transport (rail and bus), which really aren't so much privatisations as long term rental agreements.
    Then look at each company and ask what happens now when something goes wrong

    Well in Railtracks case the Govt took back control and paid the shareholders a pittance. I assume in BPs case they'll have to make good the damages from their own resources (and the shareholders will get reduced dividends). I'd hope that in the case that the costs are too much for BP to bear that this Government doesn't succumb to lure of corporatism, recognises moral hazard and lets them go bust, which is what the last Govt should have done for the banks.
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