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Citizens fighting £1.5 billion police privatisation highlight security companies’ human rights violations

As G4S and Serco, both accused of human rights abuses, bid for a contract tendered by two English police authorities, protestors rally to pressure the West Midlands Police Authority to reject the bids on grounds of 'grave misconduct'.

Today’s West Midlands Police Authority meeting will consider a report, Business Partnering for Police Strategic Business, 'authored' by Deputy Chief Constable Dave Thompson and West Midlands Police Authority chief executive Jacky Courtney, but drafted by Gary Bandy and Alex Khaldi of Impower Consulting. The document, beyond parody and worth reading in full, gives some insight into the quality of critical thinking behind the police privatisation goldrush: "Partnering is about bringing new things to policing not taking them away. We want new skills and an innovative outlook and we also want to build on core strengths such as our values, know-how, reputation and brand . . .Partnering is not about anyone else delivering core policing services like patrolling, responding to calls for help, investigating crime and managing dangerous offenders. [not true; see here] . . .Partnering is not privatisation." 

West Midlands Police Authority, gathering today in Birmingham to consider radical privatisation plans (they call it Business Partnering for Police or BPP) will encounter protests and citizens arguing that some of the companies bidding for the contract should be disqualified on account of their human rights violations.

A group calling itself “West Midlands Against Policing for Profit” has written to Police Authority chair Bishop Derek Webley (he is a Bishop of the New Testament Church of God) pointing out that according to The Public Contracts Regulations 2006, bidders who have committed “grave misconduct” ought to be disqualified from the £1.5 billion West Midlands and Surrey police procurement process.

The citizens point to Mr Justice Foskett’s findings in a High Court Judgement earlier this year that large numbers of children were unlawfully restrained over years in child jails run by G4S and Serco. And they remind the authority that G4S was successfully prosecuted by the Australian Department of Commerce last year for failings that led to the horrible demise of Aboriginal leader Mr Ward — cooked to death in the back of a badly maintained van.

The group cites these and other examples of “grave misconduct”, urging the Police Authority to “exclude all bidders which have been complicit in acts of grave professional misconduct from the bidding process”.

But Police Authority members may have more pressing concerns. A report on the "Programme Schedule" from the Chief Executive and the Chief Constable, drafted with help from privatisation consultancy Impower, reminds members that “Critical to the overall success of a potential partnership is the ability to maintain bidder confidence. . . .Creating uncertainties in the timeline potentially damages the Authority and Force’s reputations, credibility and increases uncertainty for the bidders and increases their costs.”

 

About the author

Clare Sambrook, novelist and journalist, founded and co-edits Shine a Light, an investigative project that publishes first at openDemocracy. Clare is a co-founder of End Child Detention Now. Winner Paul Foot Award and Bevins Prize for outstanding investigative journalism 2010. Orwell Prize nominee 2013 & 2015.


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