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'Policing best left to police - not security firms,' says Cleveland Police's new commissioner
CLEVELAND Police could come under increasing pressure from private companies to provide more of its services as the force looks at ways of slashing its budget.
Security, technology and out-sourcing firms are set to test the resolve of the country's 41 newly-elected Police and Crime Commissioners, such as Cleveland's Barry Coppinger, with the boss of one saying "they will be all over the police like a rash".
In a meeting with the Home Secretary, Teresa May, last week, Mr Coppinger expressed concern about 20 per cent cuts to his force's overall budget by 2015 which he says threatens the loss of 270 officers.
However, speaking to The Northern Echo today (Sunday, December 9) he indicated that private companies looking to take on core policing duties would be resisted.
Cleveland Police, which sacked its Chief Constable Sean Price in October, already has a £175m deal with French firm Steria for support services including IT, finance and control room work and Mr Coppinger said, while such aspects would be reviewed in the coming weeks and months, he was not aware at this stage of any new approaches.
Bob Jones, the new commissioner for West Midlands Police, said he had turned down meetings with three private firms, despite scrapping a £1.5bn privatisation project with security firm G4S on his first day in office.
And Steria UK chief executive, John Torrie, told the Independent newspaper, said: "Some of the people in there at the present moment are new into this market and they see it as a potentially huge market."
However, Mr Coppinger reiterated his election statement that “core policing work is best dealt with by the police.”
He said: “We already have a contractual engagement and, of course, we will honour that, although we can review how it’s going.
“Our acting chief constable is putting the final touches to a review of force structures, but I’m not aware of any plans to outsource.
“At this stage, my key objectives are appointing a chief constable, the next budget, our police and crime plan and engaging with the public.”
In 2010, 500 IT, finance and control room jobs were outsourced to Steria and in August this year it was announced that 30 of the civilian workers would lose their jobs because Cleveland Police could no longer provide enough work for them.
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