Opinion Former Article

BSIA: Police commissioners must consider private sector outsourcing to achieve election pledges

Newly-elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) must work together with the private security industry in order to achieve their pre-election pledges, say members of the British Security Industry Association’s dedicated Police and Public Services Section.

With the first ever elections for PCCs taking place today, the BSIA – the trade body representing over 70% of the UK’s private security industry – is calling for increased partnership working between the Police and the private sector, citing improved efficiency, reduced costs and the return of warranted officers to front-line duty as the key benefits of a joined-up approach.

“Police reform simply cannot be delivered without the support of the private security industry,” said Robbie Calder, Chairman of the BSIA’s Police and Public Services section, which consists of member companies that specialise in police support roles. “Many of the election pledges made by PCC candidates would be difficult to achieve without outsourcing at least some support functions to the private sector.”

Intelligent procurement is one way for PCCs to deliver cost savings, which forms a key element of their role in light of the Government’s 2010 announcement of cuts to the police budget of up to 20%. According to a report published by research consultancy, Perpetuity, outsourcing to the private security industry could save as much as £1 billion.

This potential for savings has been particularly apparent in Lincolnshire, where working alongside a BSIA member company has not only saved police as much as £28 million, but an eight-week trial of a ‘street-to-suite’ scheme, whereby individuals placed under arrest by warranted officers are transported back to custody ?suites and booked in by private security personnel, also saved an estimated 350 hours in frontline police officers’ time.

In fact, there are many police support roles that simply do not require a warranted police officer, according to BSIA PPS section chairman, Robbie Calder: “At present, our police officers perform far too many tasks that don't necessarily require the presence of a warranted officer, for example, managing cordons, area searches and taking witness statements. The introduction of a new era of regulation in the private security industry, including company registration, will hopefully serve to increase police confidence in working alongside our industry.

“This year, with the introduction of elected police commissioners and the economic implications of partnership working, there has never been a better opportunity to make a positive change and explore this issue further.”

Meeting with a number of PCC candidates at the Conservative Party Conference last month, BSIA Chief Executive, James Kelly, was keen to promote the significant benefits that increased partnership working can bring.

“It’s not about creating a privatised police force, as many opponents of partnership working would have us believe,” says James. “In contrast, this is a case of private industry taking on support functions to aid the Police in delivering the Government’s programme of reform.

“The security industry already contributes significantly to assisting the police and emergency services if called upon to do so, and the BSIA will continue to engage with PCCs and Parliamentarians through its dedicated public affairs programme, to ensure that political thinking remains open to this diverse and innovative approach.”

To find out more about the BSIA and its Police and Public Services section, visit www.bsia.co.uk/police-and-public-services

Editors Notes

The British Security Industry Association is the trade association covering all aspects of the professional security industry in the UK. Its members provide over 70% of UK security products and services and adhere to strict quality standards. For more information see www.bsia.co.uk, email info@bsia.co.uk or telephone 0845 389 3889.

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