West Midlands is one of two authorities considering £1.5bn sell-off of police work, from 999 calls to forensics (Pictured: police protest against budget cuts, privatisation. London, May 2012)

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Unite activists are protesting outside West Midlands police headquarters this morning as councillors meet to decide on the imminent sell-off of the regional police force.

(Pictured: police protest against budget cuts, privatisation. London, May 2012)

It is one of two police authorities in England which have advertised contracts worth £1.5bn for private companies to run services, under guidance from the Home Office.

Under the proposals services such as handling 999 calls, prisoner transportation, crime investigation and forensics would be carried out by private companies.

The plans were put on hold in May, but the union says a promise to provide a proper business case and conduct a proper and open consultation has failed to materialise.

It describes documents published last week containing the authority’s business case for the proposal as ‘woefully inadequate’.

Gerard Coyne, Unite regional secretary, said: “West Midland’s police chief constable, Chris Sims ought to be ashamed. Their so-called business case is a sham and the force’s failure to tell the public is a dereliction of duty. The people of the West Midlands deserve better.

“Unite says that selling off West Midlands police services to private companies is a crime. We will continue to campaign to get these shocking plans dropped.”

A poll commissioned by Unite found ‘deep unease’ over the privatisation plans.

It found:

•       63 per cent of those polled would not be comfortable with private companies running police services for profit.

•       60 per cent were not comfortable with private firms handling 999 calls.

•       63 per cent were not comfortable with private firms handling crime detection and investigation.

•       Only 18 per cent of respondents were comfortable with the privatisation of forensics.

•       Only 17 per cent of respondents were comfortable with private firms handling victims.

•       60 per cent of people were uncomfortable with private firms handling custody and detention.

Says Gerard Coyne: “The people of the West Midlands have not even been consulted, but it’s clear from our poll the majority oppose plans to sell-off the service.

“Privatisation has nothing to do with making our streets safer, it’s about putting profits before people – plain and simple.”

Police forces across England are facing budget cuts of up to 20% over the next four years.

More than 250 private companies expressed an interest in taking over police services in the West Midlands and Surrey at a bidding conference earlier this year.


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