UNISON and Unite say proposals risk putting entire criminal justice system in England and Wales in hands of private companies


The country’s two largest unions, UNISON and Unite are joining forces to fight plans to privatise the police.  

The unions are warning that the £1.5bn contact being advertised by West Midlands and Surrey Police to run police services is a dangerous experiment.

They believe the contracts could lead to the privatisation of crime investigation, forensics, 999 call-handling, custody and detention and a wide range of police support services.

The plans were being promoted at a bidder conference held in London today between the police and scores of private sector business representatives.

Other forces have signed an option to join the contract at a later stage, adding a potential further £2bn to the privatisation plan.

Unions estimate if all forces joined in the contract, it would place 25% of total police funding into private hands in England and Wales.

Ben Priestley, UNISON National Officer for Police Staff, said: “These privatisation proposals are truly frightening.  

“People in the West Midlands and Surrey have not had any say in these plans and yet their safety and confidence in the police will be severely jeopardised if this contract goes ahead. It is true that forces are struggling with a 20% cut in their budgets, but privatising policing is not the answer.

“It will only lead to more cuts, as private companies shed staff and close services to make their profit. Private companies are accountable only to shareholders, not local citizens.”

“There is a real danger that creeping privatisation under this government will see private companies running the whole of our justice system: from the police, to courts, to prisons and probation. Independence and impartiality will then really be at risk.

“If the West Midlands and Surrey proposals go through, the tried and trusted British model of policing will disappear overnight, maybe never to return.

“We want the pubic to know that this is happening now and now is the time to make their opposition heard.”

Peter Allenson, Unite National Organiser Services Sector, said: “Allowing private sector companies to profit from such an important service is deeply worrying.

“Not just to victims and witnesses of crime but for police staff who are vital to the front line.

“Privatisation has nothing to do with making our streets safer, it has everything to do with cutting costs and making money. The drive to privatisation almost always leads to the erosion of terms and conditions, attacks on pensions and jobs.

“We have genuine fears for what this means to the quality of policing. We need to build a coalition of resistance across our communities to stop the government from dismantling our police service.”

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