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Partnership call

The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) – the UK private security trade body – has called for more partnership work between the police and the private security industry. This comes during the 2015 general election campaign, in response to Labour’s pledge to guarantee neighbourhood policing in every area.

The private sector has a significant role to play in assisting police forces across the UK as they are tasked with making efficiency savings over the next few years. Police forces across the country have been put under unprecedented financial pressure as public spending has been reigned in, meaning forces have had to seek alternative service delivery methods, often outsourcing back-office and support services to private security providers. In December, the Home Office confirmed police forces in England and Wales would have their central government funding cut by almost 5% for 2015-16 – a cash reduction of £299m compared with 2014-15, meaning that financial pressure on forces across the UK looks set to continue.

Areas in which the BSIA points to the private security industry helping include managing cordons, area searches, managing custody suites and transportation of offenders. Security providers are also experienced in providing contingency support to police during times of crisis and natural disaster.

James Kelly, Chief Executive of the BSIA, says: “Returning warranted officers to front-line duty is a core benefit of outsourcing back-office and support functions to private security personnel. Whichever political party or coalition comes to power in May will face the challenge of delivering high standards of policing against continued economic pressures. As such, liaison with the private security industry will be the key to any reforms proposed by a new Government.

“Reducing the number of police officers doesn’t necessarily increase the risk of crime as there is a sizeable and capable private security industry that already supports the UK police in delivering significant cost and efficiency savings to police forces across the country, enabling better allocation of resources and more expenditure on vital frontline areas.”

According to a report published by consultancy Perpetuity (the Opportunities and Barriers to Partnership Working Between the Police & Private Sector), such partnerships could save the taxpayer up to £1 billion, which would make a further contribution towards easing the pressure on forces to cut front line resources. Visit http://www.bsia.co.uk/sections/police-and-public-services.aspx.

Labour in detail

In its Crime and Justice Manifesto Labour said it will commit to keeping police on the beat – legislating to introduce a new ‘Local Policing Commitment’, which makes sure police forces guarantee neighbourhood policing in every area.

Labour said that it will set out £800m of efficiency savings a year by year three of the next parliament, as part of its Zero-Based-Review of spending.

Launching that manifesto, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband said: “Communities only flourish when people feel safe and secure, living lives free from fear and intimidation. This means having police on the streets, a criminal justice system that works for victims not criminals and action to prevent crime before it occurs. But I know from talking to people in every corner of Britain that that’s not happening. Because of the Conservatives’ decisions, neighbourhood policing – the foundation of good British policing – is at risk of disappearing, whilst increasing numbers of serious criminals are being let off the hook. Labour has a better plan. We will make different choices, finding savings to safeguard 10,000 officers in the next three years. We will ensure victims are at the heart of the criminal justice system with the country’s first ever Victims’ Law. And we will ensure the police have the powers they need to keep us safe, including proper controls for dangerous terror suspects.

“Everyone in Britain has a right to feel safe and secure. I am committed to ensuring a Labour Government makes that a reality.”

Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper said: “Neighbourhood policing is far too important to let the Tories destroy it. That’s why Labour is setting out a better plan – including abolishing police and crime commissioners and putting savings back into the frontline so we can keep police on the beat. Under the Tories we’ve seen fewer police on the beat, longer waits for 999 calls and less justice for victims as there have been fewer arrests and prosecutions for rising crimes like violence, rape or child sex offences.

“Now they plan deeper cuts to policing in the next Parliament even though the police are already struggling to keep up with rising complex cases such as child sexual exploitation, terrorism or online crime.

“The independent police inspectorate has warned that neighbourhood policing is already being undermined. Now senior police officers across the country are warning that neighbourhood policing will be lost altogether if the Tories’ extreme plans are carried out.

“Police officers and PCSOs work with communities to tackle everything from anti-social behaviour to extremism. That relationship between police and communities is the crucial building block of British policing by consent – it prevents crime, catches criminals, protects victims, builds trust and community cohesion around the rule of law.

“That’s why Labour is determined to protect neighbourhood policing and we are setting out a plan to do it. We will scrap expensive Police and Crime Commissioners, end the police subsidy of gun licenses and introduce a new requirement for joint procurement and shared services to raise £800million in the first three years which Chief Constables will be able to use to protect over 10,000 police officers as well as PCSOs. These are savings the Tories cannot – and will not – make. And we will require police forces to set out their commitment to neighbourhood policing in every area – with local communities and district councils able to set local priorities and hold them to account.”

And Shadow Justice Secretary, Sadiq Khan said: Our criminal justice system relies on victims and witnesses having the confidence that when they report crimes, their case will be dealt with thoroughly and fairly. Communities also need to be confident that those committing crimes are caught, prosecuted, convicted, punished and put back on the right track. This confidence is fragile, and we can’t take it for granted.

“But too many victims and witnesses are ignored or treated as an afterthought. Public safety is being put at risk by a prisons and probation system that is in chaos because of this government’s policies. Violence and suicides are all too commonplace in our jails, with inmates idling in their cells instead of being rehabilitated through work, education or training .

“Labour will restore confidence in our justice system by putting victims first. We will enact the country’s first ever Victims’ Law – giving victims a voice and entitlements to minimum standards of service. And we will turn prisons into places of hard work and learning, cutting re-offending so that communities are spared the blight of crime.”


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