England

Union claims public unease over police privatisation

The public would be less likely to report a crime if a private firm was in charge of their personal data, a survey suggested.

The Unite union said the poll of more than 1,200 people in the West Midlands showed unease over a proposed £1.5bn police privatisation scheme.

The West Midlands and Surrey forces have delayed the process to bring private firms further into policing.

But West Midlands Police said the force remained "committed to the project".

'Breathing space'

The scheme was not aimed at outsourcing particular jobs or roles, but instead using firms' expertise, systems and technology to transform the way forces do things, the forces have said.

Three in five of more than 1,200 people questioned would be less likely to report a crime if their personal information was being accessed by a third party, the survey showed.

The same proportion also said they were not comfortable with private firms handling 999 calls, crime detection or investigations.

Peter Allenson, Unite's national officer, said: "West Midlands and Surrey police forces have realised that the public do not want privatisation but they have not dropped the plans altogether.

'Very dangerous'

"They are simply buying themselves breathing space but no length of time will convince people that profit and policing are a good fit."

He added that this was "a very dangerous move" which its survey showed "risks alienating the public from the police force that is meant to serve it".

The two forces delayed the process to bring private companies further into policing on Thursday "to allow engagement with the market, public consultation and to allow both forces to contribute to a safe and secure Olympics".

Surrey Chief Constable Lynne Owens said there was a need to pause for further consultation in the face of concern among officers and the public.

West Midlands Police insisted it remained "committed to exploring with the private sector the potential to transform policing and to improve services to the public".

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