Potential candidates vying for the chance to become the first Police and Crime Commissioner for West Midlands Police could scrap expensive plans for business partnerships with the private sector, they have warned.
Candidates said they would review the proposals, launch a public consultation or simply end the scheme.
The force expects to spend around £1.5 million on its controversial proposals for a business partnership, which opponents have described as “privatisation”, simply to find private sector partners and sign contracts.
Funding of up to £2 million will come from the Home Office while Surrey Police, which is working with West Midlands Police on the project, is to spend up to £1 million.
The contracts themselves could be worth up to £1.5 billion.
But Chris Sims, the chief constable of West Midlands Police, has conceded that any deal would need to be signed off by the police and crime commissioner, to be elected in November.
Solihull councillor Joe Tildesley, who hopes to become the Conservative candidate for the commissioner post, said he objected to privatisation, and didn’t see the sense in doing a deal with Surrey Police instead of neighbouring forces such as Warwickshire, Staffordshire and West Mercia.
He said: “I would not continue with the policy, which at the moment is about some sort of tie-up with Surrey.
“I have no problems at all with us forming relationships with Warwickshire, Staffordshire or West Mercia.
“And there are always ways that we can work leaner, faster and more efficiently.
“But there is no way we are entering into a relationship with the Surrey police force.
“No to the relationship with Surrey Police and no to privatisation, but of course we must enter into relationships with neighbouring forces.”
Labour councillor Yvonne Mosquito, who hopes to become the Labour candidate, said: “From the beginning I have expressed concerns about the business partnership plans.
“My concern is that the private sector by its nature is driven by making money. There will be a conflict between that and the role of the police. If I became police commissioner there would have to be a review of this and the police would have to present a business case.”
Coun Mosquito said she did believe partnership would be appropriate in providing IT services to the police.
Wolverhampton councillor Bob Jones, who is also on the shortlist to be Labour’s West Midlands candidate, has vowed to scrap the plan.
He said: “I would abandon the plans on a number of grounds. There is no evidence that we are going to get better value from this privatisation than from all the ones we have already.
“I accept that what is proposed is not crude outsourcing but it is a joint venture and most of the joint ventures I have seen are managed by the private sector.”
Barrister Ayoub Khan, who hopes to be the Liberal Democrat candidate, said: “Front-line police are my main priority. I’ve spoken to front-line officers about the proposals and their response is very negative.’’