Plans to pay private firms £1.5 billion to carry out police work such as patrolling the streets and investigating crimes should be put on ice until a new police commissioner has been elected, an MP has insisted.
West Midlands Police and Surrey Police plan to meet businesses interested in taking over responsibility for key aspects of policing at a conference for bidders on March 14.
It means the new police commissioner, who will be elected on November 15, could be expected to rubber stamp a deal with has already been agreed between the forces and the private sector.
MP John Spellar (Lab Warley) said: “It would be absurd for contracts to be let by the Home Office and the Chief Constable before the November elections. The public must decide and so this process should be put on ice until then.”
Plans to outsource key services to the private sector have proved highly controversial and critics have attacked plans to “privatise” policing.
A briefing note sent to potential bidders lists the services they could be expected to provide, including investigating crimes, detaining suspects, managing major incidents, patrolling neighbourhoods and disrupting criminal networks.
Business could also be asked to “manage high risk individuals”, which suggests the private sector could be charged with monitoring sex offenders and people with a history of violence.
West Midlands Police has issued a statement insisting “not all the activities listed” would be included in the contract. It has not specified which services will be outsourced.
But one candidate hoping to stand for the post of Police Commissioner has threatened to sabotage the scheme.
Former Birmingham councillor Mike Olley, who hopes to become Labour’s candidate, said he would refuse to agree to any deal without a detailed public consultation.
He said: “I don’t recall any debate in parliament on police privatisation. This current outburst is a direct assault on our democratic values.
“My position is clear; the safety of families in the West Midlands is too important to be sacrificed to a profit and loss account without first consulting the people who pay for the service.”