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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Join police to make life better, not for profits

A man with the big golden ‘M’ stitched onto his cap saying: “Scuse me sir, would you mind blowing into this Guinness-sponsored breathalyser please?”

A smartly-dressed lady takes details of a break-in, leaves behind her business card and details of how house insurance could earn me extra club points.

The Lincolnshire police authority has already agreed a £200m contract that will see G4S building and managing a police station as well as hiring half the force’s existing civilian staff.

Now the West Midlands and Surrey Police are considering offering contracts to private security firms such as G4S which could see their workers standing alongside uniformed officers to investigate crimes, patrol beats and detain suspects.

Change shouldn’t be feared. We should always look for improvement and advancement.

But it must in no way weaken or detract from the standards of safety, security and scrutiny we have.

Big steps have already been taken to make our police more efficient, free them up from office duties and help more get onto the front line of work.

As forces across the country battle to make further savings, they are looking at involving outside bodies more and more.

I’m sure there are more ways that the private sector could be involved in police work.

As Cumbria’s chief constable Stuart Hyde has said: “Many aspects of recording crime or forensic technology are privately managed.”

But we have to be wary.

Mr Hyde states: “Like most officers with whom I serve, I started my public service career with a clear intention to make life better for society and do things that are right.”

Which is how it should be. But the bottom line for any private firm is not to “make life better for society and do things that are right”.

It is simply to make a profit.

We are edging dangerously close to policing for profit and surely no-one wants to see that.

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