Yvonne Fovargue, MP for Makerfield: Response to my concern over cutting police budgets.

Dear Mr Shale
Thank you for contacting me recently raising your concern about proposals by police forces to outsource certain police functions to private firms. As understand it, both West Midlands and Surrey Police forces have announced proposals so far.

I am aware of these concerns and while the precise details of these contracts are yet to be seen, it is reported that they could be worth at least £1.5 billion over seven years and could involve a range of police services including pursuing criminal investigations, detaining suspects, responding to and investigating incidents, managing high-risk individuals and patrolling neighbourhoods as well as some back-office functions such as managing forensics and human resources.

I appreciate that public-private partnerships can prove effective and police forces should, of course, pursue efficiencies but I am very concerned about the potential for these contracts to cross into core policing duties and that this could risk public trust in policing.

It is vital that the police retain public confidence and that decisions to investigate or pursue crimes are taken in the interests of justice rather than the private interests of a company so it is a serious concern that private companies could be responsible for patrolling public places or managing high-risk offenders.

I know that the Police Federation have also expressed concerns about this and fear that police forces are being driven down the road of outsourcing and privatising core functions because of the Government’s decision to cut the police budget by 20% over four years.

This cut — which is larger than the 12% cut that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC) have said can be achieved without affecting frontline services — has put real strain on police forces across the country and could result in the loss of 16,000 police officers.

Indeed, West Midlands Police Authority face budget cuts of £125 million over four years and Surrey Police Authority need to make savings of £28 million by 2015.

Both West Midlands and Surrey Police Forces did announce that they would delay their plans until after the Olympics and until they have undertaken further public consultation.

I think this is an important opportunity for these two police forces and the Government to listen carefully to the concerns of the public, the Police Federation and officers and to ensure that core policing activity is not compromised by funding cuts.

I can assure you that I will continue to closely monitor this issue and press the Government to reconsider their 20% cuts to the policing budget.

Thank you once again for writing to me.
Yours sincerely

Yvonne Fovargue
Labour Member for Makerfield




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