Private security company G4S is again at the forefront of privatising UK law enforcement services. Following last April’s award of Birmingham Prison – the first brownfield UK prison to be transferred to the private sector – G4S has now teamed up with the Lincolnshire Police Authority (LPA) to build and run a police station.
The 10-year, £200 million (€236 million; $316 million) contract will see the LPA outsource several services to G4S, including staffing and handling of custody services, with private staff taking over many jobs that used to be handled by regular police officers.
Kim Challis, group managing director for G4S government and outsourcing services, said in a statement that the firm – billed as the world’s largest security company – “is excited to be partnering with Lincolnshire Police in delivering this landmark programme, which is the first of its kind in the UK”.
The outsourcing contract comes in response to the UK government’s call for budget cuts, said LPA chairman Barry Young, adding that “the new strategic partnership will also deliver significant infrastructure investment that will offset the budget reductions being called by the government”.
LPA has also pointed out that its example is inspiring 10 other police authorities to follow suit, which could unlock a total of £2 billion in private sector law-enforcement outsourcing contracts over the next decade.
But Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, a trade organisation, expressed concerns over the commitment of private security staff to law enforcement:
“Our primary concern is the impact future private contracts will have on the flexibility of the police service, we would hope that officers are not left high and dry in times of national emergency. Police officers should not have to worry about inheriting additional workload as a result of cuts or changes to the working conditions of support staff.”