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1 May 2012
Unite, Britain's biggest union, is urging the people of the West Midlands to stand up against plans to turn the region into a 'test bed' for the privatisation of the police force.
Plans presented by West Midlands police could see vital police services - including call handling and prisoner transportation - placed into the hands of private companies, including security service G4S. In a series of region-wide press advertisements, Unite is warning chief constable Chris Sims that his salami slicing approach will damage the entire police service in the region and bring an end to joined up policing.
The union is also claiming that the lack of information on what exactly is planned and the millions of pounds the privatisation programme is costing the region is being shrouded from the public. The ads will run ahead of the local elections on 3 May, warning the public of the problems privatisation could bring, and calling on the chief constable to come clean on the plans.
The 'Keep our Police Public' ads will run in the Birmingham Mail, Birmingham Post, Coventry Telegraph, the Express and Star and the Metro news paper, with the aim of bringing this latest threat to a key public service directly into people's homes.
Gerald Coyne, Unite regional secretary, warned that a sell-off of police services will see profits put before citizens: "We pay for a police service that we can trust to put the public before profits, and that is why we vehemently oppose any attempts to turn this region's force into a test bed for the nation. Our service is not for sale and we urge voters to send this message at the polls this Thursday.
"Privatisation has nothing to do with making our streets safer – it won't even save money, the police authority has admitted as much. This has everything to do with driving an ideological agenda to sell off yet another public service. But this time it's the police. There is a very real danger that when police support staff go, the lives of police officers will be put at risk.
“At a time when people are already worried about the severe cuts in policing budgets, we are saying to chief constable, Chris Sims, that privatisation is not wanted and he should dump these Home Office plans in the bin where they belong."
Under guidance from the Home Office, the West Midlands and Surrey police have advertised contracts worth £1.5 billion to run policing services in both forces. The contracts could lead to the privatisation of crime investigation, forensics, 999 call-handling, custody and detention and a wide range of police support services.
The West Midlands ' plans are the most advanced, with a decision on whether to proceed to the next stage of privatisation due to be taken by the local authority on 24 May 2012.