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17 May 2012
Unite has accused chief constable Chris Sims of trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the people of the West Midlands by claiming the 'West Midlands Police (WMP) force is not for sale'.
Under guidance from the Home Office, both the West Midlands and Surrey police have advertised contracts worth £1.5 billion to private companies to run policing services in both forces. Unbelievably the chief constable is holding a press conference today entitled "West Midlands Police is not for sale".
Unite believes WMP is keeping the public in the dark and refusing to provide the most basic answers to questions that the police staff have put to WMP.
At a meeting on Tuesday (15 May) which was supposed to be a 'myth busting' exercise for staff presented by WMP, staff asked 14 questions (listed below). Police staff were alarmed that the senior members of the WMP procurement team were unable to give proper answers to any of the questions listed below.
Unite regional secretary, Gerard Coyne said: "It beggars belief that chief constable Chris Sims is brazen enough to claim the West Midlands Police Force is not for sale when it clearly is. Private companies are being asked to bid to run core police services for profit. This is yet another attempt to pull the wool over our eyes.
"With only a week to go until the West Midlands Police Authority decides whether to take a significant step towards privatisation WMP is refusing to answer the most basic questions about what privatisation will mean for staff and for the service.
"The government and the leadership within WMP are trying to rush through privatisation. They are keeping police staff and the people of the West Midlands in the dark. Significant parts of police services are up for sale but Chief Constable Chris Sims won't come clean about the real impact privatisation will have on such an important public service."
The key questions were:
1. What areas of business are up for grabs?
2. What time scales are the force working to if they do sign a contract?
3. Will privatisation impact on staff numbers?
4. How will the force ensure the security of information?
5. How will the force cope once a private company de-skills the police staff?
6. Could WMP afford to re-employ staff if the contract fails?
7. How will the Police & Crime Commissioner affect the process?
8. Why is the advert for the privatisation process not available on the intranet so that all staff can read it?
9. Will changes be made slowly or will it be big bang?
10. What exactly is transformation? ( Transformation is the term used by WMP to describe what Unite and many others call privatisation)
11. Where is the money coming from to pay the private company?
12. How will it affect collaboration?
13. Who are the companies bidding for work and will they be visiting WMP to do research?
14. Will I still have a job next year?