Tomorrow, Tuesday 13 March, Surrey and West Midlands Police alongside our respective police authorities will be hosting a conference which allows interested private sector companies to find out more about working with both forces.
As you are well aware, over the last 10 days the topic of ‘private partnering’ has generated a lot of media coverage and political debate, not all of it is accurate. I wanted to contact you, so you are clear about the purpose of this conference and what it means to me and my Force.
The day is being held at the Congress Centre in London. It’s known as a Bidders’ Conference and 64 companies, many of which are well-known household names, are registered to attend the event. Delegates will hear from both myself and West Midlands Chief Constable, Chris Sims on what we would hope to achieve from such partnerships. It is also an opportunity for us, supported by our deputies and police authority chairs to explain how the procurement process will work.
Partnering with the private sector is not a new concept for the police and there is a lot of interest nationally from other police forces. We are all facing similar financial constraints, therefore many other forces, police authorities and police staff associations are attending.
Media interest was sparked, last week, following the advertisement in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), this is a formal and rather cumbersome procurement process, which asks for expressions of interest from suitably qualified external organisations to work with both forces. This conference is the next stage and I emphasise that this is a ‘small cautious’ step.
Any company eventually working with the forces and police authorities will be expected to share and uphold our values. If we pursue this route further, it is on the understanding that combining with a private partner must result in an improvement to the quality of the service provided to the public as well as make savings, which will help us to protect frontline policing in the long-term.
I am clear about what this isn’t, which is privatisation of the police. I will retain full control and accountability of all services delivered. I will reiterate the point I made last week, any suggestion that a private sector company will patrol the streets of Surrey is simply nonsense. Roles such as response officers, neighbourhood beat officers, firearms officers and crime investigators will continue to be undertaken by officers under my direct command.
The police authorities, who have been involved throughout this whole process, or Police & Crime Commissioners (PCC) will be involved in any final decision. I will add, that I will only make a recommendation to progress this further, if private partnering improves our service and delivers savings.
From the end of March I am intending to circulate a regular briefing to update you on all matters relating to Surrey Police, I will using this bulletin to keep you fully appraised of developments.