Surrey Police chief postpones privatisation plans
SURREY Police's chief constable Lynne Owens has put on hold plans to contract-out some of its services to private companies.
Her predecessor Mark Rowley drew up the pioneering scheme which could see companies take responsibility for patrolling neighbourhoods.
In March, bids worth £1.5bn were invited from private firms which could give them powers to guard crime scenes and investigate crimes.
But Ms Owens has called on Surrey Police Authority (SPA) to wait until the autumn to review the proposals.
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Ensuring a safe and secure Olympics, protecting frontline policing and consulting police and the public meant delaying its "Business Partnering programme", she told SPA members on Thursday.
She said: "What has been clear from discussions with Police Authority Members at subsequent meetings, and from recent media coverage and public feedback, is that one of the challenges has been explaining clearly what the programme seeks to achieve.
"There is a need to describe what business partnering would look like, how it could work and what it would mean for the public of Surrey.
"Since my return to the force as Chief Constable, I have, naturally, wanted to take time to consider how Business Partnering may fit within my wider plans for the Force."
Surrey Police Federation (SPF) said it fully supported the decision made by Ms Owens, who replaced Mr Rowley earlier this year.
Simon Moxon, SPF general secretary, said: "Surrey Police Federation fully backs chief constable Lyne Owens and Surrey Police Authority in the decision to suspend this programme in what will be one of busiest years for Surrey Police - we have already got the diamond jubilee, the torch relay and the Olympics."
He added: "The chief constable wants to make sure that this is right for Surrey police and the area of Surrey."
Unions have also welcomed the chief constable's decision with Unite calling on West Midlands Police, which is also pursuing privatisation plans, to do the same.
Unison said in a statement:"It is the people of West Midlands and Surrey who will suffer initially from the consequences of poorer services, as private companies cut-back to increase profit. And as more forces follow in their footsteps, we will all suffer."