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Heading for a Catastrophe

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Earlier this week it was revealed by a national newspaper that the government is planning to strip an already bare police service even further without any care for the impact on the public. The privatisation of the police service will have a detrimental effect on public safety and the level of service they expect and deserve from us. I don't say this lightly, I am genuinely outraged by what is happening to the greatest police service in the world.

The only people to blame for the demise of the service are David Cameron and his government. By imposing a 20% budget cut on policing they ensured that chief officers faced a dilemma about how to balance the books whilst maintaining the level of service the public receives.

Without seeming bitter and resentful towards private companies bidding to 'help us out' in our time of need, we are undoubtedly facing a major moral conflict. Not surprisingly, the priority of private companies within policing will be profit and not people, and we must not forget, they are answerable to their shareholders and not to the public we serve.

If core policing roles such as patrols and the power to detain are handed over to employees from a private firm, what will we be left with? The public will be left with a less accountable, less resilient, less experienced mass of glorified bouncers who are surrounded by a weakened, defeated and demoralised police service. A police service tasked only with fighting crime, we can forget relationship building and neighbourhood policing. Forget school liaison officers, domestic violence units and family liaison officers we will be busy on the streets fighting crime and packing offenders off in a van of some sort for a night in a privately run custody suite. How will we follow a conviction through? How will we gain intelligence? How will we guarantee an impartial service with public safety as the number one priority if forces choose to go down this route? The simple answer is; we can't.

I'm genuinely baffled by the ignorance of our representatives in government. How can they sit in the comfy confines of Whitehall and undo all that has been achieved by the British police service and meddle in things they clearly don't understand? It is time to ask the public what they want from policing. If they would like to see private companies heavily involved in the everyday business of policing then fine, we should go ahead and invite companies to tender. However, they haven't been asked. In fact, they are as much in the dark about the future of policing as we are. We are heading for catastrophic consequences.

It is time we got some answers. What is government really planning for the future of policing and when exactly are our chief constables going to stand up for police officers and the public? Diluting one of the most modern, efficient and important public services with profit hungry private companies is very dangerous territory and if it's a route chiefs are planning to take then surely we need an open debate and a fair discussion. I don't really want to find out from a national newspaper that the face of British policing is about to be turned inside out. I think the officers I represent, and the public we serve, deserve to be involved in these plans.

Police officers deserve more respect. We are already making a significant contribution, we've accepted a two-year pay freeze, likely to see our pension contributions increase, donated almost £400 million to the economy and we are set to lose 34,000 police officers and support staff over the next four years.

All of this on top of the biggest over-haul of our terms and conditions in our history. So it's time that the Prime Minister, Home Secretary and their peers stopped ignoring us and started listening. They will need the police service more than ever this year with the Queen's Jubilee celebrations, the Olympics and more planned public sector strikes. A demoralised and betrayed police service might not live up to the government's expectations. We simply cannot provide more for less and if government think private companies will, then they really are more reckless and blinkered than I have given them credit for.

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