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Private police forces in the UK? No thanks.

  1. #1

    Private police forces in the UK? No thanks.

    The UK's latest terrifying trend, Private Policing.

    There has been a recent news story that the West Midlands and Surrey police forces in the UK have invited for bids from companies on behalf of all the forces. The proposals for bids could effectively be given powers of investigation and arrest under this proposal.

    I fundamentally and vehemently disagree with this premise. I will now begin to explain why.

    Historical precedent.

    Let us look at the effect privatisation has on security and defence in general. Many of you could argue that I am cherry picking the worst examples, but they are also the most obvious and damning examples of the deleterious effects of the private sector interfacing with the public sector and the profit motive being less than honest with us.

    1) Private prisons.

    Reported by the Arizona Republic, private prisons in the state so far cost more on a per-prisoner basis than do publically run prisons. Some experts contend that firms in the prison business reap profits by billing government for far more than their initial lowball projections while cutting corners in ways that may make prisons less secure.

    From an economic point of view, we should expect firms that compete for and rely on government contracts, such as weapons manufacturers and prison operators, to maximise the spread between the amount billed and the actual cost of delivering the service. If contractors can get away with providing less value for money than would the government-run alternative, they will. Moreover, contractors have every incentive to make themselves seem necessary. It is well-known that public prison employee unions constitute a powerful constituency for tough sentencing policies that lead to larger prison populations requiring additional prisons and personnel. The great hazard of contracting out incarceration "services" is that private firms may well turn out to be even more efficient and effective than unions in lobbying for policies that would increase prison populations.
    2) Private Police.

    Historically the Americas used Private policing forces quite significantly until the LaFollette Civili Liberties Committee. I admit that they failed in actually attempting any real change by regulatory methods but what was uncovered by the committee and then reported on by the press enraged the public to such a degree that they soon after disappeared from Private policing duties soon after.

    To quote the report:
    "Such a spy system . . . places the employer in the very heart of the union council from the outset of any organizing effort. News of organizers coming into a town, contacts the organizers make among his employees, the names of employees who join the union, all organization plans, all activities of the union—these are as readily available to the employer as though he himself were running the union".
    3) Private Militaries.

    Well we all know how well the mercs have played out don't we? Also let us not forget Boeing, BAe et al. Yes, exactly.

    Frankly I see the idea in the UK to privatise police duties or more specifically contract out to such a degree to be worrying and ignoring of all historical evidence that to do such things is an unmitigated disaster.


    A friend who works in the home office had this gem to share with me

    They also want to privitize immigration casework, Serco have offered to do it free for 6 months. Serco actually did 6 months of backlog casework last year. They made a fucking mess of it, so thats probably why they are offering it free for 6 months. Serco staff were caught having sex in the toilets, two of them had a fight in the lobby of the building and we had to use all of our own staff to check their work. It was hilariously bad.

    Also, even it if costs more they will go for it. Its all about headcount not cost. The headcount thing is the worst. Its just a drive to get staff numbers down, damn the ability of the departments to actually do the work they are tasked with and who cares about how much it costs both in the short term and the long term. Making civil servants redundant isnt cheap, even after they butchered the terms. The new IBM caseworking system is already 2 years behind schedule and missing half of the features it was supposed to have that would have meant less people could do more
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  2. #2
    Member Shoota Fodder's Avatar
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    I don't entirely have time to read through those articles for a better picture, but I would like to know what the real point in this is? Yes the police are losing a lot of funding but I have yet to see any real decrease in police movements in my hometown. For example last night I was out and on the walk home from the pub to the train station (About a third of a kilometre) I passed no less than four two-officer patrols. Yes it was the city centre but I still don't see a real need for extra personnel.

    I have a better example. I got mugged round the corner from my house a few days ago (I have the broken fingers to prove it). The police arrived while I was still on the phone to the operator on the other end of 999, describing to her what exactly had happened. I live at the edge of a largish town and, albeit, there must have been a patrol car nearby, they arrived incredibly quickly. I really don't see the need and I do disapprove of the idea of a profit seeking organisation running law enforcement.
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  3. Gamers Lounge Senior Member General Discussions Senior Member  #3
    Doltformer Kirjava's Avatar
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    It is fundamentally a bad idea to involve private companies, whose bottom line is profit for shareholders, in what are essential public services, which have completely different final objectives.

    That's a short and simple argument, admittedly, but that's it, narrowed down. This is a Bad Idea.
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  4. #4
    Member Busby's Avatar
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    Skipping over the blatant moral issues with privatising the Police force,

    "Private companies will not be able to arrest suspects, and they will not be solely responsible for investigating crime."
    What's the point in hiring these rent-a-cops if they can't arrest people or do ordinary police work? It seems a little daft. They can't possibly save that much money if they need to be supervised by a proper PC at all times, never mind the internal issues this would cause.

  5. Gamers Lounge Senior Member General Discussions Senior Member Forum Subscriber  #5
    Do You Even Lift? Mantaray's Avatar
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    its one step away from legalised vigilantism... i wont respond to anyone who isnt a policeperson.

  6. #6
    Technically we still have at least pseudo-private police forces in some places here in the US. San Francisco is a well-known example:
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  7. #7
    Member PetarB's Avatar
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    Don't they have some private police forces in some states in the US? How's that going? I'm fundamentally opposed to the idea too, but I'd be interested in hearing how it's working right now....

  8. #8
    Ever so slightly out of place. Guilliman's Avatar
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    How do they make a profit? Per arrest they get funding or % of fines? From a business pov; wouldn't that lead to serious "witch-hunts"?

  9. #9
    The local business owners and/or residents pay them for their services, basically. In San Francisco at least, they're supplemental forces, you have the option of paying for their added protection on top of the normal police force. Since you're a paying customer of theirs, they tend to show up in a hurry when you call them.

  10. Dawn of War II Senior Member  #10
    My Knob has 0HP! Vintage's Avatar
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    What is the point of that? Either way they will show up after the crime is committed. Just like normal police, they won't be there to save you when the crime is happening. Why pay extra for that when you can just have normal police come and do the same thing, even if they take a bit longer?
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  11. General Discussions Senior Member  #11
    Senior Member roflmao's Avatar
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    I don't know. Government holds private companies accountable. Government doesn't hold government accountable.

    Just to clarify. I definitely believe the state should hold a monopoly on violence. I don't think any other system can be humane. But, it's still disgusting the way the police behave down here and get away scot-free since they're government.
    Last edited by roflmao; 5th Mar 12 at 10:03 AM.

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  13. Technical Help Senior Member Modding Senior Member Company of Heroes Senior Member Dawn of War Senior Member  #13
    Cult of Personality Adonis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hangfire
    Well we all know how well the mercs have played out don't we? Also let us not forget Boeing, BAe et al. Yes, exactly.
    I think it'd be better if you didn't assume that this is common knowledge and we all know what you're talking about. Would you elaborate on this point?

  14. #14
    Formerly named Blackwater then named Xe now named Acedemi, they've been effectively banned from being able to take any contracts in Iraq by the Iraqi gov for the number of atrcotities that they have commited while on state department contract. Dyncorp in the former yugoslavia, ArmorGroup in Iraq... fighting a war on the cheap doesn't make it cheaper. Look at the costs now.

    Boeing got into trouble for trying to bribe Pentagon officials, BAe got into trouble for bribery too... Halliburton have a list of black marks to their name as long as my arm. It's just stupid.

    The list of military contractors outright failing or costing the taxpayer far more than the bid or breaking the laws of war are just too damn long to mention. Just look up some fo the names I've mentioned.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by roflmao View Post
    Government holds private companies accountable.
    No. Not even close. Private contractors figured out a long time ago you could get away with a lot as long as you slip envelopes full of money to the government officials tasked with regulating them.

    Government contractors have pretty much established a pattern of incompetance and corruption that is so terrible that it would be halarious were it not for the fact that its your taxpayer dollars going towards it.

  16. #16
    Optimus Prime is exactly right, I trust companies to care about profits. I don't trust a private police company to care about protecting the innocent and all that unless it actually helped their profits constantly.

  17. Child's Play Donor Technical Help Senior Member General Discussions Senior Member Company of Heroes Senior Member  #17
    Hydra's Super Marshal GeoffS's Avatar
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    Sigh, has anybody actually read the article linked in the OP? Despite the misleading thread title, this is not about setting up "private police forces". It's about a proposal to contract out some support services to be done by private companies under the supervision of police.

    From the article...

    Staff would support officers carry out duties but would not make arrests.


    In a statement, the Home Office said of the plans: "Private companies will not be able to arrest suspects, and they will not be solely responsible for investigating crime."


    Chief Superintendent Phil Kay of West Midlands Police said the most important duties would still be carried out by sworn officers. "Some elements of patrolling it may be appropriate, but the majority of patrolling, the majority of responding to calls for service, particularly 999 calls, will continue to be done by police officers,'" he said.

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  18. #18
    Majority of patrolling, intimating that some patrolling would be done by rent-a-cops.

  19. Child's Play Donor Technical Help Senior Member General Discussions Senior Member Company of Heroes Senior Member  #19
    Hydra's Super Marshal GeoffS's Avatar
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    Or, if you look at it without the "rent-a-cop" bias and prejudice, it could just mean that some patrolling that police do now does not require the (expensive) use of fully trained police and could be done more efficiently by private security services.

  20. #20
    Disciple of Khaine darkelf's Avatar
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    What kind of patrolling would you be able to do if you can't arrest people, though? I doubt you'd even be able to restrain people (I'm unsure of the laws in England, but at least in Norway any hired security, which is what this would be equivalent to, are not even allowed to hold you back or they risk assault charges), so you are basically walking around looking for things and then calling the real cops if you see anything. Just like what any regular citizen would do, except they're being paid to do it.
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  21. General Discussions Senior Member The Studio Senior Member  #21
    I haz nori, u want? Nurizeko's Avatar
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    We already have 'Community Support Wardens' or whatever and they aren't taken very seriously at all.

    Assuming we ignore the other arguments aside, the public want to be policed by the police, not have some fancy dress types pretending to be a deterrent everyone knows to be empty.

    But then we return to the arguments that privatized sectors tend to be profiteering (corrupt) and aren't as focused on their actual job than say someone who's sole concern is to satisfy the public's needs.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by darkelf
    Just like what any regular citizen would can do, except they're being paid to do it.
    Just to make sure we're all on the same page.

    Most regular citizens would not call the cops unless they themselves or their family/friends are in trouble. Or if they are old ladies. Everyone else wants to mind their own business.
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  23. Homeworld Senior Member  #23
    The only thing I can see this being appropriate is when an officer detains someone or a group of people and then has to wait for a police van to arrive to cart them back to the station. Outsource the transport from the scene back to the station and you free up 1-2 officers from driving the van.

  24. Child's Play Donor Technical Help Senior Member General Discussions Senior Member Company of Heroes Senior Member  #24
    Hydra's Super Marshal GeoffS's Avatar
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    Or providing support for victims of crime, or contacting witnesses and supporting them through trials, or standing guard outside 10 Downing St, or supervising cleanup after traffic accidents, or doing traffic control when signals fail, or...

  25. #25
    Member TDATL's Avatar
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    GeoffS' examples are actually a really good way to free up police time.

    Perhaps we could call them "Assistant Police" or something if that was to be their role.
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  26. Child's Play Donor General Discussions Senior Member  #26
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    My experience of private police, assistant police, mercs or whatever we are calling them(the thread is confusing since the role of these.. guys.. in the article is rather unclear) extends to the guards that are patrolling just about every crowded area in swedish cities these days. They are most often seen around pubs, subways, buses and other places were crowd control is often needed(particulary on weekends and nights). They also handle security for businesses, money transports etc.. ie its regular security that i'm assuming is found in most countries.

    Like darkelf says there are alot of restrictions on them when it comes to restraining or intervening. Thing is though, they all ignore those restrictions because they always get away with a very heavy handed approach. Courts almost always side with security and they tend to cover for each other. And while i'll be the first to admit i am usually relieved when i see those guys patrolling the streets full of rowdy drunk people in weekends, just about everyone you meet have a story of abuse to tell. In general, police here are very professional and helpful and can often handle a situation without even having to restrain people while guards tend to quickly escalate conflicts into full-blown fights.

    Police officers are a much more expensive option but they are worth that money in my opinion. If you want more efficiency in police departments, have private companies handle administrative duties and have only trained police in the streets, not the other way around.

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  27. #27
    Member Savage Noble's Avatar
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    If these "private police" are supposed to free up police in areas that do not require intensive police training then you also get the problem of civilians not repecting the authority of anyone who cannot arrest you. Security guards are seen as a joke by most North Americans because they are generally unskilled, uneducated drop-outs or old men who at best can call the real police to show up. Armed security for bank trucks are usually competent but thats about it.
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  28. General Discussions Senior Member Homeworld Senior Member  #28
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    The local business owners and/or residents pay them for their services, basically. In San Francisco at least, they're supplemental forces, you have the option of paying for their added protection on top of the normal police force. Since you're a paying customer of theirs, they tend to show up in a hurry when you call them.
    In this case you wouldn't even get the benefit of being a paying customer anyway because these private firms are being paid by the state rather than by individual members of the public directly. Thus, there is a far lesser incentive for them to respond with extra speed or care because they might lose a customer if they don't. I don't disagree with the existence of such private firms and the services they provide (hell, my folks pay one of these companies to keep an eye on the house) but they should never replace actual police.

    He added: "Privatisation means that the police will be less accountable to the public. And people will no longer be able to go to the Independent Police Complaints Commission if they have a problem."
    This is a massive problem for me. Policing is an area of public service that demands massive levels of accountability and transparency to the public. The old adage goes that justice must not only be done, but also it must be seen to be done. A mechanism like an independent complaints commission for the police is almost essential to ensure that those we entrust with the monopoly of internal force in a democratic society do not exploit their positions and their powers. If an actual police officer does something wrong, let's say for example using excessive force during an arrest, the victim can make a complaint to the Commission and have the Commission conduct an investigation on their behalf. If a private "police officer" does something wrong, you wouldn't have the benefit of making a complaint. You'd still have the option of taking the private "police officer" to court but the costs inherent in engaging a lawyer and actually litigating such a case would be much, much higher.

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  29. #29
    Member Kien's Avatar
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    Private police... reminds me of all the discussions of anarchism I have watched on youtube. One of the main arguments is that having many private defense/police companies will create competition and therefore increase the standard. True or false I don't know.
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