JOB adverts for ‘civilian investigators’ carrying out front line police duties on the payroll of security firm G4S have prompted furious debate among candidates to be Warwickshire’s police commissioner.
The private security firm advertised for 40 officers based in Leamington, Rugby and Nuneaton in a move Labour candidate James Plaskitt and Police Federation chairman Simon Payne described as a “slide” towards privatisation.
On a “long-term contract with no specified end date”, duties include gathering evidence, taking statements, house to house enquiries and undertaking ‘sensitive high profile case enquiries, posts would be “ideally suited to experienced ex-police”.
Mr Plaskitt, a former Warwick and Leamington MP, said: “Anyone reading that job description would think it was the definition of a police officer’s work. Well, it is. It suggests to me that we have indeed lost too many officers in Warwickshire as a result of government-imposed cuts, and now the force is turning to G4S to plug the gaps.”
Soldiers and police were called in to fill positions for which G4S had failed to recruit staff during the Olympics. Mr Plaskitt pledged not to go down the route of police privatisation.
He added: “After what we have just witnessed with G4S and a major case of contract non-delivery, should we really be turning to them to fill positions that sound like – and actually are – police roles? This development shows how cutting too deeply results in a slide towards privatisation.”
Police Federation chairman Mr Payne, who represents rank and file officers, said the “front-line” roles should be carried out by front-line officers.
He said the Government was deliberately underfunding forces with an agenda of privatising policing.
Mr Payne said: “Rank and file police officers focus on protecting the public, not on profit margins. People need to be very mindful that the police service isn’t a business. Police officers are the public and the public are police officers.
“This is a huge stride towards the finest police service in the world being taken over by companies like G4S.”
But Fraser Pithie, the Conservative candidate, said using temporary investigators was an “efficient and effective” way of cutting crime when police, who normally have a career of 30 years, could not be recruited on a short-term basis.
He attacked “political dogma” and said temporary staff would enable the force to focus on burglary, thefts from cars and robbery.
Mr Pithie said: “The vast majority of people and businesses across Warwickshire are not interested in political dogma being applied to the police, but they are interested in cutting crime.
“It makes good sense that Warwickshire are seeking to recruit specialist investigators who do not need the full powers of a warranted officer. Further, I understand that any such staff employed will be vetted and under the direct control of Warwickshire Police. This is a sensible safeguard, that as a previous warranted officer, satisfies me.”