G4S Running Cambridgeshire Police Back Office Discussed by Police Authority

Friday, June 29th, 2012. 2:59am

On the 28th of June 2012 I observed a Cambridgeshire Police Authority meeting. Usually when I observe Police Authority meetings there’s only me, and on rare occasion at most one or two others, present. At this meeting there were over fifty people in the public seating, many were wearing unison “stop police cuts” t-shirts, others were wearing police staff IDs, there were also one or two police officers in uniform and a smattering of other members of the public.

The reason the meeting attracted such interest was that it was considering a paper from the Chief Constable and Chief Executive of the Police Authority recommending they should approve the working up of a business case for handing over the running of the “operational support” element of the police force to private company G4S. Effectively under the proposal most elements of policing not carried out by constables or PCSOs, or not already handled by private companies, would be contracted to G4S.

Members of the authority present, with the exception of Liberal Democrat Cllr Wilkins who abstained, voted in favour of working up the business plan. They also though asked the Chief Constable to work on a “plan B”. What “plan B” might amount to was left very open and undefined, it may even be a range of options.

Cllr Wilkins sought a number of times to formally propose that “plan B” ought be a three-force collaboration, however the chair of the police authority refused to accept his proposal, ruling it “impossible”. I think this action by the chair was absolutely wrong, it ought to have been up to the authority members, not the chair acting unilaterally, what position they took. The chair’s reasoning for rejecting Cllr Wilkins’ proposal was that Hertfordshire Police Authority had recently decided to only consider the privatisation to G4S and not any other option. However the chair has not considered that following the decisions of Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire’s police authorities Hertfordshire might reconsider their decision, a decision they made without the benefit of knowing the views of the other authorities.

Cllr Matthew Lee (Conservative, Peterborough City Council) expressed a preference for only considering the G4S option, saying that any other option would result in cuts to police officer numbers which he would not support.

My View

I cannot see how the option for wholesale privatisation to G4S could ever be made acceptable. I cannot see how concerns can be overcome relating to:

  • A lack of flexibility and the opportunity for the private company to extort additional funds should changes be made to the services required.
  • The risk of G4S failing as a commercial entity ie. going bust.
  • Savings being “contractually guaranteed” but services levels not being subject to such an assurance.

I suspect “plan B” will turn out to be a range of options to be presented to an incoming Police and Crime Commissioner, including various degrees of outsourcing / privatisation. The incoming commissioner will need to outsource where it makes sense, but while retaining ownership and control of the key services within the police force, almost certainly acting in partnership with other forces, and perhaps even nationally.

The incoming commissioner will have the additional option of seeking to raise more money for policing Cambridgeshire by holding a referendum on raising the police element of the council tax. My view is that raising additional funds in this way would not be appropriate, or necessary, reform is needed to provide the savings and to modernise the police force, throwing more money at the problem is not a sensible answer.

One thing is clear, the incoming commissioners in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire are all going to need to be up to speed and ready to to make some key decisions, and quickly, as the longer we delay without reform, the more money is being spent. It maybe the commissioner(s) who get the problem and the opportunity have to lobby the other(s) to get them on board. Perhaps a public summit between the Chief Constables and Commissioners of the three forces should be pencilled in the diary for the end of November now?

Key Points

  • KPMG warned Cambridgeshire Police are “commercially immature”; suggesting great caution is due if such a body engages with a smart and sophisticated profit seeking behemoth like G4S.
  • The chair of the police authority unilaterally refused to let members vote on an alternative option proposed, of collaborative working with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire but without wholesale outsourcing to G4S.
  • Commenting on the prospect of G4S taking over the back office functions the Chief Constable said: “There may be a poorer service but that maybe what we can afford.”
  • The Chief Constable is concerned that setting out his ideas for the future of the force might be seen as him setting out his “manifesto as chief” in the context of the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections.
  • A Police Chief blamed “treasury guidance” for the initial proposal to compare the G4S option with doing nothing, rather than with alternative ways of modernising and saving money.

Meeting Report

I arrived at Police Headquarters in Huntington to see a Unison protest outside packing up, and people moving inside for the meeting. The Police Authority had dropped their usual requirement of demanding photo ID, such as a passport and photographing members of the public then entering their details on a police database before allowing observation of an authority meeting, presumably due to the fact this process would have taken hours for all those wishing to observe proceedings. The meeting was held in the canteen, and entrance was possible directly from outside via a fire-exit, with no controls at all on who could walk straight in.

The meeting got underway with the election of chair of the Police Authority, the previous chair Ruth Rodgers, was re-elected.

Rodgers announced that twenty public questions had been submitted, and there was only a fifteen minute slot for public speaking which she was unwilling to use her chair’s discretion to extend.

Eleven questions on the proposed privatisation, and four questions/statements from me, had been submitted far enough in advance to have been printed on a paper circulated at the meeting along with answers prepared by the authority’s secretariat.

Rogers ruled those who had submitted questions would be invited to read them out, but not ask any follow-ups or or receive any answers orally.

David Craig, Secretary of the Constabulary Staff Branch of Unison was first up. He read his question out exactly as written on the piece of paper which had been circulated to everyone, and he returned to his seat. This was then repeated nine times, quickly the public present realised this was a farce, and the public question slot wasn’t achieving anything at all and was just wasting time.

I was invited to ask one of my questions. I started by noting I had wanted to film the meeting, and that there was clearly significant public interest in what was being discussed. I said I was surprised the chair’s remarks had not mentioned her ruling banning filming of the meeting, which I told the authority members, and those observing, had been on the grounds of there being a lot on the meeting’s agenda. I made clear I didn’t think much of that reason.

The question I decided to draw attention to at the meeting was on giving police powers to security guards, bouncers and similar (Text of Submitted Questions). I explained my opposition to this on the grounds it would not be clear to the public who had police powers and who didn’t; that it was putting the reputation of British policing in the hands of these security guards and bouncers; and that these people were not working with the kinds of safeguards and oversight which apply to police officers. I urged the authority to properly consult with local authorities when considering handing out police powers in this way, and noted the objection of Cambridge City Council to the mooted giving police powers to their city rangers, and that this had been omitted from a recent police authority report on the subject. I urged the authority to make sure that when they consulted local authorities they got answers approved by the political leadership rather than rogue officers.

I like all public questioners got no response from the authority orally, this particular question had not been addressed in writing either. Many people observing dismissed the secretariat’s responses as non-answers. I expect they will be made available on the Police Authority website tomorrow. The secretariat provide their responses to questionnaires as the meeting begins, even where follow-ups are permitted this gives questioners just a few seconds while the meeting gets under-way to read the prepared response and determine what needs clarifying or following up.

As the process of taking public questions had been managed in such a restrictive manner it was all over in ten minutes (with people taking an average of less than a minute each to read out their questions). The chair noted this and allowed an opportunity for a follow-up which was taken by a Unison representative, “Ed”, who used the opportunity to urge the authority to make its decision on privatisation in public, and if they were to go into secret session, to explain why their deliberation could not take place in public.

Chair Rodgers responded to say all the information had been made public except for commercial in confidence financial papers. She said she hoped the deliberation could be entirely in public, but if members wanted to refer to the financial papers it might be necessary to close the meeting.

As the public speaking section of the meeting was drawn to a close, Chair Rodgers announced she’d missed several bits of the agenda. She backtracked and dealt with the appointment of vice chairs, Benjamyn Damazer and Victor Lucas. (It appears they’ve decided to keep all positions, committee memberships etc. the same for the remainder of their time in existence).

Apologies for absence were taken. Cllr Shona Johnstone was absent without apologies.

Declarations of interest were taken. Unelected appointees on the authority John Pye and Ansar Ali stated they were prospective Police and Crime Commissioner candidates.

Organisational Support Business Case

The committee then turned to the “Organisational Support Business Case” item on their agenda.

Andy Mudd

Authority members were given a fifteen minute presentation from Andy Mudd who was introduced as someone who would speak on behalf of Unison on a paper they had submitted to the authority and which had published along with the papers to, the meeting. Mr Mudd introduced himself as being from the “Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE)” and said he was a member of APSE Consulting.

Mr Mudd said he fully supported the Chief Constable’s statement that an evidence based decision should be made; he said there needed to be evidence that change was the right thing before making that change, if there wasn’t he said the police should: “work as planned”.

“Affordability” is also important Mudd agreed.

Commenting on the collaboration between the three forces Mudd said that the assumption that “Big = Efficient” was wrong. He said there was such as thing as “too big to be efficient” and said there was an “optimum size”.

Turning to the papers before the committee Mudd complained about the lack of consideration of “dis-benefits”.

Mudd drew the authority’s attention to a serious of government IT failures, he said there many examples of things going spectacularly wrong. In terms of policing and local government he talked about the failure of South West One, a joint venture between IBM Somerset and Taunton Deane councils and Avon and Somerset police. He also talked about Liverpool’s collaboration with BT, which he said appeared to be going OK for a decade before they realised BT had been overcharging by millions, he went on and also talked about Swansea’s experiences with Cap Gemini.

Authority members were urged to discount talk of success in Lincolnshire given the privatisation of police support services to G4S there has only been underway for three months and it is too early to judge.

Mudd said there were “inherent dangers” with wholesale privatisation, he said there’s not a lot you can do if things go wrong, you have to wait until the end of the contract. He also talked about the lack of flexibility and the cost of making changes to requirements.

Commercial failure of the contractor would be catastrophic warned Mudd.

Mudd stated that the “Economy of Scale vs The Economy of Flow”. (I had to google that, I found this article provides a good synopsis of the idea which sounds much like the Chief Constable’s principles behind Operation Redesign, focus on the purpose, and build the systems you would if you were starting from scratch). Mudd’s own precis was that change should not be IT or process driven.

“Not who but how” was something Mudd said was crucial, suggesting either the police or a private company could make the changes required.

Chief Constable Simon Parr

Mr Parr started by saying: “There is still a lot to do to find out which is the best option”. His next sentence was: “Option 5A is the best option” (this is the working up of the full business case for wholesale privatisation to G4S).

Mr Parr said he had made his recommendation on the basis of what was the best option for Cambridgeshire, and he was not just recommending it because the Chief Constables and Authorities in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire were doing so.

Chief Constable Parr stated he had two key roles:

  1. Balance the budget
  2. Keep the public as safe as possible

He said that there had already been £5-10 million saved from the Cambridgeshire Police Budget with the numbers of PCs and PCSOs being retained. He said he wasn’t also able to retain processes and making savings is getting harder.

The Chief Constable addressed his remarks both to those in the rooms and to “everyone else who may be listening”, it appears he was more aware that a number of those present were recording proceedings than the chair of the authority. People expect to record audio, and take photos and videos all the time now, it wouldn’t occur to many people that a public body might forbid such action. I didn’t make any recordings as the chair had specifically explicitly banned me, but it was clear there was wide appreciation that others were doing so.

The Chief Constable said the best way to use public funds was “to keep cops on the streets”, he said that recommending privatisation didn’t come naturally to him, and that he understood that many police staff, even if they for example maintain vehicles, “feel part of policing”, he said he understood that many of those who would be affected by a transfer to G4S had a proud sense of being in public service.

Mr Parr ended his initial remarks saying: “If not this we would have to do something”.

Officer “John”

The Chief Constable then handed over to a police officer introduced only as “John”, despite some changes being made to authority processes taking account of the wide public interest, they still used first names or even nicknames, throughout making it hard to follow. We were told the officer is a Cambridgeshire officer who is a member of the Joint Working Group. The Joint Working Group is very not openly and transparently run so his identity isn’t imminently discernible; I note the professional press present had to ask around to try and identify this key contributor.

Officer “John” stated he and his team and considered the lawful and economic options. He addressed the comments saying flexibility was a concern he shared, but he and he team were tackling it. He noted that the Police Authority had set the criteria for assessing the options and that their desire to have little up-front investment involved had been one of the things leading to the G4S privatisation recommendation, he explained that we will still pay for the investment, but over time, with the privatisation option, whereas the DIY option would involve putting the money in up front.

Another Police Authority criteria was assurance the required savings would be made. He said the “contractual guarantee” to be given by G4S again made that option a strong one, he described the “contractual guarantee” as “all important”, he said this was “more reliable” than a project manager saying he hoped to bring home all the savings promised.

Next he described how KPMG had been brought in to assess the proposals; he said KPMG had been very critical of the force describing it as “commercially immature” and lacking in automation and use of technology. The officer said some in the force had been insulted by this, but it was the reality, and the force, as a public sector organisation, was far behind current commercial practices, for example in Human Resources.

The officer told the authority that three forces working together was key to making additional savings over working alone, be it via wholesale outsourcing or another route to modernisation and become more efficient and cost effective. The officer said the initial IT investment would need to be about £7m and that was the same whichever option was taken, the difference being that under the G4S option the authority would pay over time.

Chief Constable Simon Parr Again

Mr Parr said that whatever the Police Authority decided he would balance the police budget.

He said that avoiding wholesale privatisation would not save all jobs.

Mr Parr said that describing the G4S option as “privatising the police” was not accurate and not clear, he noted that already the canteen, forensics and legal services were provided by private contractors. He accepted what was being proposed was a much greater scale and extent of privatisation. He said further privatisation is not guaranteed, but reform is.

The Chief Constable repeated his statement that he wanted to “preserve the front line”; this drew groans from those members of the public who were police staff members.

The Chief said that approval of the recommendation would allow him to find out what a contract with G4S would mean.

Shona Johnstone

Cllr Shona Johnstone, who is seeking the Conservative nomination as candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, arrived very late, as the Chief Constable was making his second remarks having missed the public questions and presentation from Unison.


The first question was on the transfer of staff and guarantees on jobs, conditions, pensions etc. being maintained. The officers responded to say G4S was part of the Local Authority Pensions scheme, but admitted further details would not be available until a full business case was available.

The Chief Constable said the logical assumption ought be there will be redundancies, and that it was just a question of timing and route.

Prior making her first and only contribution to the meeting Police Authority member Nic Williams announced that she would have to leave to do “boring domestic stuff” at 16.45 (the meeting had started at 15.00). I wonder if she will be refunding the taxpayer some of her hefty police authority allowance?

In 2011-12 Nic Williams personally trousered over £9K of the over £200K authority members took home between them. The attendance records are not very useful as turning up at any point during a meeting counts as attendance. The question, for which she probably took home the best part of £1,000, was on “contractually guaranteed savings”, she asked if this was a new concept, and if there was any evidence of it working elsewhere. The response from officer “John” was that it wasn’t new, but he wasn’t aware of any evidence of it working anywhere. This drew laughs from public seating area. He noted that you could look to Lincolnshire, but noted, and accepted, the caveat raised by the Unison speaker that the arrangements there had only been in place for three months.

Another member of the authority raised a concern that if only one option was to be taken forward to the “full business plan” stage then effectively there would be only one option when that plan was presented, he asked what that plan would be compared with.

Officer “John” responded. He said that treasury guidance insisted that the comparator was “do nothing”. This prompted jeers from the public seating.

A member of the authority noted savings were to be contractually guaranteed but not the level of service. The Chief Constable responded: “The level of service will change”.

Cllr Wilkins expressed a concern that he was looking at a fait accompli, he said that if the G4S option was the only one taken forward then it would become the only option. He said that no-one, no-one round the table, and even no-one in the room would suggest doing nothing was an option, and that using it as a comparator: “was, putting it politely, daft”. Cllr Wilkins said: “The comparator needs to be a plan B”.

Mr Wilkins also asked about the way proposed redundancy payments were quoted as being at a “M” for medium level for some options and blank in others he queried if blank meant zero.

The response from the police was: “all staff would be transferred to G4S”. Many members of the public murmured in unison that this didn’t mean redundancies wouldn’t follow transfer.

Cllr Wilkins’ last question was on the transfer of the risk from the Police Authority to G4S, he queried what made that a good commercial decision for G4S.

The Chief Constable responded with one of the quotes which I expect will make the media coverage of the meeting:

There may be a poorer service but that maybe what we can afford.

The Chief Constable then explained behind the times the police were, as an example he hi-lighted the limited self-service and limited automation in the force’s human resources processes, he said there would have to be modernisation and this would for example lead to fewer people in HR.

Unelected appointee on the Police Authority Ruth Joyce asked what would happen if the force didn’t make the savings it has been asked to, if it didn’t balance the budget.

The Chief Constable said that was difficult to answer, and he didn’t really know, but he expected “some sort of financial special measures”. He said that he would avoid this though, and if necessary cut people and vehicles, he said that he was considering a recruitment freeze.

Many in the public seating appeared to think the Chief Constable was making threats as he talked of stopping planned recruitment of new officers. He indicated that he might make those kinds of threats / alarmist statements to an incoming Police and Crime Commissioner, urging them to consider holding a referendum so that more money can be raised via the council tax. (About 50% of police funding comes via council tax, the remainder from central government).

Cllr Victor Lucas spoke next. He asked if there had been any evaluation of savings in Lincolnshire resulting from their contract with G4S. The response was: “Yes, because the savings are contractually guaranteed they are already paying less”.

Lucas’ second question was if option 3b (three force collaboration, not involving wholesale privatisation) had been fully investigated and costed. He was told it had been, “thoroughly”, however had the details been made public he wouldn’t have needed to ask the question, again the problem appears to be arising as a result of the secrecy surrounding the Joint Working Group.

Cllr Matthew Lee urged the Chief Constable to go further explaining in public how many PCs and PCSOs would need to be cut if the G4S option was not taken. The public didn’t respond well to this, saying he was encouraging scaremongering. The Chief did as asked though and said he would reduce recruitment and cancel the proposed Spring 2013 new constable intake if savings had not been made. Cllr Lee asked for the Chief Constable to produce a paper explaining this in advance of the Police and Crime Commissioner elections, and to also detail the Chief’s view on the precept.

The Chief Constable said he would be prepared to have such discussions in private with candidates, but he thought the Chief Executive of the Police Authority and the Returning Officer might advise him the Representation of the People Act prevented him from making public statements. He said he was concerned that such a paper might be seen as his “manifesto as chief”.

Shona Johnstone

Cllr Johnstone started by saying: “I agree with a lot of what’s been said”. She asked for clarification of what Bedfordshire Police Authority had decided.

The meeting was told Bedfordshire Police Authority had decided to

  • produce a full business case for comprehensive outsourcing to G4S in a three force collaboration.
  • leave the final decision to the incoming Police and Crime Commissioner.
  • ask their Chief Constable to work on a “plan B”.

The Chief Executive of Cambridge Police Authority, who serves as the committee’s clerk, and who is paid ~£100K/year didn’t have a copy of the resolution as passed; the Chief Constable however was better prepared, he did.

Cllr Johnstone said she, as Cllr Wilkins had done, supported trying to seek a plan B involving the three forces working together and urged “more haste less speed”.

The Chief Constable spoke to say that when he had spoken about cancelling recruitment he was not making a threat but reporting “economic fact”. The Chief said the chancellor had announced a further £15bn to be taken out of public spending which was yet to be allocated.

A Police Authority member addressed as “JP”, probably “John Pye”, asked if information on the potential option for a precept rise following the election of a Police and Crime Commissioner could be made public. The Chief Executive of the authority said that two Finance and Resources committees planned for September and October 2012 would be used to get such material out into the public domain.

Cllr Lucas asked if the force or authority was consulting the public now to find out what their views on a precept rise were so this information could be put to a newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner.

The Chief Constable said he hoped that discussion would be one candidates had with the public during the election.

The chair had said Cllr Lucas was the last speaker (unelected member Olive Main made no contribution to the debate), when his question had been answered, Cllr Wilkins formally moved an amendment to the motion under debate asking for option 3b (three force collaboration, not involving wholesale privatisation) also be worked up as a “plan B”. The Chair, Ruth Rogers, declared she would not accept the amendment, ruling it could not be taken forward because Hertfordshire Police Authority were only looking at the G4S option. Member Ansar Ali said he agreed with the chair.

There followed some discussion on exactly what the authority wanted to vote on, with no one other than Cllr Wilkins actually putting forward any amendments.

Cllr Lee suggested taking a vote on the unammended motion, but Chair Rodgers, ruled against that proposal too.

Eventually the chair proposed taking the motion which had been approved at Bedfordshire Police Authority, localising it by substituting Bedfordshire for Cambridgeshire and voting on that. A vote was held to amend the motion under discussion to the one passed by Bedfordshire (this hadn’t been written down and circulated). Prior to the vote being held though they appeared to amend it slightly by saying the reports should be presented when they are ready, to the Police Authority or Commissioner whoever is in charge at the time. The vote on the amendment was 11 for, 0 against and 0 abstentions, with Cllr Lee not voting. Cllr Lee, who had wanted to vote on the unamended motion was in a strop and refused to put his hand up when the chair called for those abstaining to raise their hands (an odd thing for the chair to have done in any case).

The amended motion was then put to a vote with all members present except Cllr Wilkins who abstained, voting for it.

Other Agenda Items

Member Olive Main suggested the meeting be adjourned given the importance of the remaining agenda items and the fact many members had gone, she said she had somewhere else to be.

The chair ruled the meeting would continue.

There were only two of us in the public seating at the start of this part of the meeting, and I was the only one left by the end.

Performance Statistics

The first item which prompted any discussion was call handling. The Chief Officers said performance still wasn’t as good as it should be, but there had been some improvements. The data requested by the authority on how long people had been waiting for their calls to be answered was not provided.

The Deputy Chief Constable said he had provided a paper with up to date statistics to the authority but it had not made the meeting papers, he asked for it to be placed on the authority’s website, he said this showed the latest March 2012 999 answering figures showed 94.9% within the [10 second] answering target.

The Deputy Chief Constable then said an area for concern had been the “secondary wait time” (for which I don’t think statistics were provided). This is the wait people have when transferred from the person who answers the phone, to someone who records details of a crime; he said in the past this had been 6-8 minutes but was now just 2.25 minutes.

The DCC said the average 101 wait time was now just 12 seconds, but 10% of calls where being abandoned during the secondary wait for someone to record details.

A member asked if the force was looking at getting better information to those waiting – the DCC said “yes”.

Benjamyn Damazer asked about the reliability of the police statistics on crime reporting, and if they even actually reflected what was being reported to the police. The DCC responded to say there had recently been an external audit on this exact point in which the force had maintained its “excellent” grading.

An authority member noted that many commercial “Blackberry” phones could not dial numbers starting with “1″, so couldn’t dial “101″. The DCC said he was aware of this, and on a national basis the police were feeding this back to the phone companies.

“JP”, presumably the unelected John Pye said he had been reading about lags between crime statistics and public perception of the police. He asked why in Cambridgeshire positive perceptions of the police were down, yet crime levels were also down. He asked if surveyors asked people why they were not confident in the police. The Chief Officers said they didn’t know, but were trying to find out.

Chief Constable’s Annual Report

This was passed without comment by members.

Summary Accounts

With the full accounts considered too complex for them the authority considered a summary document.

The authority’s treasurer was not present, without apologies or explanation. Perhaps it’s a good job he didn’t turn up, he’d probably send us a bill for his attendance.

The only question asked was “Is spending on vehicles really down to £200K”. The answer given was: “Yes”.

Cllr Wilkins interjected saying this would probably mean it would go up next year.

Members John Batchelor said Cllr Lee had said something about the level of reserves that Cllr Lee denied having said. I think both question the need for £26m of reserves.

Items From Committee Papers

Taming Response Officers

The Chief Constable reported that ex-response officers were getting training in how to cope with a new style of policing. (The division between response and neighbourhood officers has been eliminated, something I think is excellent)


Cllr Lucas said he’d seen press reports about police officers getting a shock from a TASER as they were holding onto someone being TASERed. The Chief Constable said: “Did that happen in Cambridgeshire?”, Cllr Lucas said it didn’t but he thought it was worth raising. The Chief Constable said that due to the funny nature of the incident he expected news would get round rapidly, he said that incidents such as that, and with problems with equipment, were formally shared between forces, and said an issue with a faulty trigger on a gun had been recently circulated.

Police Powers for Bouncers, Security Guards Etc.

Cllr Wilkins referred to the public question I had asked in person, and asked the Chief Officers to answer it. He said it was right that the political leadership at Cambridge City Council did not support giving police powers to security guards etc. Cllr Willkins said they even objected to the trial at Addenbrookes, that was not something I was previously aware of.

The Chief and Deputy Chief Constable responded. They said the force was responding to requests for such powers to be handed out and wasn’t pro-actively marketing the scheme. The Chiefs said that they made a decision on each case on a case by case basis; they gave an assurance that they do already consult local authorities, but the Chief Constable said he would do it better, and raise it at the next “Leaders and Chief Officers’ meeting”.

Cameras, tickets and collisions

The authority was told a decision on this was no longer required, but they were asked to delegate something to someone.

Inspectorate of Constabulary Reports

These were noted without any substantive discussion.

Meeting Closed

Those agenda items taken after the item on operational support privatisation were all taken at very high speed, with little debate, and short, often one word, answers to members’ questions from chief officers.

After the meeting closed the Chief Constable asked members to be careful not to leave their confidential papers with financial details of the G4S proposal lying around. Member Benjamyn Damazer noted he had no such problem because he has a standing request that no such confidential papers be provided to him.

No Overt G4S Presence

I note no representative of G4S identified themselves as being present; there was certainly no presentation from the company, which one might have expected.

9 comments/updates on “G4S Running Cambridgeshire Police Back Office Discussed by Police Authority

  1. Timothy Haire

    John Pye is indeed known as JP, at least to the extent that it was included on his CV when we shortlisted for the Tory P and C C.

  2. Richard Taylor Article author

    You’ve shortlisted someone who barely contributes to Police Authority meetings. I don’t want a quiet man who doesn’t express his views as Police Commissioner.

  3. Dave

    Why does the chief constable constantly refer to £77M as the potential savings realisable? Firstly, this figure relates to the spend by the combined constabularies so, in effect, Cambs will contribute to “savings” needed by the other two forces – is this reasonable? Secondly, doe the chief not realise that if £77M is shaved off the budget then the govt will simply reduce the grant to the constabularies by the same amount? Net savings = 0.

  4. Richard Taylor Article author

    The £77m figure is the total budgeted spend on back office (operational support) by all three forces (Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire) in 2012-2013.

    Clearly any savings will be a fraction of this figure; the financial papers were not made public so we don’t know what G4S were offering, if indeed they have made an indicative offer of what they would be prepared to provide a service for.

  5. Richard Taylor Article author

    Cllr Wilkins has written to me to say:

    I did, very definitely, vote *against* the (amended) proposal, because I did not wish to see an option (i.e. option 5a outsourcing) the real benefits of which I am, at best, profoundly sceptical be the preferred (i.e. only likely) option.

    I had proposed and voted for the amendment to include the working up of an option B because it was clearly better to do this than to allow the original wording (as printed on the papers) to be passed.

    While something of an improvement, that was not however good enough for me and so I then voted against.

    Both votes were rather a shambles; the second final vote saw Cllr Wilkins have to prompt the chair to actually have a hands up vote and call for “any against” she would otherwise apparently have been happy with simply nodding it through.

    Cllr Wilkins certainly didn’t vote for the proposal. And certainly following those in favour raising their hands he raised his own hand and asked for those against to be counted, the chair responded to say “those against” but by then Cllr Wilkins’ hand was down.

    My interpretation was on balance it looked like an abstention, but it wasn’t clear to me. I’ll update my article so it notes simply Cllr Wilkins did not vote in favour of the final motion.

    It wasn’t a recorded vote so the minutes won’t (if they are produced in the usual manner) make it clear which way Cllr Wilkins voted, however as he was the only one not voting for it should indicate if, in the view of the authority’s highly paid clerk, the remaining member voted against or abstained.

    I volunteered to video the proceedings but the chair refused, otherwise I would have been able to check the footage.

    Members of the public present described the meeting, and particularly the voting as a farce, with one saying he’d observed better run scout meetings.

  6. Dave


    What strikes me as odd in the finances of the constabulary, from several foi requests, is that they never know what they are spending. Whatever cost you ask them to find, they refuse saying that it would take 1,000s of hours to locate the info because all they’ve got is a big box of invoices and they need to read them all. If you don’t know what you are spending, how can you hope to properly identify potential for savings?

  7. Richard Taylor Article author

    Ed Murphy the Labour candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner in Cambridgeshire has written to me in relation to this article.

    He says he was the person, identified above as: “Ed”, who asked the solitary follow-up question, asking for the decision to be made in public.

    In his email to me Ed Murphy notes he has tried to correspond with members of the Police Authority as individuals but the authority’s chair has responded on their behalf. He says he has complained about the inability to contact members as individuals. This is a point I raised in my article following the appointment of unelected appointee Ruth Joyce, as member with responsibility for Cambridge.

    Mr Murphy has said he thinks I may have a lot of knowledge which would benefit him, and has asked to meet.

    I note I was the only member of the public present during the latter stages of the meeting, so Mr Murphy did not stay to the end.

  8. Dave

    In light of yesterdays developments in relation to the G4S ‘unexpectedly’ falling short of expectations and the subsequent decision by the Surrey Chief Constable; do you feel Cambridgeshire should continue down this path? It rather feels as if the wheels are coming off the wagon somewhat!

  9. Richard Taylor Article author

    I never thought wholesale privatisation to G4S (or any other company) was the right route to take, as I made clear in the “my view” section of the article above.

    The developments yesterday might well have an impact on the race to become Conservative candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner though, as both Shona Johnstone and John Pye voted in favour of working up the full business case for wholesale privatisation to G4S.

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