Anthony Stansfeld’s questions to answer on police privatisation

Anthony Stansfeld, Conservative candidate for Thames Valley police & crime commissioner, has questions to answer about future of private security firms like G4S in policing.

UPDATE: This post has been somewhat amended, following the revelation of @TVPCC as a fake account. Some sections and quotes have been removed at perfectly reasonable request, being as they were from an imposter.

So with both the Conservatives and Labour having selected their candidates for the Police & Crime Commissioner elections in the Thames Valley in November, the political contest is starting to heat up. So it was with great interest yesterday that I noticed a piece on the Wokingham Times website yesterday entitled “Police inspector warns over staff cuts“.

The article centres around a number of comments from one Greg Elphick, who is apparently “Wokingham Neighbourhood Team Inspector”. I don’t know Inspector Elphick personally, nor have I ever previously encountered him in any way (to the best of my knowledge). But what he says about the future of policing is very interesting.

Speaking about the cuts to police budgets, Inspector Elphick said:

The impact is in the support departments. Administration is taking longer to be processed and functions dealt with by backroom staff could now be done by frontline officers who are supposed to be out on the street…to say frontline services are not going to be affected is not the whole story.

Which is a diplomatic way of putting it. I would have described claims that the front line would remain untouched as utter nonsense. I don’t know where this idea comes from, that police officers are “lone rangers”, so to speak. It seems counter-intuitive to think that the civilian back office staff — such as those answering 999 calls — are not just as important to the process as the officers who turn up at the scene.

Now, given that private security firm G4S have made an utter mess of Olympic security this week, there is a certain pertinence here. If budgets are being cut, might not a desperate Conservative PCC turn to a private security fund to bolster “frontline” police numbers on the cheap? A worrying concept, and one which had been considered by some police forces. Thankfully, some seem miraculously to have seen the light and shelved the plans in the last week. I can’t think why.

But bad ideas tend to die hard, and with the Conservatives having no ideas besides austerity at the moment, I expect it will return. So there’s an interest in knowing what a potential PCC for the Thames Valley post-November thinks of it all. Biting the bullet, iasked directly. Twice. (It gets a little complicated, as there are two Twitter accounts battling it out for “official” Anthony Stansfeld status. Watch this space for updates on that little piece of social media theatre).

I’ve still had no answer. I’m going to start pressing harder on this matter in the next week or so, but am hampered by the lack of anything that even resembles an organised Conservative campaign yet. It’s also worth highlighting that I’m not the only one who has been asking:

Tim has already said that he would aim to restore police numbers to 2010 levels, through a modest precept increase in the region of £4 per year for band D properties. £4 more per year doesn’t seem a great deal to keep policing up to standard, and avoid seeing an Olympics style G4S fiasco across the Thames Valley.

So what say you, Cllr Stansfeld?

UPDATE: One interesting development already this morning; the Twitter account @TVPCC has been suspended. So I guess that leaves @StansfeldPCC as the winner of the “Stansfeld Wars”. So these questions fall to him then.


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