My story on police privatisation made the front page of the Sunday Times this weekend.
Since hundreds of experienced police officers were forced to retire under regulation A19 in 2010/11, there has been a boom in demand for so-called ‘civilian investigators’ in the police.
They are not warranted cops, and as such are not able to make arrests, and they are usually private contractors to the police hired via an agency like Adecco or G4S.
Home Secretary Teresa May has always insisted that “core police functions” will always be done by officers, but the adverts I found online suggested that these boundaries are being pushed further than ever before.
G4S is advertising for ‘senior investigating officers’ (SIOs), a role in the police force that describes the officer heading up a major inquiry into crimes like murder, kidnapping or rape. A handbook by the Association of Chief Police Officers describes the role of SIO in a homicide investigation as “potentially one of the most complex and challenging positions within the Police Service”.
G4S confirmed it had been asked to place the adverts, but declined to identify the force(s) or how many of the 29,000 ‘police-skilled’ individuals on its books had applied.
The Home Office argues that police forces may make savings by hiring in experienced staff only temporarily, but most staff hired in this way (who will be private contractors, who have their pay/contracts organised by G4S) will be former policemen, already in receipt of a police pension.
A former superintendent who was forced to step down after 30 years’ service will be in receipt of around £40,000 a year in pension payments.
Full text is available on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold:
G4S staff to help solve murders
POLICE forces are hiring senior staff from the private security giant G4S to help run investigations including murder inquiries in the most significant privatisation yet of frontline jobs.
G4S, the company behind the Olympics security fiasco, has placed advertisements for civilian “senior investigating officers” to work with police forces around Britain. The jobs, paying rates worth more than £60,000 a year, require hired staff to act as “focal points” in murder and serious crimes, according to the adverts seen by The Sunday Times.
Applicants are expected to have experience managing homicide or serious crime investigations up to the rank of detective chief inspector in the past four years. Senior investigating officers are expected to head up serious crime inquiries, leading a team of officers conducting interviews, door-to-door inquiries and forensic tests.
The move, a significant expansion of the role of private contractors in the police, has raised concerns from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which investigates complaints against the police. Dame Anne Owers, its chairwoman, said: “At present, contracted-out staff are under no obligation to co-operate with IPCC investigations. We believe that this oversight reduces public confidence as it clearly can affect our ability to carry out thorough investigations.”
Shadow policing minister David Hanson said: “These adverts make clear that this government is allowing a privatisation of senior frontline roles in our police despite assurances to the contrary.
“With private contractors outside the reach of the IPCC this potentially seriously undermines accountability and gives no procedures to stop private companies abusing their power.”
G4S faced criticism from the government and MPs last summer when up to 3,500 extra troops had to be deployed at the Olympics because the firm had failed to provide enough adequately trained security staff.
There is, however, increasing demand for civilian investigators as police funding is cut by 20%, with many experienced officers forced to retire. Police numbers have fallen by 11,500 since the coalition came to power in May 2010.
G4S, which is headed by Nick Buckles, is advertising for senior investigating officers at up to £30 an hour, equivalent to about £62,500 a year. Other jobs include a child abuse investigator to work with Essex police’s specialist unit in Laindon, near Basildon, and for an intelligence co-ordinator in Hertfordshire. Yesterday it emerged that civilian investigators are being recruited to the Jimmy Savile sex abuse inquiry.
Successful applicants are individually contracted to the police forces, although G4S negotiates their contracts, accepts their timesheets and co-ordinates payments. The Home Office said only police officers were allowed to make arrests, and no one without a warrant would be able to lead a murder inquiry before an arrest had taken place.
Civilians are, however, able to run some investigations after this point, as happens in Greater Manchester, where Andy Tattersall, a retired police officer, runs a civilian squad investigating “category C” murders. The Home Office said: “We support police and crime commissioners and forces considering whether the private sector can help achieve savings and better services.”
Errors made by a civilian investigator working for Nottinghamshire police were critical in the collapse of a case against 20 environmental activists accused of conspiring to shut down the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in 2009.
Inquiries by The Sunday Times found the Avon and Somerset, Warwickshire, South Yorkshire, Metropolitan and Hertfordshire forces are among those to have used agency staff to man investigations.
The Home Office said it would legislate to extend the IPCC’s powers to cover civilian investigators “as soon as parliamentary time allows”.
Additional reporting by Imogen Blake