In the Media

Met chief: only police officers should investigate crime

PUBLISHED April 5, 2012

Two police forces, West Midlands Police and Surrey, have invited bids from private security companies to take over the delivery of services which could include "investigating crimes", "detaining suspects" and "patrolling neighbourhoods".

On Wednesday, during a question and answer session on the Metropolitan Police website, the Scotland Yard commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe appeared to voice concern over the proposals.

He said: "I believe that patrolling and investigating are vital police functions that should be carried out by police officers. It's a very serious to issue to deprive someone of their liberty and place them before a court. For me that must be carried out by warranted officers."

Mr Hogan-Howe was responding to a question by a would-be police recruit who said he was worried about privatisation.

The commissioner appeared to suggest that private companies should be allowed to carry out only limited "back office functions".

He said: "I think business can help us to improve our efficiency and effectiveness in some areas to provide support such as managing our fleet and our back office functions."

The commissioner was asked a second question which specifically referred to the West Midlands and Surrey proposal, which is believed to have been backed by the Home Office.

He responded: "In an earlier question I made clear that my determination that patrolling and investigation should be the sole duty of the public police and no one else."

Privatisation of the police service has long been a contentious issue. In February it was revealed that G4S has won a £200m contract to build and run a police station on behalf of Lincolnshire police.

And last year the Daily Telegraph reported that hundreds of police officers were being funded by schools, shopping centres and other private companies to carry out specific policing tasks.