The Times has done a service in prominently highlighting, more than once, the dangers of private companies being directly involved in policing. The Police Federation are often reactionary, but they are right to warn of "the dangers of privatising core police functions." Sean O'Neill is wrong to describe David Cameron driving "a radical police reform agenda." The Coalition's police accountability reforms are a con. The elected Police and Crime Commissioner will inherit the same police authority apparatus, be governed by almost exactly the same regulations (with some genuine liberalisation), and be scrutinised (sensibly so) by a mini-police authority, the police and crime panel. Theresa May meanwhile is repeating the constitutional mistake of Labour in setting up the National Crime Agency before it has been legislated for (as Labour did with SOCA), it seems just because the Tories said they would replace SOCA rather than for any genuine policing reason. Police and Crime Commissioners may give the public a genuine figurehead, just as contracting out may improve services and value for money. On the other hand if single party politicians are put in charge of policing then impartial policing may be jeopardised. O'Neill is definitely right that "the future looks very confusing".
Lecturer in Police Powers.
3 May 2012.