Watchdog calls for power to scrutinise privatised police
originally by: The Guardian
published: 21 April 2012
The police watchdog has aired its growing frustration over the Home Office’s failure to close a loophole that allows privately contracted officers to escape investigation.
Despite apparent government support for outsourcing of policing duties, ministers have shied away from introducing measures to make all private staff in the sector independently accountable.
Last month private firms were invited to take over some of the responsibilities of the West Midlands and Surrey police forces, including investigating crimes, managing intelligence, patrolling neighbourhoods and collecting CCTV footage.
More than 60 private firms attended the “bidders’ conference” for contracts with the two English forces, with critics raising questions about the suitability of some companies showing interest.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission – responsible for investigating deaths in custody, public complaints and allegations of wrongdoing – wants the power to investigate all staff who carry out police duties in a move to preserve public confidence in the service. At the moment the IPCC has no automatic power to interview or discipline private staff, even if misconduct or individual failures contribute to a death.
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