CBI bangs drum for behind-scenes private sector roles to help police get officers back on beat

The police should consider outsourcing more of its back office tasks to the private sector to help get more officers back onto the beat, according to the CBI.

A report by the business lobby group claims thousands of officers could be freed up to police the streets if forces used private sector expertise to streamline their administration and support services.

Better Policing Through Partnership concludes that in custody services alone, using new providers to undertake specialist tasks could enable more than 4,000 police officers across England and Wales to be in the community rather than behind desks dealing with paperwork.

It shows that police forces that have already created partnerships with independent providers are operating more effectively and giving better support to police on the frontline.

One partnership between the private sector and Thames Valley Police to provide custody management has enabled 133 police officers to move back to the frontline, the study says.

The report calls for the removal of legislative barriers that prevent the ‘civilianisation’ of duties, where trained staff undertake functions previously restricted to police officers.

Other functions that the report says could be better managed by the private sector include offender transportation, database management, IT services, custody suite management and security services.

Neil Bentley, CBI director of public services, said the public wanted a more visible street presence and a more responsive service.

“Outside providers of back-office functions can free up the time of highly trained police officers, which means more bobbies on the beat and fewer officers shackled to the station dealing with time-consuming, routine tasks,” he said. “The civilianisation of services, such as custody management and prisoner escort, aren’t a threat to jobs but rather an opportunity for police officers to focus on what they signed up to do: fight crime and make our communities safer.”

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