Privatisation fears over private security guarding major crime scenes in Dorset (From Bournemouth Echo)
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Privatisation fears over private security guarding major crime scenes in Dorset
PLANS for private security to guard crime scenes could hamper police evidence gathering and community relations, according to Dorset Police Federation.
On Monday Dorset Police announced that scenes of major crimes such as murders and serious assaults would be guarded by Securitas during a four month trial, and permanently from 2014 if deemed successful.
The force claims the move will restore between 2,600 and 3,600 police hours to front-line services.
However federation chairman Clive Chamberlain said “privatisation” could do great damage to Dorset Police.
“Freeing police officers up to do other things sounds good, but we are losing 500 officers anyway,” he said.
“I'd like to know how much of the money saved through job cuts will pay this private security firm. Policing should be about people rather than profits.”
Mr Chamberlain said he was concerned about whether private staff, lacking the powers of police officers, could keep crime scenes secure.
“As well as the cost, it is not clear how long it will take them to get to crime scenes, or what they will do if someone crosses the line,” he said.
“It is not unknown for suspects to re-visit crime scenes, what will they do then?
“Also, monitoring crime scenes is a great opportunity for police officers to interact with the public.
“This can be very useful for getting information and improving relations between officers and the public.”
He said he feared a future where police officers might be regarded just as “enforcers”, with public interaction handled by PCSOs and private security staff.
“Police officers are accountable to the public, whereas private staff are only accountable to their shareholders,” he added.
On Monday, Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Cooper, Head of Dorset Police Criminal Justice Department, said outsourcing had been tried by other police forces for a number of years and found to be a “very effective” way of securing evidence.
“Specially trained scene officers will be able to perform this task to a high standard and release police officers back to the front line to perform other essential tasks,” he said.
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