A caution for police privatisation

The decision by West Midlands and Surrey Police in March to invite bids for private companies to take over delivery of critical police services has provoked a strong reaction; Labour Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has said that it raises “very serious concerns”, while the Police Federation describe the plan as “a very dangerous road to take”. A ComRes poll on behalf of UNISON last week has shown that the public too are far from convinced by the plan.

Despite the potential cost savings, we found that more than half of the public (62%) oppose the idea of involving private companies in policing in their local area.

To what extent do you support or oppose allowing private companies to run policing services in your local area?

Support strongly

4%

Tend to support

20%

Tend to oppose

26%

Oppose strongly

35%

Don't know

14%

Net: Support

24%

Net: Oppose

62%


Further results revealed some of the reasons behind this opposition. If private companies were involved in the delivery of police services, many people say that they would trust the police less, and that they would feel less safe.

If some of your local police force’s services were being run by a private company, would you trust your local police force more, less, or would it make no difference to you?

Trust a great deal more

2%

Trust a fair amount more

7%

It would make no difference to me

34%

Trust a fair amount less

25%

Trust a great deal less

25%

Don't know

7%

Net: Trust more

9%

Net: Trust less

50%


If a private company was answering 999 calls in your area, would you feel more or less safe, or would it make no difference to you?

A great deal more safe

1%

A fair amount more safe

2%

It would make no difference to me

37%

A fair amount less safe

29%

A great deal less safe

24%

Don't know

7%

Net: More safe

4%

Net: Less safe

53%


In other areas too, many people expect that involving private companies will worsen the service they receive. Nearly half believe that standards of service to the public (46%), accountability of the police force to the British public (46%) and security and confidentiality of police records (52%) will worsen as a result of involving private companies.

While similar opposition has not prevented growing privatisation in other areas of public service delivery, many will be watching the West Midlands and Surrey Police process closely. Exceeding the public’s low expectations could be critical to maintaining the momentum for change.

ComRes interviewed 2,006 GB adults online from 8th to 10th June 2012.  Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults.  ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.



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