Friday, 30 July 2010

Privatising the police in Brighton?

I've just had a remarkable call from local rag the Argus suggesting that one idea identified by senior officers for overcoming the massive cuts faced by Sussex Police might be to get local businesses to sponsor PCSOs and even police officers directly.

Seriously: it has been mooted that companies with spare cash, and even wealthy individuals, could pay for police officers to patrol outside their businesses.

I can hardly think of a worse idea if I try, really: the police officer concerned would hardly be likely to arrest their sponsor for crinimal behaviour now, and those of us without the cash to buy our own privatised police would just have to wait our turn for a response if we became the victim of a crime.

It wouldn't just be raising the spectre of privatising the police - it would be doing it, wholesale.

Decisions would be taken by sponsors, for the benefit of themselves, their employees and their customers, rather than for those in their neighbourhood, let alone society at large. (Sound familiar - isn't this the principle behind academy schools?)

The richest would, effectiveley, buy immmunity from future police investigation - and their own private police force all at once.

I hope it never comes to this - but, actually, the idea of replacing comprehensive schools with privately-owned academies has support of Labour, Tory and Lib-Dem MPs and councillors. We Greens opposed that, and we'll oppose privatising the police too.

But if we remain a lone voice you can expect to see more police in wealthy neighbourhoods, and less in areas suffering deprivation, sooner than you think.

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