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West Midlands police commissioner to axe private business plan

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The new police commissioner for the West Midlands has vowed to scrap controversial plans that would see private companies run some of the force's departments, it emerged today.

Bob Jones said putting a stop to the Business Partnering for Police programme would be his first task when he takes up office on Thursday.

Speaking to the Express & Star after being elected, Labour and Wolverhampton councillor Mr Jones explained he also wanted to form police and crime boards throughout the region to give communities the chance to set policing priorities in the areas they live.

Force chief constable Chris Sims and his senior officers had shortlisted a number of private companies suitable for carrying out work – such as guarding crime scenes and collecting CCTV – on behalf of the police.

But Mr Jones said: "We've wasted enough money on it already and I think we need to stop wasting any further money."

He said the total cost of the process for the West Midlands, the Home Office and Surrey Police, which was signed up to the scheme but has since pulled out, was about £5million.

"I don't think we've spent all that at the moment but clearly the sooner we can stop it, the more of our proportion we can save," he added.

Asked if he believed the decision would put him on a collision course with Mr Sims, Mr Jones added: "We've had a long-standing working relationship based on mutual respect and clearly, the role of the PCC is to be a critical friend. There are times to be friendly and there are times to be critical."

Mr Jones, who beat Tory Matt Bennett to the £100,000-a-year job, said he would hope to form a task force to look at the technical needs of the force.

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He added: "I'm confident the chief constable's motivation is to try and get better technology that can support police officers and staff, and I think that can be done without the need to transfer police officers and police staff to be under the control of private managers and private shareholders."

Mr Jones also vowed to fight for fairer funding for West Midlands Police, which is having to make £126m in savings over the next three years.

  • See also - Winners in Midlands police commissioners poll are named

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