08:07 Wednesday 30th January 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
[P]AUL STAINTON: Cambridgeshire Police along with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire have now decided to pull the plug on a scheme to privatise some of their services through G4S, that private security company. The Police and Crime Commissioners from all three counties met yesterday afternoon to make that final decision. The plan had been to join with Lincolnshire Police as part of outsourcing plans with G4S, that company that failed spectacularly of course to provide sufficient security for the Olympics. Well Ansar Ali ran in the Police Commissioner election. He welcomed the news, but said he was surprised the Commissioner was even considering it in the first place. (TAPE)
ANSAR ALI: I welcome this decision. During the election campaign I said quite forcefully that G4S wasn’t the right route for delivery of policing services in Cambridgeshire. It would be a disaster for the people of Cambridgeshire, and I’m very very pleased that the three Police Commissioners made this decision. (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: Well I’m pleased to say the Police Commissioner for Cambridgeshire Sir Graham Bright joins us now. Morning Graham.
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: Good morning to you.
PAUL STAINTON: A bit of an eleventh hour decision. What’s wrong with G4S? Why not?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: Well it wasn’t an eleventh hour decision really. We had to make a decision on this, and remembering that the three Commissioners didn’t come in to force until the back end of November, we did set up a study on where we’d got to, and what it meant, and the decision was made by the three of us, but also the three Chief Constables, and it was very much a business decision. And when it came to looking at it very carefully, it didn’t really fit in with the three counties.
PAUL STAINTON: In what way Graham?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: Well because of the way in which we run ourselves. It’s been interesting in the way in which the three have come together in a number of ways. But to come into this, it brought in another county that had already set up and were already going. And we feel that we need to look again at this. None of us are against outsourcing. None of us are against sharing between each other, or indeed other counties. That said, it’s got to be done piece by piece. This was a contract .. there was an overall thing that was a huge contract, and it was an umbrella contract that covered everything. And I was never sure that you should ever do that with one company, because of the complexity of the three of us. And we’re pushing ahead. We made a decision last night. I chaired the meeting. And we made a decision that we would stop right now, and then we’d go back and we’re starting immediately to look at alternatives. Because obviously we’ve got to save money. We intend to save money. And we want to share services between ourselves, possibly other counties, and possibly bring in a number of outsiders to take up parts of the organisation.
PAUL STAINTON: Now your budget has to be decided by the end of the week. Has this blown it out of the water?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: No not at all.
PAUL STAINTON: You mentioned you’re going to be consulting about doing other things. Is this going to be something of a rush job?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: Not at all. We’ve already submitted the budget. I could see this coming, and so we made provision for that. The budget stands as it is, but what we have to do now is to go on and make further savings, which we will be working on during the course of the year.
PAUL STAINTON: Do we get a chance to have a look at that budget? Do we get a chance to consult on it? Should we have a say on it?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: Well the budget’s (all?) being published. The Police and Crime Committee will look at it, and will question us about the whole thing. It’s a procedure. We’ve stuck to the rules as far as that goes. Yes.
PAUL STAINTON: What is in the budget then? Have you ring fenced PCSO funding?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: No. You’ll have to wait and see when the budget is published. But the bottom line is, and it’s already out, is that we are making a small increase in the precept, and we are ..
PAUL STAINTON: You say small.
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: .. we are budgeting to have an additional ten police officers.
PAUL STAINTON: You say small Graham, increases .. 1.9% increase, and many people unhappy about that this morning. You’ve put it up the maximum that you’re allowed to. You promised not to be a burden on the taxpayer when you ran. You’re being a burden Graham.
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: No we’re not being a burden at all. we haven’t .. we’re below inflation. It was already in the Police Plan, the Plan that I took over from the old Police Authority.
PAUL STAINTON: But you’re in charge now Graham. You could have changed that.
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: That appeared before June 15th. But the one thing people wanted me to do was to protect the police force. And I was quite adamant that we did not want to reduce the number of policemen. Now the alternative was to do just that. What we’re actually doing is bringing it up by ten. The alternative would have been reducing it by at least 27, probably even more. And that wasn’t what I was elected to do. I was elected to protect the police, and ensure we had adequate policing in Cambridgeshire. Already Cambridgeshire is second lowest in terms of numbers of police per head of population. So we’re running on a tightrope really on this ..
PAUL STAINTON: So this rise will ..
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: .. below it.
PAUL STAINTON: So this rise will protect police officers.
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: Absolutely.
PAUL STAINTON: Will it also protect police stations? Will there be any police stations closing?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: Well that’s .. the whole thing got to be looked at. I think the important thing we have to do ..
PAUL STAINTON: Well yes or no Graham. Are we going to close police stations? Is Histon Police Station going to close or not?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: Look, there’s no decisions been made on that. What we’re concerned about is having policemen on the ground, on the streets. That’s what people want. And that is what we’re giving them.
PAUL STAINTON: How much would a collaboration with G4S have saved us? How many officers would that have funded?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: Over a period of time, there would have been a saving. It was something like £3.2 million over the four year period.
PAUL STAINTON: Well something like .. Was it £3.2 million or ..
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: Well you can’t put a specific figure on it. That was what it was estimated to be. Ok? Until these things work you never know.
PAUL STAINTON: And where are you going to find that then?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: Well we’ve already made considerable savings in the force by reorganising. And we will continue to look at reorganisation. But what we will be doing now is looking for further savings within the three of us which can be done, no question about that, in order that we can address the fact that we, each year, are getting a reduction from the Government. Don’t forget that. There’s a reduction every single year now from the Government which we have to make up. So we’re paddling hard under the water to keep ourselves floating. And we’ll do it. I’m quite confident of that.
PAUL STAINTON: Are you going to be able to guarantee police numbers though? By what you’ve just said, are you going to be able to guarantee police numbers going forward during your term?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: I’m looking for sustainability. Definitely. That’s what it’s all about. Because, you know, if you’re going to constantly leech away at the number of policemen you’ve got, it damages morale. And that damages the force. And obviously it upsets the public as well. They lose confidence. So the idea is yes, everything possible that I can do will sustain the number of policemen we have on the front line.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. You say the budget’s been decided. I’m slightly confused, because you say you’re still looking for further savings. Is that this year, or ..
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: No no no no no no. I didn’t say that.. (INCOHERENT) ..yes, for this year. But it’s an ongoing thing.
PAUL STAINTON: Right.
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: We’re already looking at next year, and the year after.
PAUL STAINTON: I understand now.
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: Yes. (LAUGHS)
PAUL STAINTON: I understand that. When can we see the budget Graham?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: The budget is about to be published. I’m not sure. It’s now .. I’ve signed it off, and it goes to the Police and Crime Committee, and they have to scrutinise it. So it’s a recommendation that goes to them. They can question us, and they can ask their things, and want us to look again. But as it it’s published. And I think it’s about to go on a website.
PAUL STAINTON: Ok. Graham thinks it’s about to go on the website, and we’ll have a look a little bit later, and we’ll hopefully find it.
Note: a link to the latest Budget proposals can be found on the right hand side of this page.