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Sections of the UK’s police force could soon be run by private companies, The Telegraph reports.West Midlands and Surrey have invited bids from major security companies on behalf of all forces across England and Wales. The services these privatized forces would perform include everything from investigating crimes, patrolling neighborhoods, supporting victims and witnesses, managing forensics, and even detaining suspects, among other things.
The contract is the largest on police privatization so far, with a potential value of £1.5 billion ($2.4 billion) over seven years, possibly increasing to £3.5 billion ($5.5 billion) if more forces jump on the bandwagon. Lincolnshire has already contracted out part of its force to security company G4S, according to the Guardian.
There are worries that privatization would make the police less accountable to the public. But given the current financial situation of the UK government, succinctly summed up by Chancellor George Osborne this week, turning to the private sector may be a way to keep services up and running while reducing government spending.
The police force is just the latest in a line of services that the government is attempting to turn over to private firms. Nine prisons and interpretation services in English and Welsh courts have already been hit.
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