Palestine solidarity supporters protest against preferred bidder G4S for the BPP contract outside Lloyd House, HQ for West Midlands Police
Over 20 supporters of Palestinian rights joined the lobby of West Midlands Police Authority (WMPA) on Thursday 12th July 2012 to protest against G4S, one of the companies bidding to run policing services due its support for Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine in breach of international law.
In the West Midlands G4S is on a shortlist of 6 companies bidding for the privatisation of Policing services. The Business Partnering for Policing programme is a lucrative £1.5bn contract to privatise a wide range of policing services, including core police functions such as crime investigation and custody.
Prior to the meeting West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign wrote to Bishop Webley, Chair of the Police Authority asking WMPA to remove G4S from its preferred list of bidders for the Business Partnering for Policing contract and setting out the details of G4S complicity with the occupation.
WMPSC has joined with West Midlands against Policing for Profit to campaign against the human rights records of the companies shortlisted for the contract. The campaign made a number of interventions up to and during the Police Authority meeting.
The morning opened with the publication of a letter by public figures in The Guardian and The Birmingham Post questioning ‘ whether these companies are fit to provide police services to the highly diverse communities of the West Midlands.’
At the beginning of the meeting members of the campaign repeatedly challenged Bishop Webley over the exclusion of public questions relating to the human rights records of the shortlisted companies for the BPP. The questions cite Court judgements against G4S and Serco and ask whether the companies declared these findings when they completed the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire.
During the debate on the Business case for the BPP, Cllr Bob Jones, the Labour candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, acknowledged concerns about the bidders and said that if elected he would not accept any companies on the shortlist who were in breach of international law. This reflected the issues raised by WMPSC in our letter citing G4S activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The Liberal Democrat member on the Police Authority referred to the lobby of his surgery by West Midlands against Policing for Profit earlier in the week and reported that he had found his meeting with our delegation to have been very informative and that people had serious questions about the bidders.
The WMPA meeting was overtaken by events. Surrey Police Authority and partner in the BPP had met earlier in the day and voted to suspend its involvement in the programme, this created an opportunity for the Labour members on the Police Authority to propose a motion to defer consideration of the procurement timetable due to confusion about the uncertainty and the implications of Surrey’s decision for the partnership arrangement.
The Police Authority voted by 8 votes to 7 ‘not make any further Gateway decisions’.
Decisions about the future of the BPP privatisation programme will now be left until after the 15th November 2012 and the election of the Police and Crime Commissioner. Our campaign needs to address how it will intervene in the campaign to elect the PCC to see off G4S.