Shhhhhhh – don't tell anyone. There's an election this week which could have massive implications around privatising the police and the future of public safety.
The ConDem Government wants police forces to sell contracts to the private sector to run services like crime investigation, forensics, 999 call handling, custody and detention. The privatisation is being pushed on purely ideological and cost-cutting grounds. And it will be the community that will suffer from the consequences of poorer services, as private companies cut back to increase profit.
A recent poll by ComRes for UNISON showed that almost two thirds (62%) of the public oppose privatisation of police services, and 50% said that they would trust the police less if a private company ran their local services. More than half (53%) reported that they would feel less safe if a private company were answering 999 calls in their area, while nearly half (46) thought that accountability of the police force to the British public would get worse. If only on this issue it is worth voting.
So where do the candidates stand on privatisation? And who are the candidates?
The candidates are Matt Gallagher (Liberal Democrats), Tony Lloyd (Labour Party), Michael William Winstanley (Conservative Party), Steven Marcus Woolfe (UKIP) and Roy Warren (Independent).
None of the candidates have bothered to send out a press release saying why people should vote for them – and we had to go to a national website and tap in a Salford postcode to find what they are going to do if they are elected…
Ex cop Matt Gallagher (Lib Dem) doesn't mention the privatisation but does state that "he knows where there is waste and inefficiency that can be tackled, freeing up officers to focus on crime fighting and putting more officers on the beat". Is this shorthand for `privatisation'?
Tony Lloyd (Labour) pledges to "stand up for communities against the Tories' 20 per cent cuts to policing and the loss of nearly 3,000 police and civilian posts in Greater Manchester (and 16,000 police officers nationally)" and to "keep police on the beat not hand policing over to private companies. Our police are not for sale."
Roy Warren (Independent) doesn't mention privatisation but states "Under present financial conditions I understand the need for cuts and the fact that we have to do more for less." Is this shorthand for `privatisation'?
Michael William Winstanley (Conservative) doesn't mention privatisation but does put himself in the dock… "For the first time ever one person will be responsible for policing and crime". Wow! One person responsible for crime in Greater Manchester? Why doesn't he just hang himself then the crime will be gone?
Steven Marcus Woolfe (UKIP) doesn't state anything on privatisation but he does say "No to…the persecution of motorists as driving cash machines". It took us a few minutes to work that out…
More fun statements from the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner election candidates can be found at www.choosemypcc.org.uk
People wanting to receive a printed version of the candidates' waffle by post can order it online or call 0800 1070708.
We hope everyone in Salford has now been inspired to get out there and vote on Thursday 15th November. Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm. You get to vote for a first and a second choice candidate – if you can find two worth bothering with…