One of the biggest risks to all this is that the police service will increasingly fragment into a series of contracted parts where coordinated action on crime & community safety will become more and more difficult to achieve. Moreover I fear that if (say) police community support officers are contracted out, street patrol will become the preserve of private companies where members of the public will only see police constables in times of stress. This is hardly a recipe for boosting policing by consent.
So I am resolutely an arch commissioning sceptic as opposed to enthusiast. (Some of my concerns can be found in my Guardian article of a few weeks ago here.)
And I think this will become a bigger issue as time proceeds as the public become more aware of what is happening and the risks & downsides that are emerging. As evidence of this my tweet of a few days ago where I said "Please RT if you feel even just a tad concerned about police privatisation.. RT lots if you're really worried! Ta" was retweeted over a 50 times in the next few days.
*When Thames Valley commissioned me and the firm I used to work for back in 1992 to develop and run a cascaded Leadership development programme (called Leadership in Action) for the force, I grabbed the opportunity with gusto. I spent several weeks in Sulhampstead with some great police officers as I ‘trained the trainers’. (I still have the certificate for winning the Karaoke competition in the bar one night with my rendition of ‘Michelle’!) This was the beginning of my work as a leadership & strategy adviser / facilitator with not just Thames Valley but many other police services and partner justice agencies since then.
And the police have to respond to the messiness and unpredictability of the world. They have to stay one step ahead of criminals who are becoming ever more sophisticated in their attempts to exploit the rest of us. Our lives are becoming more fragmented as regular work is harder to come by, alcohol and drugs are more available, internet transactions are becoming more common and so forth. The world is complex: a butterfly flaps a wing in South America and we have a hosepipe ban in southern England... Rodney King is beaten up in Los Angeles and people protest outside Brixton police station. (That second event happened, by the way.) We need police leaders who manage within complexity.