Posted: May 03, 2012 12:36 AMUpdated: May 03, 2012 12:36 AM
LONDON -- Giant US military-industrial company Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) is in the running to win a slice of a controversial £1.5 billion (US$2.43 billion) contract to transform the West Midlands and Surrey police forces in Britain, The (London) Times reported.
Hailed as the largest police privatization scheme in the UK, it has been suggested the private companies who win the contract will be tasked to perform several police functions -- including patrols, detention and criminal investigation.
KBR, a former subsidiary of the Halliburton group, has attracted its share of criticism over the large contracts it won with the US government during the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The corporation also helped to build the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
The Times reported that it was among four groups shortlisted to win the British police contract, a number whittled down from more than 200.
A KBR spokesman said its bid was the first time the corporation had attempted to get involved in regular policing.
"KBR is not involved in policing; instead, our objective in the privatization of the police force is to get more police doing actual police work while KBR brings operational efficiencies to the back office with the objective of achieving an overall lower cost of service while improving service levels," the spokesman said.
With police planning to hold a protest march next week against the push to privative the force, KBR's involvement in the bidding process will possibly add fuel to the fire.
"This is the latest move that seems to be designed to make the police more and more remote from the public we serve," said Julie Nesbit, of the Police Federation.
"We believe simply that if you call a cop, you should get a cop, not a security guard, not a uniformed civilian nor an employee of a major international conglomerate. We believe it's what the public expect and believe that there should be a public debate before parts of the police service are sold off to the highest bidder."
Police Superintendents' Association President Derek Barnett said the public should be more involved in the push towards privatization.
"The legitimacy of policing stems from the fact that it takes place with the consent of the public; it is only right, therefore, that the public should have a say in who they want to deliver operational policing services," he said.