Northern Ireland news

Questions raised over outsourcing of PSNI contract

Outsourcing company Capita is to provide control and command room services for the PSNI.

Questions have been asked about the transparency of a PSNI contract, thought to be worth tens of millions of pounds, awarded to controversial outsourcing company Capita.

On Monday it was announced that the company had been awarded a contract to deliver command and control room services across the PSNI's three regional contact management centres.

The company said the contract would help deliver "operational benefits" to the PSNI control room system.

However, Capita - who are one of the outsourcing companies paid millions of pounds of public money to provide personal independence payment (PIP) assessments - have been subject to controversy in the past.

The company recently had 40 per cent of its market share value wiped off after new boss Jon Lewis slashed profit forecasts.

On Monday both Capita and the PSNI refused to answer questions from the Irish News about the value of the control room contract.

The PSNI contract with Capita is for an initial seven year term with incremental options to extend it to 17 years.

SDLP deputy leader, Nichola Mallon, said she had asked chief constable George Hamilton to make public the cost to the public purse of the outsourcing control and command room services to Capita.

"This contract is being paid for by the public", she said.

"It is concerning that both Capita and the PSNI are refusing to give any comment on how much of the public's money this contract is worth."

Sinn Féin's justice spokesman Gerry Kelly criticised the decision to outsource the operation to the controversial company.

"The command and control centre is the first point of contact for citizens in emergency situations. This contact should not be anyone other than a publicly accountable PSNI employee," he said.

"The recent collapse of Carillion and subsequent endangerment of the local construction industry is more proof, if it was needed, that outsourcing has failed.

"The primary role of private companies is to turn a profit. This is role that is incompatible with public services which must be delivered with a public sector ethos in the sole interest of citizens", he added.

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