I agree with Ed Miliband on Policing

Ok, shock horror, I actually agree with Ed Miliband on something

Labour leader Ed Miliband will today make a speech saying the G4S fiasco was evidence there should be a halt on government moves to massively increase private sector involvement in policing.

He will also call for a moratorium on any new public money being awarded to G4S after a failure that “beggared belief”.

He will address a gathering of Labour candidates first elected as Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) in England and Wales.

He will say: “Before they are awarded any new policing contracts, we need a review of G4S’s ability to deliver.”

I also believe policing should not be sub-contracted out to ‘private’ companies. After reading a bit about how the Roman Republic used to sub-contract out tax collection to private companies, to devastating effect, I’m of the view that it can only ever end in tears.

First you’re creating another client of the State. A profit hungry one that has an inherent interest in more government and more sub-contracting.

And Secondly if the State is to privatise it should give me and you and every other individual in the country the power to decide who provides us with a particular service. The Government of the day should not decide on our behalf.

Ultimately we need less government, not more ‘privatisation’.


  1. It’s a tricky one. Individual police offices have powers to deprive people of their liberty and, in extreme situations, their lives.

    If one of the primary functions of the law is to protect the people from the state’s abuse of its powers (in this case, policemen acting ultra vires), what recourse does the abused person have?

    When it’s the government, you can complain and get an officer sacked or suspended, maybe even sue. But who pays if you sue? It’s the other taxpayers – none of whom were at fault. With private police forces, granted special powers by the state, you can sue, and it’s the shareholders who pay out (or their insurers). Now clearly any private police service will seek to cover their estimated costs of being sued or the costs of their insurance, by factoring it in to their fees for the service. And also, if you’re shot dead, the fact that you’ve cost their shareholders their dividend for the next quarter is scant compensation. But I wouldn’t discount the idea out of hand. And we’ve not even started on how you would appropriately incentivise and set targets for a private police force. It’s all worthy of a good discussion.

    Anyway, from today’s popbitch:

    Q. How many GS4 security guards does it take to change a lightbulb?

    A. 6 Soldiers and 2 coppers.



  2. This is one of those issues where language fails us. “Private” policing in this context means corporatist policing, the police would be contractors answering to the state, not independent protection agencies. This – of course – is the model they are applying to absolutely everything; call it PPP, call them quangos, call it corporatism, yea why not call it fascism. Whatever it is it isn’t liberalism, it has nothing to do with competition or free markets or choice. I agree that this model is particularly worrying in the context of policing.



  3. Rothbard used to say that government activities should be divided into two types – those that should be done privately, and those that should not be done at at all (because they were aggression).

    Clearly things that should not be done at all – should NOT be contracted out.



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