Essex: Police force spends more than £1m guarding their own buildings
PUBLISHED: 09:00 18 August 2012
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MORE than £1million has been spent on security services to patrol and guard Essex Police buildings, it can be revealed.
Security staff has also been paid to escort people around site and man panic and intruder alarms.
The force said that the £1,042,692 spent on security staff at a single site, which has cost taxpayers an average of £208,538 per annum for the last five years, comes out of a national budget.
But a spokesman declined to say if the amount, details of which were released after a Freedom of Information request (FOI) by The East Anglian Daily Times, could have been spent elsewhere.
A subsequent FOI asking which national budget the money was from and who controls that budget was refused by Essex Police on the grounds that it was “exempt information.”
MPs last night accused force bosses of “splitting hairs” and said the security money still came from taxpayers who have a right to know how, when and why their money is spent.
According to figures released by the force total, £152,386 was spent on the services of security companies in 2011/12.
In 2010/2011 £253,814 had been paid out, a slight drop on £254,663 of 2009/2010, the highest figure in the five year period.
A spokesman said for Essex Police said that only one of its sites made use of security guards, but would not identify it.
He added that to do so could allow those with “criminal intent to target the building which could jeopardise the effectiveness of it, and its ability to carry out its function.”
But the force did say that their security is not provided by G4S, the firm who described their own failures at the Olympics as a “humiliating shambles’.
They declined to name which firm does work at its site.
Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell urged Essex Police to be more forthcoming with information about the security used at their Essex site.
He said: “I think it is splitting hairs whether it comes out of home office budget or Essex Police’s budget. It is public money.
“I would urge Essex Police to not to be so secretive. I don’t think we’re asking for anything unreasonable. It is perfectly reasonable for the tax payers of Essex to be told how and why their money has been spent. We are not asking for details of the security or anything that would compromise what they are doing.”
A spokesman for Essex Police said: “Essex Police does employ a company to provide property services, and this work includes a small amount of security. However, payment for all these services is paid for through a national fund and does not come from any Essex Police budget.”
According to the FOI, security at the site are tasked with surveillance patrols of the building and site, internal floor patrols of communal areas, reception services, activation of fire detection systems and alarms, activation of intruder alarms, panic alarms and security alerts.
They are also given parking management, escort duties and passenger lift assistance duties.