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Let’s not get hysterical just yet – the proposal is to give private companies like G4S and Serco the power to arrest people who fail to pay fines imposed by the courts.

And we don’t know whether it will be approved yet. The consultation period, launched in August, has only just ended. It lasted less than two months, which seems a very short time period for such a plan.

No powers would be taken from police. The idea is to privatise more civil service jobs – nearly 200 of them, in a deal that would be worth £290 million.

Here’s the catch: The Conservatives seem to think it would be a good idea to award the contracts to G4S and Serco. Both companies have proved themselves a dead loss to the state on many previous occasions – most notoriously with the electronic “tagging” scandal, which made criminals of both companies.

We may hope that the Conservatives have the good sense to avoid putting powers of arrest into the hands of such unscrupulous creatures.

But the recent developments concerning former HSBC director and BBC Trust chief Rona Fairhead suggest otherwise.

If we’re lucky, the Tories will shoot themselves in the foot once too often and any privatisation will never go through.

If we’re unlucky, it’ll be another privatisation for Labour to undo, when they return to office and start to bring the UK back into some kind of order.

Let us hope it doesn’t go that far.


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