Helen Wilkie, firearms licencing manager, says the change is part of a new contract under which G4S will provide a range of services to Lincolnshire police.

?There will be no dramatic changes in firearms licencing?, she said.

?Over a period of two to three years G4S will be looking to see how they can improve the service by bringing in new technology and taking a look at what is needed to be more productive and more efficient.?

?Currently, for example, we need to look at several different systems to carry out checks on applicants and G4S will be investigating how we can reduce the amount of time and work involved in that.?

?The responsibility for firearms licencing remains with the police but the Firearm Enquiry Officers will be employed by G4S although my job is not being transferred. The changes I envisage will be directed at making us more efficient. The priority will remain providing a good service to certificate holders and ensuring public safety.?

It is thought that as many as ten other police forces in the country are currently considering following Lincolnshire?s lead.

Police Authority Chairman, Barry Young, said: ?By taking over a range of support functions, G4S will contribute to the force?s aim of being able to put 97% of its warranted officers in frontline roles by April?.

Kim Challis, group managing director of G4S government and outsourcing, said: ?We are delighted to have the opportunity to implement many new innovations, such as our purpose-built ?Bridewell? custody suites ? the first of which will be completed within a year?.

Lincolnshire Police Authority have announced a 3.96% increase on the council tax precept. This will mean an increase of 0.14 pence a week to council tax payer in band D.

An unamed source said: “If I lived in Lincolnshire I think I would be asking how much of that increase was going to line the pockets of the G4S shareholders.”

Cleveland has a £175 million contract, Devon and Cornwall, run by IBM have already outsourced staff and anecdotal information would suggest they are now regretting it.

Chief Officers in Cleveland are suspended pending investigation, however it is not known at this time if the suspensions are connected to the outsourcing to I.T company, Steria.

Police Staff are already under the cosh from threats to terms and conditions, pensions reform, frozen pay, collaboration, cuts and the introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners who will bring yet another dimension to an already complicated landscape.

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