A public sector union representing Hertfordshire Police has questioned the suitability of the private security contractor poised to take over the constabulary's back office jobs.

Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire police forces are currently drawing up proposals to outsource their "operational support", or office jobs, to G4S.

The firm made headlines this week when it emerged it needed the help of 3,500 members of the armed forces and nine police constabularies to guard Olympic venues, which it was paid to do by the Government.

Steph Raddings, chairman of Herts Police UNISON, said: "Among the departments Hertfordshire Constabulary is looking to outsource are HR, training, administration, procurement and logistics.

"This is despite G4S itself giving the best example of how severely ‘front line’ provision is impacted when ‘back office’ functions fail.

"We believe it is the failure in these functions that has led to G4S being unable to supply and  maintain its "front line" security guards.

"If these functions fail once police support services are outsourced to G4S, who will cover the thin blue line?"

Ms Raddings said chief constable Andy Bliss reassured staff that if the decision was taken to outsource, this decision will have been made considering all the evidence available.

Heather Valentine, deputy chief constable, said: "If the contract goes ahead it would include step out clauses should the service fail catastrophically with the ability to step in and take back the service while the contractual issues were sorted and that financial penalties would apply."

However, Ms Raddings argued that despite safeguards, the risk of failure was outweighed by the benefit.

She added: "Current in-house provision of organisational support services has worked effectively with Hertfordshire Police regularly being one of the lead forces within the country.

"Any financial penalties paid in these instances will not compensate the local tax payers whose service could worsen if another Olympic "shambles" occurs."

The Watford Observer is waiting to hear from G4S.