Monday, 4 April 2011

Barnet residents call for a public enquiry into Barnet Council Big Brother firm

Press release — 4 April 2011

Call for a public inquiry into the relationship between
MetPro Rapid Response/MetPro Emergency Response and Barnet Council

Barnet Council has been engaging private security firms MetPro Rapid Response/MetPro Emergency Response to control residents’ access to council meetings, in particular the council meeting on 1 March 2011. One of the company directors claims the company has also monitored blogs by Barnet residents, and filmed Barnet residents at Council meetings.

Despite holding contracts worth several hundred thousand pounds with Barnet Council, MetPro Rapid Response collapsed recently owing around £400,000, including £245,000 to HM Revenue & Customs. The firm is now in the hands of liquidators; however, MetPro Emergency Response, a company recently set up by the same company directors associated with MetPro Rapid Response, continued for a while to be employed by Barnet after the collapse of MetPro Rapid Response.

As well as providing security for Council meetings, these firms provided security at several council locations, including some housing vulnerable people.

At the meeting on 1 March, it appears that MetPro security staff did not wear visible identification, breaching Security Industry Authority (SIA) regulations, whilst working for Barnet Council.

Statements made by directors of the company regarding the scope of their work for Barnet have been contradicted by executive officers of Barnet Council.

The full facts regarding Barnet Council’s contract/s with MetPro Rapid Response/MetPro Emergency Response must be revealed to the public. We need to know about the use of data collected by the company (with full consideration for data protection and human rights implications). We need Barnet Council to reveal the extent of the MetPro companies’ activities on behalf of the Council. Residents and Council staff have a right to know what activities their Council undertake. They have a right to expect the Council only to engage firms with a proven track record for such activities and to monitor such, ensuring, for example, that they comply with legislation, eg, SIA regulations.

The only way that trust can be restored in Barnet Council, following the MetPro debacle, is to hold a full public inquiry. We the undersigned call on Nick Walkley, CEO of Barnet Council, and Lynne Hillan, Council Leader, to immediately engage an independent investigator, enjoying the confidence of Barnet residents, to look into the relationship between MetPro Rapid Response/MetPro Emergency Response and Barnet Council. We demand to know what Barnet Council asked MetPro Rapid Response/MetPro Emergency Response to do and what Barnet Council has done with any information about residents it has had access to as a result of MetPro’s work.


Alexander Clayman (N12)
Derek Dishman (EN5)
Adam Langleben (HA8)
Vicki Morris (NW9) (click on name to email)
Theresa Musgrove (N3)
Maria Nash (EN4)
Julian Silverman (N12)
Roger Tichborne (NW7) (click on name to email)
Adele Winston (EN5)
If you are interested in this campaign or want more details, click the above links to Vicki Morris or myself. Please email Vicki if you wish to add your name to this list.


baarnett said...

I'm sure we can all take great comfort in the fact that


was incorporated as a private limited company as recently as 13th January. Thank goodness it was ready, and indeed willing, to take on the responsibilities of security matters, for the London Borough of Barnet, when suddenly called upon.

Just think how close we came to disaster!

I'm sure we can all look forward to 13 October 2012, when the new company published its first year's accounts, so we can see how this hero of the security industry is doing.

Let us all wish it well!

baarnett said...

I'm sure that the council will be able to clarify the exact circumstances under which one company was handling security matters, and then suddenly another entirely separate security company was, well, doing the same thing.

We can be certain that the council has perfectly fine and detailed procurement procedures, which were closely followed.

And how fortunate that the replacement security company had all the necessary resources - of vehicles, clothing, radios, and so on - that it needed, in order to operate for the council.

It would have been dreadful if the new company did not have such items, but I understand generally there is a second-hand market, for instance from failed firms, that can sometimes help out when setting up a business. Sometimes such items are a real bargain!

It will be interesting when we see the accounts of the new company, to see what assets it has. It may, of course, have merely been hiring the needed items.