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Despairing businesses call in private police to protect livelihoods


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The answer to police cuts is private companies funding their own law enforcement, says business lead.

Camden Town: Businesses are financing their own law enforcement to fight against drug dealing and anti-social behaviour

Camden Town: Businesses are financing their own law enforcement to fight against drug dealing and anti-social behaviour

Date - 18th March 2019
By - Hermione Wright
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Business owners have taken matters into their own hands by funding nine private law enforcement officers.

They say government cuts means the police service can no longer adequately protect them or their businesses.   

Simon Pitkeathley, Chief Executive of Camden Town Unlimited (CTU) - a body set up to protect the commercial side of London’s Camden Town - says money collected from businesses has been spent on funding six private security officers and part-funded three Met dedicated ward officers (DWOs).

CTU has set aside £300,000 to pay for the nine people annually - £260,000 via business rates and £40,000 from Camden Market developer Lab Tech. 

The cash pays for the six private officers for one year, and under a Section 92 agreement, a loophole which allows the Met to unlock additional policing in exchange for private funding, the remaining cash pays for 50 per cent of the DWO’s annual salaries – the difference is paid by the Met.

It is understood that if the private firm can no longer afford the DWO contribution, the Met will re-allocate them elsewhere in London.

With drug dealing and anti-social behaviour in the area spiralling “out of control”, Mr Pitkeathley says it’s time for over-stretched police to consider more seriously teaming up with private companies to ensure there are enough officers protecting the streets.

These companies can “be a partner to the force”, he says, and with the help of private security, “not only police officer instinct” will need to be relied upon in future.

Mr Pitkeathley told Police Oracle: “We don’t know when the end point of this will be. We don’t think that we should be doing this frankly, this shouldn’t be hired by private industry. I hope that we don’t have to be doing this in five years’ time.

“The cuts are hitting hard and the businesses are now having to pick up the slack at the same time that business rates have gone up as well as there being a late night levy – it seems incredibly unfair.”

The three-year plan was put to a vote and shop owners decided to finance the radical solution – despite acknowledging that they would prefer to spend the money on projects like improving the area’s streetscape.

However, despite the need to call in the private heavyweights, Mr Pitkeathley says CTU has a “good relationship” with the police with “lots of hands-on interaction”, and they meet for 30 minutes every week to discuss “suspicious people” and other law enforcing matters.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve been let down by the force – officers are doing the best they can with the budget they’ve got,” he said.

A Met Police spokesman said: “We would encourage residents who have concerns about policing in their area to contact their Dedicated Ward Officers (DWO). There are dedicated officers working in every ward across the capital.

“Where organisations or communities wish to fund their own security patrols we will work with these personnel in the most appropriate way to prevent and detect crime.

“Any reports of crime and evidence provided to the Met by a third party will always be assessed and dealt with in the most appropriate way.”

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All this is to the thanks of Policing cuts. Can you blame the businesses as we/you are not giving the service which is necessary.  Safety and security come at a price but it appears that it is not one that the Government want to pay.  

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