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Should Councils employ private security firms to patrol the streets?

Labour run Tameside Council has hired a private security firm, Peak Combined Services, to police Armadale Road in Dukinfield. It has ordered the patrols, in response to uncontrollable youth annoyance and anti-social behaviour in the area. However, the Conservatives have slammed the patrols, and called them a “panic measure that exposes the systematic failure of Labour’s community safety policy in Tameside.”

Cllr. John Bell, the Tameside Conservative Leader, says:

“I am aghast that community safety in Tameside is now being put in the hands of hired heavies. Whilst I appreciate that the individual security guards should be subject to the usual legislative checks, they, nonetheless, have absolutely no powers, and no right, to be patrolling the streets in the name of Tameside Council or anybody else.

“I can find no similar example of these types of patrols occurring anywhere else in the country, although I understand that further afield in Italy, Silvio Burlusconi has allowed neo-fascists to patrol

“How much are these patrols costing taxpayers, what powers do they have, who gave them a remit and who is making them accountable to the public?

“These are the ethical questions that have been steamrollered by Labour, and this is a panic measure that exposes the systematic failure of Labour’s community safety policy in Tameside. It is a system that allows gangs of feral youths to run amok terrorising residents, chased by hired vigilantes – all with the blessing of Tameside’s Labour Council.

“It is a sad indictment that whilst the police are overstretched in their work, Labour refuses to provide extra funding for more police in the borough, yet taxpayers’ money can be found to fund these patrols and employ an army of civilian wardens.

“Quite simply, Labour need to get a grip and stop undermining the police. They need to accept our argument, that the only way to effectively tackle crime is to provide more funding for more police on our streets, instead of the bizarre four-tier system we now have of police, PCSOs, Patrollers and hired heavies.” 

Certainly the cost is something that should be looked at - especially given concerns about a conflict of interest. The description of "hired heavies" does seem fair in this case. They patrol around with rottweilers which rather gioves the message to local youths that going around with a rottweiler is the route to power. But what if reputable security guards were patrolling without rottweilers? What if they were hired without a conflict of interest? What if they represented good value for money compared to giving extra funds to the police? What if desperate local residents who had given up on the police welcomed them with open arms? I don't think hiring security guards is something that should be rejected automatically.


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