Two-tier policing fears as officers go for hire Fears of two-tier system as police are hired out

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The Independent Online
A health trust has hired two police officers at pounds 60,000 a year to patrol a hospital instead of private security guards in a pioneering move, writes Jason Bennetto.

The police force involved - Devon and Cornwall - is also planning to rent out its officers to a borough council.

The decisions were made possible because of changes in the law under the Police and Magistrates Act, which allows police authorities to accept grants to provide an extra service.

There are fears that the development could lead to two- tier policing, with one service for the rich and another for the poor. Chief constables, however, insist it will not affect the number of officers on the beat.

Yesterday the force set up a permanent base at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Wonford. The annual pounds 60,000 fee from the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust will be used to pay for new recruits but there will be several months during which the force will have a shortfall of two officers.

The force is also expected to sign a deal with Torbay council to replace private security guards in patrolling council property. Officers would work during their overtime and be paid a proportion of the fee.