Police chief attacks private patrols

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The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police has attacked a plan for up to 100 uniformed staff from one of Britain's largest private security companies to patrol the city centre in body armour under a deal with local businesses.

Peter Fahy said private companies should not be involved in routine street patrols and that the plan went too far in replacing the traditional role of uniformed police officers. Securitas staff would not have the power of arrest but the firm wants its staff eventually to be able to impose on-the-spot fines for dropping litter and other minor offences. Mr Fahy said talks would be held with Securitas, but his force does not have the power to block the plan.

"There has been considerable public debate regarding the private sector becoming involved in policing and all parties agree that private sector industries should not be involved in the routine patrols of public open space," Mr Fahy said. "We do not think that the public would be happy with private company employees patrolling the streets wearing body armour and camera equipment."

Securitas wants to expand the programme, the first of its kind, to cities across the rest of Britain as forces grapple with 20 per cent budget cuts.

The scheme comes amid fierce opposition to plans by two forces, West Midlands and Surrey, to award a £1.5bn contract to private firms. The forces say that patrolling would remain the job of police officers.