The top police officer of Essex stated that he does not support patrols by private security contractors since poor communities in the region would suffer.
During a public meeting held at Basildon Lower Academy, Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh stated that residents seem to be opting for security contractors to take over the roles of police officers. He does not support this move. His comments come after a retired police constable, Lewis Kearney, resigned from Essex Police to form his own private security company.
Kearney stated that after an increase in crime in Southend, Essex, he decided to launch his own security company to patrol the neighbourhoods. This patrolling is based on membership and costs £49.95 a month.
Kavanagh said that private patrolling by security guards would result in a two-tiered society, with those residents who can afford to pay the membership and those who cannot. While reiterating that he did not support this type of patrolling in the community, he did acknowledge that there was a need to get police officers to do the patrolling as it was the police’s job to keep communities safe.
Kavanagh went on to state that as chief constable, he wanted to ensure patrolling regardless of residents being able to afford it or not. He acknowledged that the security contractors were professional and often provided intelligence to the police, but that was not the answer.
Meanwhile, Kearney announced that his personnel would be conducting patrols throughout the night in West Shoebury and Thorpe Bay. Later on, more areas would be added to this list. He added that if two-tiered policing could keep residents safe, it is not a bad idea to go ahead with it. This was a better option than allowing residents to do their own patrols.
He also added that austerity measures were taking a toll on police resources. By allowing private security contractors to patrol areas, the police can use its limited resources to tackle other crimes such as domestic abuse, gang violence and sexual exploitation of children.