Friday, 13 November 2009

Opinion divides as Fearless seeks to expand private police force

Following the report yesterday about Fearless Francis Jones's new private police force in Darlington, the comments section in the Northern Echo is divided about his suitability for such a role and the need for such a service. Perhaps the majority view expressed there is favourable, however, as is a letter published in today's Echo from a local resident.

But while some residents are clearly keen on this and while the local police inspector does not seem concerned about the emergence of a private police force in the town, many of his officers are less enthusiastic. I understand that Fearless Francis has approached local pcso's and Community Partnerships asking for an invitation to attend local PACT (Police and Communities Together) meetings to explain what services he can offer local communities. My understanding is that these requests have been turned down.

Local community police officers and pcso's that I spoke to last night felt that a heavy-handed private response to reports of kids hanging out in parks and on the streets could simply have the effect of driving these kids around the town and remove the opportunity for youth workers, the police and anti-social behaviour officers to carry out constructive work with them.

Nobody wants crime and anti-social behaviour on our streets and I've seen enough of it in North Road to know the intense anxiety it can cause to many people. But I still believe this is for the police and the Council to deal with, taking appropriate action according to the specific circumstances, not for a private police force to do, seeking payment from vulnerable people to simply move kids on without support from the professional services.

Conservative Councillor Gill Cartwright says this on her blog:

"Clearly, Sparta security have seen a gap in the market and filled it. I will follow them with interest and I would be very interested in getting feedback from people who use the warden service. I think though that people should be getting this service through the local authority and not have to pay privately."

We have yet to hear any public comments from the Council or Labour politicians in the town.

1 comment:

james said...

No wonder the police and PCSOs are worried - privatisation drives down pay and conditions and leads to a worse service for those without the means to pay...

It's a wonder that free-market Liberals and Tories are worried ;-)