Results from U.K.'s Experiment with 'Private Police Force' Could Change Policing for Good


From handling cases involving theft, missing persons and rape, to investigating cold-case murders and patrolling the streets, a new private police force is sweeping though Britain — and it has a 100 percent conviction rate.

TM Eye, a firm led by former Scotland Yard senior officers, takes on the cases that their regular counterparts are too busy to look at, and it’s successfully rounding up hundreds of criminals.

According to The U.K. Sun, the firm has successfully prosecuted over 400 criminals, reportedly bringing more private convictions in two years than any other organization aside from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The organization’s initiative comes as U.K. police forces have admitted to not having enough financial resources or manpower to investigate high-volume crimes. This has been leaving officers stretched and overwhelmed.

Though the private force is meant to shift that burden, others warn that it may also come with its own set of consequences.

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Critics of the initiative have expressed fear that the growing popularity of private policing could, in fact, lead to a two-tier system, where the wealthy receive priority protection.

One aspect of the firm in particular that has fueled this fear is a service called “My Local Bobby,” which costs homeowners around 200 pounds ($280) and involves guards patrolling neighborhood streets.

The service, which was launched last year, has covered some of the more wealthy neighborhoods in the U.K., as clients receive a “meet and greet” service with the added bonus of a hotline directly to their patrolling officer, who will respond to any crime within five minutes.

“Eventually there will be a two-tier system with the haves and the have-nots,” said Metropolitan Police Federation Chairman Ken Marsh. “And if you have money and live in a 20 million pound ($28 million) house in Chelsea you can pay for private security.”

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Marsh said the private force and its detectives are a “staggering indictment” of the current system of policing, according to The U.K. Daily Mail.

“My concern would be, where is the public scrutiny if it goes wrong?” Marsh asked. “If they are allowed to go and do police’s job for them, that is a dangerous status quo.”

However, others have pointed out that the proof of the private police force’s necessity may be in the numbers.

During a 6-month period, 60 investigators were able to capture suspects who had been wanted by police for attempted murder and rape, even going so far as to infiltrate a major counterfeit goods gang using undercover measures.

And though the firm has nearly 36 criminal cases awaiting a final result in U.K. courts, they are spreading their talents to other investigations in places like London, Cheshire and Avon, among others.

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Just like their more officials counterparts, the patrol teams have body cameras ready to record evidence, and they have the right to apprehend a suspect using a  citizen’s arrest — all in the name of helping authorities outsource their patrols.

The firm’s managing director, David McKelvey, suggested that the private firm may even do more undercover work than other law enforcement agencies.

“We have a better surveillance capability and equipment than most forces,” McKelvey said, adding that the firm’s main priority is to catch criminals and protect the citizens it serves.

“Police are on their knees, sick to the teeth with what is going on in their job,” McKelvey added. “The bottom line is we have better uniforms, better pay and better support at work. It’s a huge growth industry.”

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ASU grad who loves all things reading and writing.
Becky is an ASU grad who uses her spare time to read, write and play with her dog, Tasha. Her interests include politics, religion, and all things science. Her work has been published with ASU's Normal Noise, Phoenix Sister Cities, and "Dramatica," a university-run publication in Romania.
Bachelor of Arts in English/Creative Writing
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