Britain Gets First Private Police, Enjoys Patronage

The first private police force to hit Britain known as My Local Bobby patrols wealthy London streets in Belgravia, Mayfair and Kensington

The service was, set up by former Metropolitan Police detective chief inspector David McKelvey and Tony Nash, 52, former commander of the London borough of Newham, describes itself as ‘Britain’s first private police force’.

Demand for the bobbies, who dress in a high-vis red jacket and cap, has soared as residents feel let down by over-burdened police officers, reports the Guardian.

They now intend to branch further out and are looking to move forces into other cities and more rural areas.

Mr McKelvey told the Guardian: ‘You don’t see policemen walk around the streets any more. If you call 101 it’s a 30-minute wait and it is not a police officer who answers.

‘My Local Bobby is basically taking things back to Dixon of Dock Green-style policing.’

A Met spokeswoman said: ‘Any reports of crime provided to the Met by a third party will always be assessed and dealt with.’

The company, the country’s first de-facto private police force, is operating against a backdrop of rising crime rates and police budget cuts.

Co-founder Tony Nash, an ex-Metropolitan Police commander, has previously said: ‘This is going back to Dixon of Dock Green to a degree. It’s what people want.

‘There is no substitute for going out and knocking on doors. But with the current state of finances, police are solving cases behind their desks and that has become the culture.’

In the past two years the company has brought successful private prosecutions against 403 criminals for fraud, intellectual property theft and other offences. A total of 43 were jailed.

The company, staffed by retired detectives and cyber-crime experts from Scotland Yard, the National Crime Agency and GCHQ, is now expanding its services beyond predominantly financial investigations.

It comes as police chiefs admit they do not have the money to investigate high- volume crimes such as shoplifting and stretched officers complain that they are at breaking point.

But critics fear the rise of private policing could lead to a two-tier system where only the wealthy get protection from criminals.