Page last updated at 12:51 GMT, Wednesday, 29 July 2009 13:51 UK

Security firm 'playing on fear'

Dave Maclean
Dave Maclean is due in court charged with impersonating a police officer

A security firm offering patrols in Southampton for a charge to residents of £160 a year has been criticised for "playing on people's fear".

Atraks said officers wear stab proof, carry handcuffs and can detain people.

The firm has been leafleting homes in Southampton, promising to protect residents with up to 60 patrols a day.

Hampshire Police Federation and city councillors have criticised the campaign but Atraks said many people wanted to pay for "peace of mind".

Dave Maclean, who runs Atraks, said: "We offer up to 60 patrols day and night, private escorts from local shops should you feel intimidated and whilst you're on holiday we will visit your property 10 times a day to ensure windows and doors are secure."

This is preying on people's perceptions of crime, which is always much worse than the reality of crime, and then trying to profit from it
Councillor Royston Smith

Mr Maclean is due in court in two months time charged with impersonating a police officer.

He said that matter was "for the courts to decide" but added: "If people think that we're police that doesn't portray our company in the right manner.

"We need people to identify ourselves as being Atraks and we do that by the badges and wearing navy blue trousers and shirts.

"Unfortunately, by putting a stab vest on you are going to look like enforcement of some sort, whether that's police or council wardens."

'Scare people'

Councillor Royston Smith told the BBC there were areas where private security did work, such as in nightclubs, shops and gated developments, but to charge residents for it was wrong.

"This is a job for the police," he said.

"It's easy to put leaflets through people's doors highlighting things like knife and gun crime.

"It simply isn't the case that Southampton has a big problem with that.

"This is preying on people's perceptions of crime, which is always much worse than the reality of crime, and then trying to profit from it.

"It's trying to scare people into paying for extra security they simply don't need."

Mr Maclean said: "A lot of our customers don't live in fear of crime in their local communities but feel they will pay the £3.15 a week just to have somebody patrolling and peace of mind."

Hampshire Constabulary would not comment on the business but advised anyone thinking of using a private security firm to check how accountable it was.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Play area security guard proposal
08 Oct 08 |  Berkshire
Villagers concerned about crime
17 Dec 07 |  Nottinghamshire
Residents may hire private police
02 Oct 07 |  Devon

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific