A private force is aiming to “fill in the gaps” of modern day policing.
TM Eye, set up by a retired Metropolitan Police detective chief inspector, offers private investigations and a paid for beat bobby service.
Since 2016 it has brought successful private prosecutions against 403 criminals for fraud, intellectual property theft and other offences. A total of 43 were jailed.
David McKelvey, who retired from the force after 28 years, initially set up the company in 2007 to carry out investigations into fake and counterfeit goods whilst reporting back to trading standards.
However, following the government's cuts to the police service, he sought legal advice to carry out private criminal prosecutions.
The company, staffed by retired detectives and cybercrime experts from Scotland Yard, the National Crime Agency and GCHQ, is now expanding its services beyond predominantly financial investigations.
In the last six months its 60 investigators, some with more than 30 years’ experience, have nabbed suspects wanted by police for attempted murder and rape.
It has also assisted in three high-profile murder investigations and burglary, theft, stalking and blackmail cases.
The company, which has a 100 per cent conviction rate “because everything is done properly”, currently has 36 criminal cases pending at Crown and magistrates’ courts around the country and is working on a further 60 investigations.
All of its suspects’ DNA and fingerprints are recorded on the Police National Computer.
It does not charge for its investigative services, seeking instead to recoup costs from courts after offenders are convicted.
All staff are trained throughout the year, are SIA approved and have had close protection courses.
It also officers a service called "My Local Bobby" costing households up to £200 a month each for guards to patrol their streets.
Individual uniformed “bobbies” cover up to 250 houses to deter any criminal activity.
Each wear a body camera to record incidents and offences for evidence purposes.
Mr McKelvey told Police Oracle: “Since May last year we started hiring Bobbies, akin to the old fashioned officers in uniform.
“There are officers missing from austerity cuts and the reduction in PCSOs means patrolling in the old fashioned way doesn’t exist.
“It is just police getting their hands dirty, we would never try to replace the police, we are there to fill the gaps.”
If there is a crime, the firm promises to have a local response officer on the scene within five minutes who can apprehend suspects using a citizen’s arrest.
However, the initiative has received criticism amid claims it is letting down “Peelian principals” due to more affluent areas receiving better protection as they can afford it.
TM Eye has an utter disregard for the Peelian Principles this Country's unique & highly regarded Policing model was built on. Justice for those who can pay is no justice at all. These men are letting down their ex colleagues. https://t.co/7cejb3KSJj— Cate Moore (@cate_a_moore) February 3, 2018
You squeeze a public service until it breaks and when we struggle to cope the gaps get filled. Sad and worrying times. https://t.co/A93wqRlbLb— John Apter (@Hantsfedchair) February 3, 2018
However, retired City of London Commander Chris Greany says private policing companies are something that could become increasingly popular in the future.
He posted on social media: "Good convivtion rate though...there would be no demand for this if policing was effectively funded...I predict we will see more of it...."
Mr McKelvey rubbished the criticisms adding: “Everything we do is following the law, if we didn’t follow the law we would get sued and lose our business.
“If police are not prepared to prosecute then we will.
“We work with the police day-in day-out and have a very close relationship.
“Officers are in favour of what we do, I’ve already had 20 or more serving officers contacting us for a job.”