The idea of providing services to those who can afford to pay for them has been criticised by some councils as being the first step towards privatised police forces creating a two tier system benefiting only those who can afford to pay.
Many local authorities spend tens of thousands of pounds a year on private security guards to combat crime. The Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall, John Evans, could be the first in the country to allow his men and women to do the work instead if a fee is paid direct to the force.
He says it would benefit councils, hospitals and other organisations, who would have a professional police officer with all the back-up resources of the whole force, rather than security guards. The move is made possible under new legislation enabling chief constables to seek sponsorship or other revenue support.
Initially it would have to be done by police on their days off or as overtime.