With investigators behind the scenes, probing everything from historic murder cases to rape accusations, these officers are the new frontline to the high-end operation taking on the cases Met Police can’t.
THEY have chased after street robbers, stopped moped robberies and kept a watchful eye over London – and now one grieving father hopes they can help solve the mystery of his son’s death.
But these officers, in their bright blue and red uniform, aren’t cops – they are the elite new private police forces giving Brits peace of mind.
With investigators behind the scenes, probing everything from historic murder cases to rape accusations, these officers are the new frontline to the high-end operation taking on the cases Met Police can’t cover.
One police force in Essex has even been hired to help a dad gain closure after the death of his son 16 years ago.
Lee Balkwell died at just 33 in 2002, with the death labelled an industrial accident.
But dad Les Balkwell, 71, has fought for 16 years to find the truth around his son’s death, fearing that he was the victim of foul-play at the hands of an organised criminal gang.
And he hopes TM-Eye, a private investigating force made up of former police detectives could give him answers.
Les told The Sun: “I need the truth for my son.”
The Sun went on patrol with one such new taskforce of local bobbies, a private security presence for locals around London’s leafy Belgravia.
Just one among the swelling ranks is Adam Barnard, a new officer to join the force of My Local Bobby – a development by TM-Eye – to cover a select radius of houses and businesses including Gucci, Laura Ashley and Versace.
With an entire career in security behind him, including seven years with the Met Police, the 36-year-old has worked with stores in the area to track down shoplifters and stop crime on the frontlines.
Speaking to the Sun Online, he said: “It’s all about patrolling, and being a visible presence, talking to people in the community and getting involved.
“There’s been a drop in Met Police in the area and people in the community want to see officers on the street that can deter crime.”
It costs a business £200 a month to have Adam and a partner patrol the streets, monitoring houses left empty as their owners go travelling, while also providing a security presence on the streets.
Their intelligence can then feed into the main TM-Eye organisation, a private police force that has been probing hundreds of crimes including rape and murder.
The firm – Britain’s first – has successfully prosecuted more than 400 criminals and is led by former Scotland Yard senior officers.
It’s a one-stop crime shop, from officers patrolling the streets to detectives investigating bigger crimes to even prosecuting criminals and sending them to jail.
At the coal face, Adam and his partner Youcef Mokhari, who served with the Algerian police force for ten years before moving to the UK, have managed to stop moped robberies that spot them in their eye-catching security uniforms.
As the pair walk between the shoppers, they are called into different stores – some local business owners just wanting to chat, others wanting to flag a suspicious sighting or problem.
One business hands over CCTV footage of a man rummaging through their back room, asking the pair to keep an eye out.
Another high-end retailer shares a photograph of a man who slipped into the store and nicked an expensive product, asking for word to be spread around to keep other businesses on their toes.
Other officers, who will soon become a 24/7 operation and extend into Westminster, have chased after thieves attempting to snatch watches in Sloane Square.
In the background are retired detectives and cyber-crime experts working to deliver convictions – from Feroz Khan, who was charged with selling fake goods on the streets to Courtney Bird, who was sentenced to 60 hours of community service after being caught selling fake Louis Vuitton bags and Pandora bracelets.
In two years, the company has successfully convicted 403 criminals for fraud, intellectual property theft and other offences.
Tony Nash, director at My Local Bobby, said while some had been unsure about the introduction of the service to London’s streets, it was now seeing a boom in business.
Speaking to the Sun Online, he said: “We have had the back end on investigations, but My Local Bobby is about preventing and protecting from the front.
“It’s about listening to what people want – they don’t just want visibility, they want someone to call on.”