An ambitious bid to create Scotland’s first private security force to help police cut crime has been launched in Fife.
Kenny Watson’s idea for a rapid response team made up of civilian security officers follows public concerns about Police Scotland’s ability to operate effectively on a diminishing budget.
The Glenrothes man hopes to start up in Levenmouth where, he said, people are building six foot fences amid an increasing fear of crime.
He has dismissed claims he would effectively be forming a private police force intent on vigilante-style action, claiming the organisation would be properly regulated and funded.
The 46-year-old security guard has a business plan in place and, if he gains the approval of Fife Council, he would employ an accredited security company to run it.
He is also seeking funding from the council, the Scottish Government and the National Lottery.
“This is not a pie in the sky idea. I’m serious,” he said.
“People are telling me that if they phone the police it could be days or even weeks before they come out.
“People are building six foot high fences because they are scared.
“I grew up in Levenmouth but it’s changed and people feel vulnerable.
“People shouldn’t be feeling like that and I feel I can help with this idea.”
The former special constable strenuously denied he was forming a vigilante group.
“If it was vigilantes I would just get a posse together and go out looking for folk,” he said.
“This will be licensed and regulated.”
Mr Watson’s vision is to have a uniformed presence across Levenmouth which would carry out surveillance on behalf of the police and help with low-level crime.
This would free up police officers to deal with more serious cases.
But his plan has found little favour since it was mooted at a community council meeting last week.
Councillor Tom Adams, chairman of Levenmouth area committee, said: “The guy was looking for advice on how to start a vigilante group and he was asking people if they would support it.
“I am not in favour of that whatsoever.
“The police and wardens do a good enough job without bringing in a group like that.”
Inspector Tom Brown from Levenmouth police said the group would not have powers of arrest and predicted problems with information sharing and governance.
Mr Watson will discuss his plans at a public meeting at Letham Glen, Leven, at noon on Friday.‘The public can rest assured’Levenmouth is a safe place to live and work and people should not feel frightened.
That was the assurance offered by local inspector Tom Brown following concerns about a number of high-profile incidents in the area recently.
The violent death of 82-year-old Mary Logie at the start of January and a handbag snatch on Leven’s Waggon Road on Friday has left many people in the community feeling concerned.
Both follow what, on the face of it, would appear to be a string of attacks across Levenmouth in the last four months, including three attempted murders.
Inspector Brown said each of the incidents was isolated and violent crime was still rare.
“These incidents are not regular occurrences and the public can rest assured that the police in Levenmouth are aware of public concerns and anxieties at this time and that’s natural,” he said.
“There will be officers in the area to provide reassurance and confidence.”
Mr Brown added that in the vast majority of cases victims were assaulted by people they knew and who had a motive.
“People don’t tend to just go up to people in the street and punch or stab them,” he said.