A private company has been drafted in to plug the hole created by falling police numbers and curb anti-social behaviour in the borough.

Community safety officers from Parkguard Ltd have been patrolling the streets of Waltham Forest for the past three months as part of a six-month pilot scheme.

The uniformed officers are accredited under the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS) – a Met Police accreditation.

Under the Police Reform Act 2002 they hold the power to request an offender’s name and address, issue a fixed penalty notice, confiscate items such as tobacco or alcohol, or stop and inspect a vehicle.

The six-month pilot, which commenced in December 2019 and ends in May 2020, cost the council £110,210.

The service includes 12-hour patrols seven-days a week, with four officers per patrol and two vehicles.

Cllr Ahsan Khan, cabinet member for community safety, said: “We are carrying out a six-month trial with Parkguard Ltd to tackle anti-social behaviour in hot spot areas.

“We know from our residents that tackling anti-social behaviour (ASB) and crime is one of their main priorities – this trial means we will have more highly visible officers on our streets, providing extra reassurance to the public, while at the same time freeing up the council’s ASB team to focus on complex cases.”

Hotspots are identified by the council’s anti-social behaviour team and police officers. Locations for patrols are identified and assigned patrols every two weeks.

Council officials say Parkguard patrols provide the local authority with the required resources to tackle anti-social behaviour as the number of police officers across the capital continues to fall.

The number of officers in England and Wales fell by 20,600 between March 2010 and March 2019, down to 123,200, close to the lowest recorded level since the early 1980s.

On its website, Parkguard describes its role as to “fill gaps within current public service provision… increasing public reassurance and improving community safety.”

Cllr Khan added: “We are leading the way tackling violent crime and ASB in London. Our Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) brings together a range of organisations from the public and private sectors to work more closely to tackle ASB and build safer, stronger communities.

“We have already seen notable success – in 2019, a trial of our VRP approach in the St James St area saw a 38 per cent reduction in knife crime in the trial area.”