The first private police force in Britain is ready to start operations by protecting homes for £1 a week.
Retired Metropolitan Police officer Stewart Brown, 56, and ex-Hampshire officer Stephen Rowney, 50, will provide 24-hour cover of neighbourhoods with four other staff.
Wearing navy blue uniforms and driving a patrol car, they will report suspicious activity to Staffordshire police.
Homeowners in a trial scheme in the Hartshill and Penkhull areas of Stoke-on-Trent who pay the £1 weekly charge also get burglar and panic alarms linked to a rapid response unit.
Brown, who served with the Met for 33 years, said: ‘It is not a rent-a-cop scheme.
‘We are offering a contract between the homeowners and ourselves to protect their homes and patrol the streets. This is another level of policing.
‘When I started as a policeman in 1977, the cops went to everything. Now you are lucky if you see one in a day.’ His partner, Rowney, said: ‘I don’t like the idea of police privatisation, but you can’t fight the tide, we have to go with it.’
Police and crime commissioner, Matthew Ellis, said he would not support ‘anything that involves residents paying for services the police should be providing.’