Vanessa Allen, Daily Mail (London), August 14, 2009
Worried parents are hiring security guards to escort their children home from school.
Mothers in middle-class suburbs have turned to the private patrols over fears that their children could be attacked.
The guards meet children from the school bus and ensure they reach their homes safely.
Abi Mohamed, head of a security firm in Hampstead, North-West London, said his company had been contacted by teenage girls who were too scared to go home alone.
His firm, Hocroft Trading and Security, already offered a ‘Meet and Greet’ service to women who felt vulnerable returning home alone and has now extended it to include their children.
The pupils use their mobile phones to call the security guards if they want an escort.
Mr Mohamed said: ‘Three 15-year-old girls started calling every single day. As soon as they come off the bus, we go and meet them and we will follow them home.’
He said his firm received 25 to 30 calls a day. He believed a spate of robberies in Hampstead had increased the fear of crime, with women targeted as they let themselves into their homes.
Fashion designer Nicole Farhi was strangled until she passed out and had to plead with her attackers not to stab her.
Peter Williams, who runs private security firm London Community Services, said his guards also offered the ‘Meet and Greet’ service to women and would extend it to children if their parents wanted.
Mother-of-two Victoria Dennis, 34, said she often used Mr Williams’s ex- Gurkha guards when she was returning home alone with her children.
She added: ‘When it’s dark I call the Meet and Greet service on the school run so they’re at my house to meet me. I would definitely use it for my children when they are older.’
Private security is a £4.3billion industry in Britain, according to British Security Industry Association figures.
Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair has said Britain risks becoming like parts of South Africa where private guards are seen as essential for the middle-class and wealthy.
Detective Constable Reg Pickering, who headed an investigation that led to two brothers being jailed for a series of ‘strangulation robberies’ on wealthy women in London, said he believed the private firms canvassed robbery victims.
‘They are providing a service and it reassures people that someone is going to be at their door when they return home,’ he added.