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Security guards given police powers

Private security guards are gaining limited policing powers under a Government scheme to relieve the petty crime burden on forces.

They will be legally allowed to combat under-age drinking, begging and anti-social behaviour around one of Britain's busiest transport hubs.

Scotland Yard is accrediting 15 security guards from Ultimate Security Services with limited powers to operate around Victoria coach and train stations in central London.

Officers hope the scheme will relieve the strain on both the Met and British Transport Police services.

The security guards now have the power to request a name and address for a string of offences including criminal damage, begging and anti-social behaviour; confiscate alcohol being consumed within a designated public place or by a person under the age of 18 years; and confiscate cigarettes from under 16s.

The security guards will also be able to stop cyclists riding on footpaths.

Ruth Duston, chief executive of Victoria Business Improvement District, said the security guards provide extra "ears and eyes for SW1".

"The scheme will help to provide a safe and secure destination for all who live, work and visit the area," she added.

The Community Safety Accreditation Scheme is a Home Office initiative enabling force chiefs to designate targeted police powers to private firms.

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