The private security industry can help public services deal with catastrophic events like flooding, especially in the current climate of financial constraints, the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) has said.

Cornwall was hit by severe flooding last week. Hundreds of homes were damaged and had to be evacuated, and there was disruption to transport infrastructure.

The BSIA says the private security sector can play a pivotal role in helping police forces, that are already "stretched to the limit", deal with the challenges brought about by such natural disasters.

In 2007, for example, 900 homes and 17 businesses were flooded by heavy rain in Gloucestershire. Discussing the situation recently at a BSIA event, the chief inspector of the county's police force, Derek Jones, said that the cleanup operation of what was "the largest peace time emergency since the Second World War" was significantly assisted by one of the organisation's members.

"The security team that we worked with had a positive and flexible approach. Whatever I asked for, the answer was yes, and they provided a great deal of reassurance. The escalation of confidence soon increased."

According to the BBC, some people were trapped in water six foot deep during the recent Cornwall floods.ADNFCR-3337-ID-800252289-ADNFCR