Max Menon, chairman of Croydon Business Improvement District, has warned the group may pull out of an agreement to provide police officers leaving the town centre with a skeleton staff of just five officers.

Croydon BID contributes, a fifth of its annual income, about £200,000, to pay for five police for the town centre, an offer match-funded by the Metropolitan police.

Following the announcement by Borough Commander Dave Musker the number of town centre police could be cut from 22 to 10, Mr Menon said this offer could end.

He said: “It is subject to negotiation. There is a chance it could end. We agreed to pay for five police on the understanding it would be match-funded. If the number drops to 10 effectively you could say we are funding the entire town centre police force. That is not right.

“Croydon BID was not established to fund the police or the council, but because the business community wanted to do something extra.”

He warned a drop in police numbers would lead to a rise in crime in the town.

He said: “I think it is inevitable. This will see the police become a reactive force. We have had results, crime in the town centre has been coming down. We had the aberration of the riots, and we need the extra help to make the perception of Croydon better. We still haven’t picked up the footfall that was seen before the riots and we need to convince people that Croydon is safe.”