It has been revealed that Croydon Council is spending thousands of pounds to hire private detectives.

Following a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Croydon Guardian, it was unearthed that since January of 2014, £32,841 had been spent by the council on the specialist sleuths.

The question was then posed to council, why it was spending taxpayers' money in such a way.

A council spokeswoman defended the costs and said it was all to do with tackling crime in the area.

"We are committed to tackling fraud and we will always seek the toughest penalties for those who abuse the system to the cost of our taxpayers," she said.

"In order to gather evidence for the courts, we have needed to hire external companies with the specific skills and equipment to carry out surveillance."

But have the investments paid off?

The spokeswoman said they had.

"This investment has helped us bring perpetrators to justice, ensuring that our taxpayers are not footing the bill for fraud and deterring other would-be offenders.”

For comparison, a similar request was submitted to neighbouring borough Merton Council, who said that no private detectives had been employed over that same time period.

James Price is the campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, as well as being a Croydon resident.

He commended the council's commitment to catching the crooks, but was worried the money could be better spent.

"It's very important that people don't get away with non-payments of council tax, as it raises the costs for law-abiding taxpayers and encourages more crime, as well as being morally wrong," he said.

"It is equally important that we discover whether using private detectives is more cost-effective than alternatives.

"We also need to have confidence that any investigations into residents is proportionate and fair, and does not abuse our rights to privacy."