Community Safety Accreditation Scheme

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Community Safety Accreditation Schemes are a means by which the Chief Constable of a police force in the United Kingdom may grant a limited range of police powers to employees of non-police organisations who contribute towards community safety. Community Safety Accreditation Schemes were created under section 40 of the Police Reform Act 2002.[1] Individuals who have been granted these powers are known under the Act as Accredited Persons.

Powers[edit]

A Chief Constable may grant some or all of the following powers to an Accredited Person as part of a Community Safety Accreditation Scheme:[2]

  • The power to:
    • require the name and address of a person who has committed a criminal offence that causes injury, alarm and distress to another person or damage or loss of another's property, or to whom a penalty notices has been issued;
    • require the name and address of a person acting in an anti-social manner;
    • require a person to stop drinking in a designated public place and confiscate and dispose of alcohol being consumed in a designated place;
    • confiscate alcohol from young people;
    • confiscate cigarettes and tobacco products from young people;
    • require the removal of abandoned vehicles;
    • stop cyclists if they are suspected of having committed the offence of riding on a footpath;
    • stop a vehicle for the purposes of an inspection;
    • control traffic for the purpose of escorting abnormal loads, for the purpose of conducting a traffic survey, and for other purposes
    • require the name and address of a driver or pedestrian who fails to follow appropriate directions;
    • photograph a person who has been given a penalty notice away from a police station.
  • The power to issue a penalty notice for disorder for:
    • the sale of alcohol to person aged under 18;
    • buying or attempting to buy alcohol for consumption by a person aged under 18;
    • consumption of alcohol by a person aged under 18 or allowing such consumption;
    • delivery of alcohol to a person aged under 18 or allowing such delivery;
    • consumption of alcohol in a designated public space;
    • possession by a person aged under 18 of an adult firework;
    • possession of a some restricted fireworks;
    • breach of a fireworks curfew;
    • supply of excessively loud fireworks;
    • throwing fireworks in a thoroughfare;
    • wasting police time or giving a false report;
    • using the telephones in order to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety;
    • making hoax calls to the fire services;
    • behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress;
    • trespassing on a railway;
    • throwing stones, etc. at trains or other things on railways.

The powers available to individuals accredited under a Community Safety Accreditation Scheme are less than those of a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO).

The Act also makes it a criminal offence to assault, resist or obstruct an Accredited Person in the execution of their duty, impersonate an Accredited Person, or for an Accredited Person to suggest that they have powers which exceed the powers they actually hold.

Requirements for accreditation[edit]

A person accredited under a Community Safety Accreditation Scheme has to be assessed as suitable to exercise their extra powers, trained in their use and capable of carrying them out. The Act also requires that the organisation employing an accredited person must be 'fit and proper' and that they must have a satisfactory complaints procedure in place.[3]

An accredited person remains under the control of their normal employer, and is not managed by the police force. Therefore if an accredited person breaks the law, their employer, rather than the police, could be sued.[4]

The law requires that an accredited person wears a uniform approved by the police when exercising their powers, and that they also carry with them a badge with the logo shown and detailing the powers which they are entitled to exercise.[5]

Examples[edit]

Common examples of people granted powers under a Community Safety Accreditation Scheme include security guards, community, parish, park and dog wardens, beach patrols, trading standards officers, and housing association staff.

In the Avon and Somerset Constabulary area, examples of Schemes include:[6]

In the Essex Police area, employees of a number of organisations have been accredited:[7]

In the Hertfordshire Police area, accredited persons include:[8]

In the Nottinghamshire Police force area:

  • Community Protection Officers employed by the Community and Neighbourhood Protection Service of Nottingham City Council work alongside police officers and police community support officers.[9]
  • Community Protection Officers employed by Ashfield District Council work alongside police officers and police community support officers, in the Ashfield district of Nottinghamshire. They also work alongside Mansfield District Council wardens.[10]

Discussions are also underway to use the Scheme to give marshalls of on-road cycling events the power to stop and direct traffic.[11]

In the Sussex Police force area, Beacon Security is accredited to provide traffic marshals for the British Heart Foundation London to Brighton Cycle Ride 2014.

The Railway Safety Accreditation Scheme Regulations 2004[12] give the Chief Constable of the British Transport Police the power to establish similar schemes on the railway network.

Vehicle and Operator Services Agency employees can be given the power to stop vehicles in order to check for vehicle and driver compliance (mainly goods and passenger carrying vehicles), a right which until 2003 was only held by police officers.

Statistics[edit]

An audit published by the Home Office in August 2008[13] showed that 21 out of 42 police forces had granted Accredited Person status to a total of 1,406 people in 95 organisations. 19 of the employing organisations were private companies. Essex Police had accredited the most people, 291 individuals in 25 organisations.

The powers which had been granted most widely (by more than 20 forces) were the power to seize alcohol from a person aged under 18 in a designated place, the power to seize tobacco from a person under 16, and the power to require the name and address of a person acting in an anti-social manner.

In addition, 255 officers of the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency had been granted powers to stop lorries for checks on vehicle and driver compliance across England and Wales.

Controversy[edit]

Some commentators have criticised the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme for conferring police-like powers on non-police officers.[14][15][16] Amongst the criticism levelled at the Scheme are that it is an "unjustified extension of surveillance powers" and "snooping on the lives of ordinary citizens".[17]

The Police Federation, the organisation representing police officers, also opposes the Scheme, referring to it as "another way of bringing in private policing".[18]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Official text of the Police Reform Act 2002 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database
  2. ^ Schedule 5 of the Police Reform Act 2002. See also Powers available to persons accredited under Community Safety Accreditation Schemes, Home Office website, retrieved 29 August 2008
  3. ^ Section 41 of the Police Reform Act 2002
  4. ^ Section 42(10) of the Police Reform Act 2002
  5. ^ Section 42 of the Police Reform Act 2002
  6. ^ CSAS Outside Partners, Avon and Somerset Constabulary website, retrieved 29 August 2008
  7. ^ CSAS Accredited Organisations, Essex Police website, retrieved 29 August 2008
  8. ^ Community Safety Accreditation Scheme, Hertfordshire Police website, retrieved 29 August 2008
  9. ^ Protecting Nottingham’s communities, Nottingham City Council website, retrieved 24 September 2008
  10. ^ Community Protection Service, Ashfield District Council website, retrieved 9 February 2012
  11. ^ British Cycling website, retrieved 30 September 2008
  12. ^ Railway Safety Accreditation Scheme Regulations 2004 on the OPSI website.
  13. ^ Community Safety Accreditation Schemes national audit, Home Office website, retrieved 29 August 2008
  14. ^ Tories condemn rise in number of civilians given police powers, Guardian website 27 August 2008, retrieved 1 October 2008
  15. ^ Jackboot Jacqui's a Nazi piece of work, Daily Mail website 29 August 2008, retrieved 30 September 2008
  16. ^ Council staff to get police-style powers, Daily Star website 29 August 2008, retrieved 30 September 2008
  17. ^ Dominic Grieve, Conservative Shadow Home Secretary in Civilians given power to issue on-the-spot fines, Daily Telegraph website 27 August 2008, retrieved 30 September 2008
  18. ^ Community Accreditation Scheme comment, Police Federation website, retrieved 1 October 2008