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Hundreds more civilians get powers to fine people and demand personal details
09-27-2011, 09:17 AM,
#1
Hundreds more civilians get powers to fine people and demand personal details
Quote:Thousands of civilians have been given sweeping police-style powers allowing them to fine people and demand personal details.

Following a worrying expansion of a discredited Labour project, more than 2,200 civilians including street wardens, housing officers, traffic marshals and stewards can issue financial penalties for ‘offences’ such as dropping litter, dog fouling and truancy.

Coalition ministers have allowed the numbers signed up to the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme to grow by a third over just 12 months.

It comes despite senior Liberal Democrats and Tories strongly condemning the scheme when in opposition.

Under it, councils and private sector firms pay a few hundred pounds for accreditation by the local police force.

They then pay as little as £32 for each employee they want to be accredited. Those chosen undergo a short training course and are given a uniform and a special badge approved by the Chief Constable.

As well as handing out fines of up to £80, the accredited civilians – dubbed ‘Jacqui Smith’s Irregulars’ after the former Labour home secretary – can photograph members of the public and demand their names and addresses.

It is an offence to refuse to provide such details when they ask. But they have no power to detain or arrest and must call a police officer or PCSO.

Before the election, former shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve – who is now Attorney General – said the scheme was ‘a consequence of the Government’s obsession with policing on the cheap’. And Chris Huhne, now a Cabinet minister, said the scheme was part of the ‘slow march towards instant justice’.

But Home Office documents uncovered by the Mail reveal a startling expansion of the CSAS last year.

Hundreds of organisations have signed up, including councils, shopping centres, Newmarket Racecourse, the Essex YMCA and the British Cycling Federation.

There are huge concentrations of accredited civilians in some areas – including 366 in Essex, 223 in Gwent, and 124 in Cleveland.

In Merseyside, Bedfordshire and Cumbria, by contrast, the police forces do not operate the scheme at all.

Simon Reed, vice chairman of the Police Federation, said: ‘I’m sure that the public would have huge concerns knowing that we have people walking around in this pseudo-enforcement role without proper accountability and legitimacy.’

Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘In some cases this appears to be policing on the cheap, in others it is downright ridiculous. The Coalition should recognise the risk this scheme poses to civil liberties and urgently act to curtail it.’

In May, the Mail requested details of the numbers accredited under the scheme from Home Office officials, using the Freedom of Information Act.

Officials initially refused to answer, claiming a policy review was under way, but they have since done so, revealing that in 2008, 1,406 individuals were accredited under CSAS. That increased by almost a fifth to 1,667 the following year. But by the end of last year the total had rocketed to 2,219, a rise of 33 per cent.

In 2008 there were 95 ‘approved organisations’ allowed to enrol individuals onto the scheme.

By December last year that figure hit 153, up more than 60 per cent.

If the numbers accredited have continued to grow at the same rate the total will now be approaching 3,000.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Creating safer communities isn’t just a job for the police, it’s about all of us taking responsibility for the areas where we live and working with the police to challenge and tackle low level crime and anti-social behaviour.

‘Accredited persons assist the police and the public in dealing with low level crime and disorder.

‘CSAS frees up police time, allowing officers to respond to more serious crime, and providing a localised partnership approach to keeping the public safe.’

The British Cycling Federation said the powers allowed volunteers to act as traffic marshals during road races.

A spokesman said: ‘This has been a useful tool to keep the police costs down.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2042204/Hundreds-civilians-powers-fine-people-demand-personal-details.html
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09-27-2011, 01:51 PM,
#2
RE: Hundreds more civilians get powers to fine people and demand personal details
I'm submitting a Freedom of Information Request (Under the FOIA) to North Wales police to find out how many they have on the scheme, have just spoken to them via the phone to find where to submit the request, so will do that this evening and post it when it's dealt with (up to 60 days).

Interesting to know such a small force spend £15,000 on average on informants each year. Wink
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