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Questions from companies looking to become accredited
Why should organisations seek accreditation for their employees?
Employers benefit from public confidence that their employees have reached acceptable standards of appearance, suitability for the post (including vetting and competence) and training. The public is also assured that the organisation itself has reached acceptable standards in management, supervision and accountability. Their employees would be eligible for some minor police powers that could help to improve the impact they are having on community safety, anti-social behaviour and liveability issues.
What kind of organisation can apply for its employees to be accredited?
Employers in community safety or security roles who are engaged in the vital tasks of combating crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour may seek accreditation regardless of whether they are drawn from the public, private or voluntary sectors. local authorities, housing associations, local voluntary sector organisations, licensed private security firms, NHS trusts, charitable organisations and some companies in the leisure industry.
What powers can an Accredited Person have?
Powers will only be granted if they are appropriate to the role that is being performed and they assist the AP to be more effective in the role. They must also comply with local needs, policies and priorities.
The following powers are made available to APs in Schedule 5 of The Police Reform Act 2002:
- Request the name and address of a person acting in an antisocial manner
- Request the name and address for Fixed Penalty Notices and offences that cause alarm and distress to another person or damage or loss of another person’s property
- Issue Fixed Penalty Notices for dog fouling, littering and riding a bicycle on a footpath
- Require the removal of abandoned vehicles
- Confiscate alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco products from young people
- Stop a vehicle for testing
- Regulate traffic for the purpose of escorting abnormal loads (this is the only power which can be exercised throughout England and Wales).
The Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 extended the following to APs:
- Issue a Fixed Penalty Notice for graffiti and fly-posting
- Issue a Fixed Penalty Notice to parents whose children are involved in truancy
- Stop cyclists if they are suspected of having committed the offence of riding on a foot-way
- Issue Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs) under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001. Full guidance on the issuing of PNDs by Accredited Persons can be found on the Home Office website.
Section 89(7) of the Anti-social Behaviour Act ensures that APs are only able to issue those PNDs which are considered appropriate. It enables the Secretary of State to remove by order APs' power to issue PNDs available under section 1 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001. This includes any future PNDs added to this section.
Every AP will carry an identification card. This card sets out the powers an individual is trained and authorised to use. A person commits an offence if they fail to comply with any authorised request from an AP or fails to provide their name and address when required.
Must accredited organisations take up all available powers?
No. Local needs and problems vary from area to area, organisations may apply for some or all of the powers available. The decision to grant powers is at the sole discretion of the Chief Constable.
What standards need to be reached?
The Police Reform Act sets out a number of requirements on force chief officers before they can make an accreditation. They must be satisfied of the following:
- The employing organisation must have a satisfactory complaints procedure (PRA 2002 40)
- The employing organisation must be fit and proper person to supervise the work of an AP (PRA 2002 41[4a])
- The employee is suitable to exercise the powers that are to be conferred upon him (PRA 2002 41[4b])
- The employee is capable of effectively carrying out the functions for the purpose of which these powers are being conferred upon him (PRA 2002 41[4c])
- The employee has received adequate training for the exercise of these powers (PRA 2002 41[4d]).
What training is required to be accredited?
The Police Reform Act 2002 41(4d) states that a force chief officer may not grant accreditation unless he is satisfied that the person concerned has received adequate training for the exercise of his powers. It is therefore a matter for the chief officer to determine the exact extent of the training that the AP requires. This will vary depending on the role being carried out by the AP and the powers that are being included in their accreditation.
Don't the procedures that need to be carried out before somebody can be accredited duplicate the work of the Security Industry Authority?
No. The standards for licensing required by the SIA and those in the accreditation process will be consistent. It is likely though that accreditation standards will be higher than those required by the SIA because accreditation may give an individual access to certain police powers.
What if not all the employees of my organisation are suitable for accreditation?
This could happen. Not all of the employees an organisation puts forward may meet the standards required. There is no general solution to this problem and responses will differ depending on the numbers of employees affected, the deployment requirements of the employers and the views of the force. Potential solutions include only accrediting supervisors, the redeployment of those who do not meet the standards or choosing to postpone accreditation altogether. Whatever the favoured option it will clearly require sensitive management by the employers and the force.
Does accreditation cost anything?
Costs incurred by the police in the accreditation process can be passed on to the organisation concerned. These can include the costs of periodic re-assessment. The cost of actual accreditation schemes varies from force to force.
Who is liable if an Accredited Person is sued for unlawful conduct?
Accredited Persons remain under the control of their employer and, in the event of a civil action resulting from the unlawful conduct of an AP, the employer is held to be joint tortfeasor.
What happens when an accredited organisation has employees working in more than one police force area?
The Association of Chief Police Officers has issued guidance on Accreditation that addresses this issue. ACPO CPI receives and processes applications for approval from large national organisations in the private sector only. ACPO CPI will inform Chief Constables of companies in their areas that it recommends for approval.
Questions from members of the public
What are Community Safety Accreditation Schemes?
Community Safety Accreditation Schemes have been made possible through the Police Reform Act 2002 and aim to raise awareness, improve standards and promote and develop co-operation between the police and their partners. Accredited employees may be granted limited but targeted powers which are appropriate to their role and meet local needs and priorities. Improved information-sharing between the police and accredited organisations will help co-ordinate visible patrols and direct resources effectively to improve quality of life within the community.
How will the police and Accredited Persons work together?
A key part of the accreditation process is the development of Joint Operating and Information-Sharing Protocols between the applicant organisation and the accrediting force.
Is the government forcing organisations to seek accreditation for their employees?
No. The Police Reform Act 2002 makes it clear that setting up an accreditation scheme is at the discretion of the force chief officer after consultation. It is then a matter for local employers to decide whether they want their employees to be accredited and what, if any, powers they wish them to have.
Why should police forces begin an accreditation scheme?
By setting up accreditation schemes the police strengthen their links with organisations already contributing to community safety. Accreditation schemes help to ensure the standards of those working to assist them in their Force area. By making targeted powers available to those working to promote community safety, accreditation allows them to deal with problems without police presence and so save officer time. Accreditation also helps to improve the quantity and quality of police intelligence.
Under what conditions can Accredited Persons exercise their powers?
APs can only exercise their powers in the area of the Force that has accredited them (this is with the exception of the power to direct traffic for the purposes of escorting an abnormal load). APs must be clearly wearing the accreditation badge and must also be able to present, on request, a document detailing their accreditation. Accreditation will describe the APs' uniform.
Are Accredited Persons employed by the police?
No. APs remain under the full control of their employer. Where the police and the employer have together developed deployment arrangements and protocols, accreditation will strengthen this. However, accreditation does not require that the police direct the deployment of APs.
How do I complain about an Accredited Person?
Section 40(9) of the Police Reform Act 2002 states that it is the duty of a force chief officer who establishes a community safety accreditation scheme to ensure that the employers concerned have satisfactory arrangements for handling complaints. Each organisation that employs APs, therefore, will have its own complaints procedure to which members of the public should first apply.
What uniform do Accredited Persons wear?
Under Section 42(2) of the Police Reform Act, APs may only exercise the powers conferred on them in a uniform that has been approved by the force chief officer. None of the forces with accreditation schemes has required people accredited by them to change their uniform. A CSAS logo badge must be worn on the uniform of any AP before they can exercise any of the powers granted to them under an accreditation. Details of how the badge may be worn or used in logo form are set out in the style guide provided by the Home Office.
What is the difference between Accredited Persons and Police Community Support Officers?
Unlike APs, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) are employed by the Police Authority and act under the full control of the force chief officer. They are eligible for a similar, though slightly larger range of minor powers. A significant difference is that PCSOs can, in certain constabularies, detain a suspect for 30 minutes if they believe they have been given a false name and address. It is the policy of the Avon and Somerset Police Authority not to confer this power to PCSOs.
Why do we need both Police Community Support Officers and Accredited Persons?
The police and their partners in community safety have a range of options available to them for providing patrols in their communities. These include Police Community Support Officers, employees of local authorities, whether accredited or not, and private organisations’ employees, again both accredited and not.
The government’s view is that local decision-makers are best placed to decide what suits their area. Different places have used different combinations of the various options on offer. Many areas have found that the different types of patrol work well together and can complement each other’s roles.
How can I find out more?
Contact the Citizen Focus Policing Team on 101.