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Coronavirus (COVID-19): the policing response and what you need to know

New officer verification process put in place

From today, we’re introducing a new officer verification process for members of the public who would like to confirm the identity of any Avon and Somerset officer they come into contact with.

We fully recognise the onus is on us as a police service to reassure people who have concerns about lone officers and the reason for their interaction with them.

As such, all our officers will provide their name and collar number to anyone who asks and will call the control room on their police radio asking an operator to confirm their identity and location, putting their radio on loudspeaker so the member of the public can hear the response.

As well as verbally confirming the officer’s identity, the control room operator will also send a reference number to the officer’s radio which the member of the public can visually check.

All officers are equipped with body worn video cameras and they will also make clear to people it is switched on and recording. Officers are unable to edit or wipe footage from these body worn cameras.

Of course, if the member of the public prefers, they can also call the control room themselves on 101, or 999 if they feel in danger. The same verification process will be then be followed, with a reference number being provided to the caller and sent to the officer’s radio.

 

FAQs

We hope the following frequently asked questions provide some reassurance about the action we are taking to rebuild the trust and confidence of our communities.

What do I do if I am approached by a lone police officer and I feel uncomfortable? Can I ask for a second officer to be sent?

If you are approached by an individual male or female officer, working in uniform or plain clothes and you feel that you want to check their identity, you can now ask for the additional verification check to take place if our officers have not already proactively offered this to you.

As such, all our officers will provide their name and collar number and will call the control room on their police radio asking an operator to confirm their identity and location, putting their radio on loudspeaker so the member of the public can hear the response.

As well as verbally confirming the officer’s identity, the control room operator will also check the officer is on duty at that time, has provided the right collar number and is showing in the location that they have stopped the member of the public. They will send a reference number to the officer’s radio which the member of the public can visually check.

If you are still concerned and would prefer an additional officer to attend, you should ask the attending officer this and they will contact our control room to alert our closest, available officer to assist.

Will I ever be stopped by a plain clothes police officer? If so, should I challenge their legitimacy?

In the vast majority of circumstances, it is our uniformed officers and staff who have interactions with our public. However, we do have officers working in plain clothes, carrying out hugely important work to tackle serious crimes in our county, such as County Lines drug dealing or serious organised crime. We also have detectives who do not work in uniform, who are also carrying out investigations into serious crime

If you are stopped by a plain clothes officer working alone then you can absolutely ask for a verification check (as described above) to provide you with that reassurance.

How can I be sure that it is genuinely the Avon and Somerset Police control room that the officer is contacting for verification?

If you prefer, you can also call the control room themselves on 101, or 999 if you feel in danger. The same verification process will be followed, with a reference number being provided to the caller and sent to the officer’s radio.

Are you going to give people time to confirm an officer’s identity before an arrest?

Our officers and staff are all fully aware that members of the public may seeking additional reassurance at this time and will be considerate of those individuals who wish to verify their credentials and the reason for the interaction.

What should I do if I still have concerns or if the officer is not able to provide reassurance of who they are?

If you still have concerns about the identity of a police officer, you can also call the control room yourself on 101, or dial 999 if you feel you are in immediate danger.

How do I make a complaint about my interaction with a police officer?

We are committed to providing a high standard of service. However, there may be occasions when you feel dissatisfied with some aspects of the service and want to make a complaint. Receiving complaints is a valuable way for us to learn and improve.

If you feel dissatisfied with the conduct or behaviour of a police officer, member of police staff, or special constable then there are a number of ways you can make a complaint. These are explained in the complaints section of our website.