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Commissioner initiates Home Office re-think over PCSO powers

Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping has welcomed a decision by the Home Office to consider expanding PCSO legal powers.

Commissioner Tipping wrote to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, in August appealing for the Government to rethink the current raft of powers available to PCSOs and amend legislation to allow Chief Constables to alter their responsibilities on a discretionary basis.

The move is partly the result of challenging financial circumstances in which police resources are continually shrinking and officers are required to cope with an ever increasing workload. It is also in response to the growing number of residents and local police officers who have voiced support for broadening the role of PCSOs to increase enforcement of low-level crime.

After successfully lobbying the Government, Commissioner Tipping said the Home Office had announced plans to formally consult policing organisations and members of the public over its considerations to extend the powers available to PCSOs.

Responding to the announcement, Commissioner Tipping said: “I warmly welcome this news which proves the Government is taking seriously our calls to enhance PCSO powers and increase their ability to deliver justice.

“PCSOs are a highly valuable part of the policing family and help increase feelings of safety within our communities. It seems incongruous that in the current financial climate, when forces are constantly striving for efficiency, PCSOs are not given greater powers to deal with minor offences which could release police officers to focus on more serious incidents.

“Road safety remains one of the biggest concerns of Nottinghamshire residents. Currently, a PCSO can operate a speed gun and stop a driver but only a police officer can issue the driver with a Traffic Offence Report for the offence which takes them away from more serious issues. Extending the scope of PCSO responsibilities in areas such as road traffic management makes economic sense and will improve our capacity, in line with public expectation.

“I hope the public and criminal justice organisations in the county will take this opportunity to take part in the consultation and support these proposals.” 

The Home Office is proposing to introduce additional discretionary powers to extend the current list of duties available to PCSOs as well as remove legislative barriers allowing the Secretary of State to make amendments to the list of powers by order.

Current powers support PCSOs in tackling low-level crime and disorder and include an ability to issue fixed penalty notices for cycling on a footpath, littering, dog control offences and powers to require name and address for anti-social behaviour. They also have a range of discretionary powers that can be designated by chief officers including power to enforce park trading offences and to stop vehicles for testing. 

New PCSO powers currently being considered include dispersal powers and the power to request someone hands over property, to issue a Community Protection Notice (CPN) and to issue a community remedy which gives a victim a say in the punishment used where a Chief Constable has agreed such powers.

To improve road safety, PCSOs will also be given the power to issue a fixed penalty notice to those guilty of committing a number of offences including:

  • Parking in a restricted area outside schools
  • Failing to stop for a police constable
  • Driving the wrong way down a one-way street
  • Sounding a horn when stationary
  • Sounding a horn at night
  • Not stopping engine when stationary
  • Causing unnecessary noise
  • Contravening bus lane

The consultation is open until Friday, December 20 and responses should be sent to the Home Office at Faye.Ricketts4@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk & Nici.Hosfield@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Ends

Media Enquiries:   Sallie Blair - 01283 821012 / 07702 541401

 

Posted on Wednesday 18th December 2013
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