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Paper 5 - 30 January 2004 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

30 January 2004

ACCREDITED COMMUNITY SAFETY OFFICER  SCHEME

Report by the Chief Constable
________________________________________________________________________

RECOMMENDATION

That Members consider the Accredited Community Officer Safety Scheme.
________________________________________________________________________

1. The Police Reform Act permits the Chief Constable to establish and maintain an accreditation scheme for Community Support Officers, provided that he has consulted with the Police Authority and with each Local Authority in the force Area. A draft for consultation has been prepared and is attached. This was sent out to Chief Executives on 12 November 2003.

2. Public demand for uniform foot patrol on the streets continues and it has recently become recognised that police officers are not the only way of fulfilling that role. It is now commonplace in certain areas to see warden schemes providing a highly visible, uniformed, official presence in public areas, town centres and areas of high crime. The Police Reform Act 2002 enables Chief Officers to accredit and quality assure other members of the extended police family who, unlike Police Community Safety Officers, are not directly employed by the police, to further the commitment of those already involved crime reassurance and reduction. The Police will accredit relevant individuals, employed by suitable organisations, and co-ordinate local schemes. By acquiring powers under the Police Reform Act, accredited community safety officers may enable police officers to have more time to concentrate on the core policing functions. However, they will primarily have an enhanced ability to address anti-social behaviour themselves.

3. A summary of the powers of an Accredited Person is as follows:

ˇ Issue of Fixed Penalty Notices for dog fouling, littering and riding a bicycle on a footpath
ˇ
Request a name and address for Fixed Penalty Offences and Offences that cause injury alarm and distress to another person or loss to another’s property
ˇ
Request a name and address of a person acting in an anti-social manner
ˇ
Confiscate alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco products from young persons
ˇ
Regulate traffic for the purpose of escorting abnormal loads
ˇ
Require the removal of abandoned vehicles
ˇ
Stop a vehicle for the purpose of testing in accordance with section 67 of the Road Traffic Act 1988

4. Hampshire Constabulary was the first force in the country to accredit community safety officers. Five officers employed by Southampton City Council were accredited on the 5th December 2003 and a further four officers are proposed in the near future. The officers provide a highly visible patrol in clearly marked vehicles and have undertaken joint patrols with police officers, which have proved very successful. Hampshire Constabulary has taken a slightly different approach to other forces in the country in that it has accredited officers whilst the consultation process is still taking place. A draft document has been created but this will be enhanced and updated as time goes on to take into account the experience gained.

5. The scheme was discussed at the Chief Executives` Group meeting on the 9th January 2004 and generally received a positive response. Members views are now invited.

PAUL KERNAGHAN
Chief Constable

Date: 14 January 2004
Annex: 1
Contact: Inspector Julie Rawson, ACSO Project Co-ordinator. Community Safety 01962 841767

ANNEX

The Hampshire Constabulary 
Community Safety Accreditation Scheme

Consultation Draft 1

October 2003

1.0

 

Community Safety Accreditation Scheme

1.1

 

The Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary, for the purposes of

 

 

a) contributing to community safety and security; and

 

 

b) combating crime and disorder, public nuisance and other forms of anti-social behaviour,

 

 

does herewith establish and maintain this scheme, in order that some powers normally available to constables, may be conferred on persons accredited under the scheme.  Those persons shall be Accredited Community Safety Officers (ACSOs).

 

 

 

1.2

 

Upon application, the Chief Constable will grant accreditation to a person, provided he is satisfied that:
 

 

 

a) the person's employer is a fit and proper person to supervise the carrying out of the functions for the purposes of which the accreditation is to be granted;  (See 2., below)

 

 

(b) the person himself is a suitable person to exercise the powers that will be conferred on him by virtue of the accreditation; (See 3., below)

 

 

(c) the person is capable of effectively carrying out the functions for the purposes of which those powers are to be conferred on him; and (See 4., below)

 

 

(d) the person has received adequate training for the exercise of those powers. (See 4., below)
 

 

 

In deciding whether or not to accredit, the Chief Constable will have regard to recommendations made by the BCU Commander for the area in which the Accredited Community Safety Officers (ACSO) will be employed, or to recommendations made by Chief Superintendent, Community Safety Department in respect of ACSOs who may be employed across BCU Boundaries.  
 

1.3

 

This scheme also contains requirements for making arrangements with employers of accredited persons so that those employers will supervise accredited persons in the exercise of conferred powers (see 5., below) and to ensure satisfactory arrangements exist for handling complaints against accredited persons relative to the exercise of their conferred powers. (See 6., below)
 

1.4

 

An application for accreditation will be made by an employer in two parts.   The first part will give the general provisions for selecting, training and supervising ACSOs, and for maintaining a system for dealing with complaints, in accordance with paragraphs 2.0 to 6.0 below, and will confirm that the employer is a fit and proper person to supervise the carrying out of the functions for the purposes of which the accreditation is to be granted.  Advice and assistance may be obtained from the BCU Commander or from Chief Inspector, Community Safety Dept.  The second part will be an application for an individual and will demonstrate that they are suitable, capable and have received adequate training, under the terms of the first part of the application. 
 

1.5

 

No fees will be collected by the Chief Constable in respect of considering an application or granting accreditation, nor for pre-employment vetting of proposed ACSOs
 

2.0

 

Suitability of Employers
 

 

 

The Chief Constable considers that the Hampshire County Council and the Unitary and District Authorities in the Force area or are fit and proper persons to supervise the carrying out of the functions.  Other large private or public sector employers with current “Charter Mark” or “Investors in People” awards are also considered as fit and proper persons.  Smaller companies, public bodies, and voluntary sector employers who do not have such awards will be asked to provide documentation to demonstrate that they have policies in relation to equal opportunities, health and safety, racial equality/diversity/fair service provision, and staff appraisal.
 

3.0

 

Pre-accreditation vetting
 

3.1

 

Those working in the community safety and security sector are likely to qualify for a standard criminal records check as they will often be working in the course of their normal duties with children and vulnerable persons. 
 

3.2

 

When seeking accreditation, applicants fall under the exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 Order (1975 no.1023) Schedule 1, Part II, paragraph 6,

“…persons employed for the purposes of, or to assist the constables of, a police force established under any enactment”.

A standard check through the Criminal Records Bureau will reveal both current and spent criminal convictions held on the PNC.   The employee must agree to the standard check and sign the application form (Appendix A) to indicate his/her agreement.  
 

3.3

 

Once a standard disclosure has been provided a decision will be made on whether any convictions or cautions revealed in it should bar an employee from being accredited.  The Chief Constable is aware that an Accredited Person, whether exercising powers or not, will have an enhanced status and will be in a position of trust in the community.  A high standard is expected,  and the Chief Constable will  apply the standard on criminal convictions used for police staff.  An extract from the Home Office guidance is included at Appendix B. 

4.0

 

Training and assessment 

4.1

 

An ACSO must be capable of effectively carrying out the functions for which he or she is seeking accreditation.  The employer has a role here in ensuring that the employees put forward are physically capable and that in their opinion they have the necessary personal qualities.  One aspect of capability is the training provided to the employee. 
 

4.2

 

Employees seeking accreditation should have had training that covers these topics:

§         Roles and Responsibilities (including code of conduct)
§        
Basic Legal Knowledge (including citizens arrest, human rights, legislation relevant to role).
§        
Specific to powers sought under Schedule 5 of the Police Reform Act.
§        
Communication skills (should include conflict management, assertiveness, and use of any communication equipment such as phones or radios).
§        
Reports (should cover when to make records of incidents, recording and reporting procedures, use of notebooks)
§        
Health and Safety (including personal safety, risk assessment and actions to take, and basic first aid)
§        
Diversity/Community and Race Relations (covering diversity awareness, fairness, prejudice and stereotyping, anti-discriminatory practice, Equal Opportunities, Race Relations and Disability Discrimination Acts).
 

4.3

 

Some form of assessment or knowledge check must be included in any training.
 

4.4

 

Information on the training received will form part of the application for accreditation.  
 

4.5

 

The Chief Constable recommends that a record of training should be maintained by the employer for each ACSO, and that such a record should show:

§        
Course title
§        
Tutor name and qualification
§        
Dates employee attended
§        
Syllabus and details of topics covered
§        
Copy of any certificate awarded 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.0

 

Management and supervision
 

5.0

 

Supervision of the exercise of powers by ACSOs is essential.  Employers are required to demonstrate the means by which this will be accomplished.  
 

5.1

 

Whether or not the supervisor is accredited, he or she must be trained in the use of powers.
 

5.2

 

Supervision will extend to documents produced in the course of the use of powers to ensure that the powers have been used properly and that the documents have been completed to a satisfactory standard. 
 

 5.3

 

 

Some on-street supervision will be required.  Employers must describe how that supervision will be accomplished, including frequency.

 

5.4

 

Records must be kept of the use of powers by accredited persons.
 

6.0

 

Complaints
 

6.1

 

Employers must show that they deal effectively with complaints and take action to address identified failures.  The minimum criteria for a acceptable complaints procedure are:
 

 

 

1.

The existence of a Code of Conduct for employees, which is familiar to them;
 

 

 

2.

The existence of a published, accessible and easy to use, complaints procedure.  It should include a commitment to deal with complaints within a specific time limit whenever possible.  Some complaints will relate to legal process, (for example persons disputing the evidence against them on receipt of a Fixed Penalty Notice) and will question the legality of that process.

Other complaints will relate to alleged misconduct of ACSOs.  The complaints procedure should detail the manner in which all types of complaints will be dealt with, resolving any conflicts which might arise from the investigation of a complaint allied to other proceedings;
 

 

 

3.

That guidance and training are given to staff in handling and recording complaints; and
 

 

 

4.

That records of complaints and the action taken to deal with them are maintained. 
 

6.2

 

In every case where misconduct of an ACSO is proven, the employer will inform the Chief Constable by providing a written summary of the allegation and circumstances and of any sanctions and with details of previous misconduct.   The Chief Constable will review the accreditation and may revoke it depending upon the gravity or the number of instances of the misconduct. 
 

6.3

 

Normally, complaints made to the police about the conduct of ACSOs will be referred to the employer, and for that reason, the employer will nominate a contact who will receive and act upon those details.  The exception will be when the complaint amounts to an allegation of criminal behaviour, in which case a police investigation will ensue.

APPENDIX A (PDF Document)

APPENDIX B

Extract from Home Office Guidance on Applicants with Criminal Convictions

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 provides that the Act shall not apply to the police service.  Police forces are therefore entitled to ask prospective applicants to reveal spent convictions during the recruitment or vetting process.

The criminal convictions criteria defined by this policy must be used to assess each application on an individual basis.  It is not an exhaustive list.  There may be circumstances where an individual does not fall within the criteria, but whose suspected involvement in crime, or criminal associations make an offer of employment inappropriate.

Applications should be rejected if an applicant has been convicted or cautioned for a serious arrestable offence such as:

      ·        Treason
·       
Murder
·       
Manslaughter
·       
Rape
·       
Kidnapping
·       
Incest/intercourse with a girl under 13
·       
Buggery with a boy under 16 or a person who has not consented
·       
Gross indecency
·       
Hostage taking, hi-jacking or torture
·       
Involvement in espionage, terrorism, sabotage or any actions to overthrow/undermine parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means or association (past or present) with any organisation advocating such activities
·       
Death by reckless driving
·       
Firearms offences

Convictions which will lead to rejection unless there are very compelling circumstances, include;

      ·        Offences involving serious violence or injury including GBH and ABH
·       
Offences involving unsolicited violence towards others
·       
Unlawful possession of weapons, firearms or going equipped to steal
·       
Acts of indecency
·       
Abuse or neglect of children
·       
Public order offences, involvement in riot, violent disorder, affray, causing intentional harassment alarm or distress
·       
Racially motivated or homophobic offences
·       
Interference with the administration of justice or investigation of offences
·       
Burglary
·       
Offences which involve elements or acts of dishonesty, corruption, substantial financial gain or serious loss to anyone including theft, fraud and deception
·       
Serious involvement in drugs including possession of Class  drugs or more than one Class B drug and/or supplying drugs of any kind
·       
Reckless or dangerous driving within the last 10 years
·       
One offence of drink driving or drunk in charge within the preceding 10 years
·       
More than one offence of drink driving, drunk in charge or drugs driving
·       
Other serious motoring offences such as convictions within the last 5 years of driving without insurance, failing to stop after an accident or driving whilst disqualified
·       
More than three endorsable traffic convictions (including FPN’S) within the last 5 years (for offences on different dates)
·       
Any offence committed as an adult or juvenile which resulted in a prison sentence (including custodial, suspended or deferred sentence and sentences served at a young offenders institution or community home)
·       
Cautions (includes reprimands and final warnings) for recordable offences within the last 5 years
·       
Juvenile convictions within the last 5 years for any recordable offence
·       
Any recordable offence other than listed above within the last 5 years

An applicant’s age at the time of an offence and the aggravating circumstances surrounding the offence will have a bearing in the following cases;

      ·        Drunk and disorderly – no more than one offence and only after 2 years have elapsed following a caution or 3 years have elapsed following a conviction/bind over
·       
Minor drugs offences or substance abuse – no more than one offence and only after 2 years have elapsed following a caution or 3 years from conviction
·       
Common assault – no more than one offence as a  juvenile or young adult and only after 2 years have elapsed from conviction/bind over 

Last update: 19/01/2004
Author: Nick Goulder, Director

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