Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by UNISON


  1.1.  UNISON is the majority trade union representing police support staff. We have 27,000 members in all forces, except in the Met, in England, Scotland and Wales and also in the National Crime Squad and National Criminal Intelligence Service.

  1.2  UNISON joined the Home Office Police Reform Steering Forum in early 2001 and we have reflected positively on the input we have been able to make within the reform programme on behalf of our members. This has been the first occasion on which UNISON has been properly involved in a Home Office police reform process.

  1.3  This briefing provides a commentary on the main provisions of the Reform Bill as they affect police support staff.


  2.1  The Police Reform Bill and the preceding White Paper aim to extend and enhance the role of police support staff and promise an increase in the status and training of our members.

  2.2.  The changes in role and powers proposed for support staff are aimed at removing outdated constraints on what our members can do in the fight against crime and disorder. They also aim to relieve administrative and bureaucratic demands on police officers which prevent officers from spending more time on the beat. These changes have been long standing UNISON objectives and they have our wholehearted support


  (Numbering below relates to clauses in the Bill)

Part 2  Complaints and Misconduct

9.   The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)

  It is possible that police support staff, exercising new police powers granted by the Bill, will find themselves accountable to the IPCC in relation to those powers. UNISON expects consultation on this issue.

Part 4  Police Powers Etc.

Chapter 1.   Exercise of Police Powers etc by civilians

33.  Police Powers for Police Authority Employees (see also Schedule 4)


  UNISON is open minded about the concept of the CSO. We believe that it requires more work to define its potential remit and its boundaries with other police and community safety roles.

  Many of the powers identified for CSOs in Schedule 4 would fit easily within an expanded police traffic warden service. UNISON launched its "Safe Roads/Civil Streets" campaign to modernise the Traffic Warden Service in February 2002.

  UNISON believes that the majority of powers proposed for CSOs are workable. But we have reservations about the use of reasonable force by CSOs to detain suspects, because:

    —  The power to detain with force will be indistinguishable in the eyes of the public from the power to arrest which should remain the sole province of a sworn constable.

    —  The definition of "reasonable force" would be difficult to agree in the context of potentially volatile "street" situations

    —  It would place our members in an extremely vulnerable position from a personal safety and legal point of view.


  UNISON strongly supports the additional powers for Investigating Officers set out in Schedule 4. These will enable our scenes of crime officer members and financial and high tec crime investigators to carry out their work far more efficiently and effectively.


  UNISON supports the powers for detention officers set out in Schedule 4. These will enable our detention officer members to work more effectively and safely. However, the bill fails to give our members the power to use reasonable force to restrain detainees under their charge and we seek the inclusion of this additional power in the Bill.


  UNISON supports these new powers which may, in many cases, accrue to existing detention officers.

34.  Community Safety Accreditation Schemes

  UNISON supports the concept of ACSOs, which flow logically out of Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships, but ACSOs must:

    —  Not substitute for work currently carried out by the police but add value and resources to wider community safety initiatives.

    —  Be accredited by Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships not just by Chief Constables. The role of police authorities and local authorities in consulting local communities on potential ACSOs will be vital to their legitimacy and support. And we believe the Bill should reflect this.

  UNISON's concerns at the accreditation of private sector ACSOs are that:

    —  The private sector is not accountable to the local community by any existing mechanism.

    —  The private sector is not covered by the requirements of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 and therefore not bound by the same high equality standards as the police service in service delivery.

    —  UNISON research has shown conclusively that 83 per cent of the general public want public services run by directly employed public sector staff, not the private sector.

    —  The granting of police powers to staff working for private sector ACSOs raises the disturbing prospect of "private policing" in the UK.

37.  Removal of Restriction on Powers conferred on Traffic Wardens

  The power to stop moving vehicles for Traffic Wardens has been a long standing campaign objective of UNISON. Its inclusion in the Bill will strengthen the role of the police Traffic Warden Service immeasurably and help our members in the fight against traffic crime.

40.  Offences against designated or accredited persons

  UNISON welcomes this clause which will provide the necessary legal protection for our members when exercising new roles and powers.


  There is much for UNISON to welcome in the Police Reform Bill. The extension of police powers to key groups of our support staff membership will add to the capacity of the police service to effectively tackle crime and disorder.

  More work needs to be done to define the role and boundaries of the proposed Community Support Officer role.

  We seek to include in the Bill:

    —  The power for detention officers to use reasonable force to restrain detainees.

    —  A statutory responsibility for Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships to Accredit Community Safety Organisations (ACSOs).

  UNISON is opposed to the extension of police powers to staff working for private sector Accredited Community Safety Organisations.

  Police support staff terms and conditions need to be modernised to match the reform agenda.


February 2002

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