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
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
1.3 This briefing provides a commentary
on the main provisions of the Reform Bill as they affect police
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
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for support staff are aimed at removing outdated constraints on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
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
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
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
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
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
UNISON is opposed to the extension of police
powers to staff working for private sector Accredited Community
Police support staff terms and conditions need
to be modernised to match the reform agenda.