What is the Public Perception?
Today if you are walking along any High Street in the UK, you will see various uniformed men and women, employed as shopping centre security, private guards at commercial premises, park wardens and street wardens. At sporting and entertainment venues you will encounter uniformed stewards, and traffic marshals . Often wearing clothing that is hard to differentiate from that of a Police Constable who has sworn an oath to the Queen to uphold the law. All will have some capacity and duty for the safety and security of the public. No wonder that people get confused and bewildered!
Having had a full Police career, with a number of years leading a community team, I know and understand that policing today is not done in isolation. Partnerships and collaborations with other agencies in local neighbourhoods is necessary and good in the pursuit of prevention and detection of crime, reassuring communities that they can live safely and securely. Although the scheme has been in effect in some forces since 2003, overt uniformed community safety services is poorly understood. Although often mistaken for Police Officers, once discovered as not being so, they are often challenged about their authority and legality. Taxi drivers will state that only the police can stop them, young people under the age of 18 will challenge the right to have their alcohol confiscated and persons acting in an anti social manner may refuse to accept the issue of a penalty notice.
Time for a review?
The National Business Crime Centre (NBCC) support and co-ordinates with communication across all 43 Police Forces to share best practice. There are only a handful of training providers accredited with Police CPI responsible for the vetting of participants in the scheme. Focus needs to include business, local authorities, further education and security companies. There is a need to highlight the benefits of the CSAS scheme. More work needs to be done within police forces so that they give greater respect to CSAS personnel and realise what an asset they can be. The perception of an Accredited Person in the eyes of the public needs to be improved with an awareness campaign to promote and explain the benefits of the scheme. Police Forces and the public can benefit from the support the many Accredited Persons now daily on patrol, can do in terms of safety of crowded spaces with the updated training they now receive. They have skills and knowledge to undertake for example, counter terrorism initiatives. In emergency situations they are an additional uniformed and trained resource that can be mobilised to support the Emergency services.
About the Author
Steve Laws is the Director of Safe and Trained (part of The Tess Group) a training provider delivering safety and security courses (including CSAS) across the UK.