Wardens to get police powers

STREET wardens, park rangers and security staff could be given police powers as part of the latest efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Craig Robinson

STREET wardens, park rangers and security staff could be given police powers as part of the latest efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Central Limited are the first organisations to sign-up to the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme.

It means their employees will be able to give out fines and warnings in relation to issues such as graffiti, litter, abandoned cars, disorder and nuisance.

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The first five rangers from Ipswich Central, which aims to promote and improve the town centre, were handed their powers by Suffolk Constabulary's Chief Constable Simon Ash yesterday.

The scheme - which has been funded by £70,000 from the county council - will now be rolled out across the rest of Suffolk.

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Mr Ash said: “Accreditation works hand in hand with safer neighbourhood policing to provide local, effective solutions tailored to the community they serve.

“My ambition has always been to expand and extend the policing family and this is an important milestone in terms of developing the safer neighbourhood concept.

“Whenever we go out and speak to our communities the one issue that consistently gets raised with us is concerns about anti-social behaviour.

“I wouldn't want anyone to go away with the view that this is a bolt on or a soft option - we see this as a serious extension of safer neighbourhood teams.

“The benefits are pretty clear. We want to improve public confidence and organisations that have been accredited will clearly help us in doing so.”

Accredited people - which could include street and community wardens, park rangers and security staff - will still be employed by their own organisation and will wear their own organisations' uniform.

They will be vetted in the same way as police officers and will also wear a national logo to show they are accredited and carry an identification card setting out their powers.

Paul Clement, executive director of Ipswich Central, said: “The role the rangers had in the past has been about customer service. That will obviously continue but now they will also be able to address community safety issues. We're not looking for them to become policeman - it's about raising standards in Ipswich and providing reassurance that the town centre is that little bit safer.”

Matt Gould, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation, said he had mixed feelings about the scheme.

“It is putting faith in people who have had limited training in exercising discretion on the issue of fixed penalty notices for potentially confrontational issues,” he said. “We will reserve judgement as to whether this is policing on the cheap or a useful addition to neighbourhood policing.”

Police powers that could be made available to accredited people:

§ To issue a fixed penalty notice for dog fouling, graffiti, fly-posting, riding a bicycle on a footpath or to parents whose children are involved in truancy.

§ To request the name and address of a person acting in an anti-social manner.

§ To confiscate alcohol and tobacco products from young people.

§ To request a person to stop drinking in an alcohol free zone.

§ To issue a fixed penalty notice for disorder in relation to throwing fireworks in a public place, buying or attempting to buy alcohol in a licensed premises by a person under 18 years of age, knowingly giving a false alarm to the fire service or for behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

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