Addenbrookes Security Threatening People With Fixed Penalties

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009. 12:04am

Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge - Main Road Entrance Sign

A progress report on a trial involving security staff at Addenbrooke’s hospital being given police powers, including the ability to administer summary justice via fixed penalty tickets, was presented to Cambridgeshire Police Authority on the 30th of September 2009. It revealed that only “managers” had been given the powers and the powers had not been used between the date the scheme started, on the 21st July 2009, and the end of August when the latest figures were available. It was reported that the “threat of application of powers, has helped on several occasions to prevent an escalation of problems.” Personally I strongly dislike policing by threats and do not think the police authority ought be condoning such behaviour.

Security Guard’s Access to the Police National Computer

Access to the Police National Computer by the empowered civilians was clearly a matter which had caused discussion prior to the meeting. PNC checks are required before summary justice is dispensed to ensure summary justice is appropriate for the individual being dealt with. At Addenbrooke’s such checks are indirect, with the civilian wearing the badge indicating they’ve got police powers calling the police control room and the police staff deciding on a case by case basis what to tell them.

No Firm Assurance from Chief Constable

Police Authority member Mr Wilkins asked for a firmer assurance than had already been given that no further civilians would be given police powers. The chief constable did not give the categoric reply which was being sought, but instead stated that while she had no plans to, if something came up requiring such designation she might use her powers to designate further civilians. I actually think this is a reasonable stance, she might need to designate new VOSA officers for instance; however she could have given an assurance that she would not be giving further security guards or others such as club and pub bouncers in the county given police powers.

Complaints Against Security Guards with Police Powers

Benjamyn Damazer and Mr Wilkins asked about how any complaints against the security guards with police powers would be dealt with. They appeared to be saying that the chief constable had a choice to make about how any complaints are to be handled. They were urging the chief constable to make a decision before a complaint was received. The chief constable said she had not considered the matter, and only following pressure from Mr Wilkins did she agree to consider it after the meeting.

Mr Wilkins also asked if there was scope to separate the judicial element of the role – the giving of tickets, from other aspects, with respect to the way complaints were dealt with. The chief constable replied that she didn’t know.

Section 40(9) of the Police Reform Act 2002 which created the community safety accreditation scheme states:

It shall be the duty of a chief officer of police who establishes and maintains a community safety accreditation scheme to ensure that the employers of the persons on whom powers are conferred by the grant of accreditations under section 41 have established and maintain satisfactory arrangements for handling complaints relating to the carrying out by those persons of the functions for the purposes of which the powers are conferred.

Was Cambridge City Council Consulted?

The report to the Police Authority stated that the scheme had been brought in “After consultation with the Police Authority and local authorities”; the Police Reform Act requires this. When I asked Cambridge City Councillors at the South Area Committee (the trial is taking place in that area) if and how the City Council had been consulted they said Cllr Amanda Taylor indicated they not aware of any consultation.

My View

It is unacceptable that the chief constable says she is not able to properly police Addenbrookes hospital. At the December 2008 meeting of the Police Authority which I observed she stated:

“At Addenbrooke’s – there is no way we can give the level of service we need to give, especially as it grows.”

This is the problem which should be being focused on. We need more real police officers to do the core job of policing which is keeping order and keeping people safe. Giving police powers to security managers is a distraction from this underlying problem with police priorities.

In addition to that, giving police powers, particularly summary justice powers, to security guards, bouncers, and others risks damaging police-public relations even further and risks people losing respect for those given the authority of police powers if they are not used appropriately.

See also

4 comments/updates on “Addenbrookes Security Threatening People With Fixed Penalties

  1. Horrace

    Yes, this is very interesting. I am a Security Officer and need, as part of my job, to attend alarms in buildings my employer owns on this site. I have, on one occasion, been accused of taking photo’s on the roadway adjacent to the Oncology Dept (which I wasn’t) And directing trafic out side the day clinic, which I was. A lady pulled up alongside me asI was walking along the footpath and asked me directions on how to get to the public car park. I told her. I was wearing my uniform and had a perfect right to be where I was and yet I was acosted by security. I’m slightly unsure as to what my legal options are regarding this and worry that my employer will not do much to help me. Your thoughts and advise on this would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Chris Kik

    I was in Addenbrookes yesterday, as well as last week.
    Last week, due to mental health, I was allowed to smoke tobacco, with a security guard standing there.
    Yesterday, after giving up smoking and moving to E-Ciggs, I was told by the nurse, no you cannot smoke tobacco on site, which is clearly a lie, but yes you can smoke E-Cigs as they just contain water vapour.
    However the security guard got aggressive and tried to enforce ‘his view’ by getting in my face and started to be derogative, clearly trying to escalate the situation.
    I then asked for him to identify himself so that I could make a complaint against him -he then refused, turned of his camera and walked off.
    I then followed him continuously asked for him to ID, the then got on his radio and said, I am being attacked, which is probably one of the most absurd replie I have heard all year!
    Anyway, clearly by turning off his camera and leaving it off, it was clear he was lying. In the end the senior security guard said, oh it is mis communication.

    And these are the kind of people that are allowed, or being considered, to do spot fines?!

  3. Frank kelker

    Hi, so am I to take it that regardless of said given powers, are they policing by consent ? the answer would make a massive difference to recognising them or not. Who vets them ? Is it individually or a group or company basis? What does it cost taxpayer ? Is it legal if they are not sworn in ? How easy is it to impersonate these people ? Looks easy to me. Shouldn’t they be made to show ID to any member of PUBLIC who requires it. Should their individual names be on a register open to public scrutiny. Be great to know a above but I bet its a bitch trying to get info.. I think I’ll write to Norfolk chief constable or who ever to find out the score to.

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