Private Contractors with Police Powers Deployed in Central Cambridge

Sunday, June 25th, 2017. 2:29pm

On Saturday the 24th of June 2017 I went to Victoria Avenue in Cambridge during Midsummer Fair to look into the deployment of civilians accredited with police powers under the “Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS)“.

I had spotted people wearing the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme logo at the fair in previous years and wanted to find out what was going on.

What I found was the officers were from Cash and Traffic Management Ltd. A February 2017 report to Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner states:

The company were approved for Community Safety Accreditation in May 2010 and currently has 60 members of staff accredited. The powers they have been given by various police forces under the Police Reform Act 2002 and Serious Organised Crime & Policing Act 2005 as follows:

  1. Power to control traffic for purposes other than escorting a load of exceptional circumstances, based on the powers constables have under sections 35 and 37 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
  2. Power to require name and address for road traffic offence

So that all looks potentially fine and above board.

I discovered the that the officers were from Cash and Traffic Management Ltd when one accredited person approached me and came close enough for me to read the ID card they were wearing. In retrospect now having seen the company’s logo I can see that the logo also reproduced on the uniform being worn.

Prior to reading the ID card I asked the officer who he was working for. The officer did not respond. When I read the company name from the ID card the officer put his hand over the card in an apparent attempt to prevent me from reading any more information from it. I don’t think it is appropriate for those empowered to exercise policing powers to hide their identity cards when engaging with the public.

The accredited officer stood close to me and walked in circles around me. This was a bizarre thing to do which may have been intended to be intimidating or obstructive. I thought it was odd behaviour which wasn’t very conducive to having a reasonable conversation.

I asked to see the officer’s card detailing the powers they had been given; I was interested in checking to see if the officers working in Cambridge were in possession of an accreditation from our own Chief Constable. The officer did not respond and walked off.

On reviewing the video I can see the officer’s identity card contains what looks like five police force crests; perhaps indicating that five Chief Constables consider the individual to be suitable for exercising police powers. I have compared the crests with the Cambridgeshire Police force logo and cannot see one which matches.

Something I had wondered in previous years was if those wearing the CSAS badges were accredited, but not in Cambridgeshire. The apparent lack of a Cambridgeshire logo on the ID card I saw leads me to continue to wonder.

My plan was that if I didn’t find out what was going on from the accredited staff, to ask the police working alongside them. There were lots of police at the event alongside the civilians purporting to have police powers and I let a police officer know that I’d asked one of those wearing a Community Safety Accreditation Scheme badge if I could see their designation/accreditation but they had refused. The officer appeared confused, and disinterested. In retrospect I should not have answered the officer’s questions having made the clear report and perhaps asked to speak to the police event commander, if they were free. That might have been disproportionate though and I’ve collected clear video evidence which can be used to review what occurred in retrospect.

I obtained video of the officers apparently using their powers to direct traffic. One officer wearing the CSAS badge had a different style of ID card with no photo and one large crest.

The Cambridgeshire Police force webpage on the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (24-June-2017 Snapshot), is scant and as I suspect it grossly out of date. It doesn’t for example list Peterborough City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council as organisations taking part in the scheme. In November 2016 Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner tweeted a photo of himself standing next to “Safer Peterborough” enforcement officers who were wearing the CSAS logo (Archived image). When addressing Cambridge’s North Area Committee in March 2017 Police and Crime Commissioner Ablewhite referred to the fact council officers in Peterborough had been given police powers [under the CSAS scheme].

The Police and Crime Commissioner’s comments may suggest he is keen to see police powers given to council officers in Cambridge. Hopefully my experience will inform consideration of doing so.

I see from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s February 2017 report the number of security staff at Addenbrookes with police powers has risen to 56.

My Views and Concerns

I don’t think many people would recognise the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme logo and understand what it means.

We don’t give police powers to those directing traffic around roadworks, though we do require those involved to work to certain standards and in some cases to have relevant qualifications. I can see no reason for event traffic management to be handled any differently.

I am concerned that our Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable are risking the hard won and easily lost reputation of our local police by handing powers to these employees of private companies.

Reasonable to Investigate In-Person?

I have considered if it would have been practical, and safer, to investigate more safely from behind a keyboard, via emails, Tweets and Freedom of Information requests. In previous years I had tweeted observations but I hadn’t even obtained clear evidence the CSAS badges were being worn. I don’t know who contracted Cash and Traffic Management Ltd, it could have been event organisers Cambridge Live, the travellers whose traditional event it is, one of our local councils or perhaps the police outsourcing some of their work. Going out to observe what was happening and ask questions was I think a reasonable step as part of investigating what is happening.

See Also

8 comments/updates on “Private Contractors with Police Powers Deployed in Central Cambridge

  1. Franky

    Really weird situation, first time hearing about this. Empowering citizens with police powers only for the traffic management sounds reasonable, but aren’t there any other possible solutions other than that? This could easily be exploited if left unnoticed.

    Thanks for the material.

    Best regards,

  2. Richard Taylor Article author

    I raised some of my concerns at the West/Central Area Committee on the 18th of July 2017.

    I received a one word response from the police, saying “yes” those puporting to exercise the powers were properly authorised. No councillors made any comment.

    As the one word response from the police didn’t explain the basis of the police position I don’t give it much weight.

    I am wondering if perhaps there is an as yet undisclosed national accreditation scheme involved.

  3. Richard Taylor Article author

    I followed this up again at the December 2017 West Central Area Committee.

    Councillors decided to look into what is happening, and in particular if and how they should have been consulted:

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