For quite some time now I have been asking Cambridgeshire Police to publicise, preferably on their website, exactly what powers our local PCSOs have been given by the Chief Constable. On the 12th of September 2007 I got a commitment from the Chief Constable live on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire to do just this but this was not followed up with action. I lobbied members of the police authority (eg. on 6/10/2007) as I think monitoring the powers given to PCSOs should be at the heart of what they do. I have also attended local area committees when policing is discussed, as well as contacting the police’s web team making the same basic request – for the powers of PCSOs in Cambridgeshire to be publicised, so far, without success.
The powers of a police community support officer (PCSO) are currently comprised by those laid down by The Police Reform Act 2002 (Standard Powers and Duties of Community Support Officers) Order 2007 augmented by discretionary powers designated by individual Chief Constables. There was an audit of powers designated in each force conducted by the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Home Office in May 2007. I believe the 2007 audit may now be out of date and in any case it never provided detail on geographic restrictions of powers or any differences between PCSOs, for example any extra powers given to those designated “Traffic PCSOs”. There are differences in practice in the powers of PCSOs in Cambridgeshire. The fact PCSOs in Peterborough to issue fixed penalty tickets for fly-tipping at a level set by the local council has been widely trumpeted. However despite discussing fly-tipping within Cambridge extensively with councillors, council officers and the police no mention of PCSOs using fixed penalty tickets has been made. On a different area of powers I have also witnessed PCSO 7075 stop cyclists cycling the wrong way down Sidney Street in Cambridge and cannot see a power enabling that in the May 2007 audit.
Now Labour’s prospective parliamentry candidate Mr Zeichner has made PCSO powers a top topic of public debate in the city I have submitted a formal request to the police for the powers of PCSOs in Cambridge to be released, in order that the response is placed into the public domain I have done this using the Whatdotheyknow.com website. I have also suggested that this information is made available, and kept up to date, on the police website.
The text of this request is below:
I would like to request details of the powers given by the Chief Constable to PCSOs in Cambridgeshire.
I anticipate the response to my request will include:
i/ The content of all current “designation cards” issued to PCSOs in Cambridgeshire.
ii/ Details of all local authority fixed penalty notices which PCSOs in Cambridgeshire issue, along with information on which geographical areas these powers cover.
iii/ Details of all local Cambridgeshire Police fixed penalty notices which PCSOs in Cambridgeshire issue, along with information on which geographical areas these powers cover.
iv/ Information on the powers of PCSOs with varying experience and “qualifications”, for example additional powers, if any, given to “Traffic” PCSOs.
v/ Information on the circumstances where a Cambridgeshire PCSO has the power to require a person’s name and address.
I would like to suggest this information is made available, and kept up to date, on the police website.
The question about requiring a name and address is included this is one area where I find the powers of PCSOs to be particularly unclear, despite having reviewed Schedule 4 of the Police Reform Act 2002, Schedule 8 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, Section 33 of the Anti-social behavior act 2003 and chapter 37 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 which appear to be just some of the laws which govern this area.