Simon Newman, Police CPI explains the schemes in place that enable companies and organisations to work in partnership with the police.
There are two voluntary schemes enshrined in legislation which enable private companies and public bodies to collaborate with the police to reduce crime to make the public safer in towns and cities and when using the railway network. The schemes, which involve employees being accredited with low-level police powers, are the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS) and the Railway Safety Accreditation Scheme (RSAS).
CSAS – which is contained in Section 40 of the Police Reform Act 2002 – allows private security company accredited employees to tackle anti-social behavior in designated areas to free up police officers to deal with more urgent and serious crimes. In addition, it seeks to promote greater business involvement, partnership working and sharing of information with the police. The scheme, which operates in England and Wales, allows the local police force where schemes operate, to influence the training of businesses, such as security companies, whilst being able to manage, monitor and assess them.
CSAS in the front-line
One of the schemes that took place during the COVID-19 lockdowns involved Cash and Traffic Management (CTM), of Coventry, providing CSAS Police Accredited Traffic Officers to manage parking and access control at the opening of the 300 intensive care bed NHS Nightingale Hospital at the University of West of England campus, Bristol.
A number of security companies with CSAS accredited staff were also involved in the reopening of recycling centres which closed during the first national lockdown in March 2020. They included Combined Services Provider Limited (CSP), a Watford-based traffic management, stewarding and security company. The company was asked at short notice by the North London Waste Authority to put together plans for the reopening of six waste and recycling centres in North London. The plans had to be approved by each of the respective local authorities and the Metropolitan Police.
At the same time, CSP was approached by Surrey Police to assist with the reopening of eight waste sites in their area. CSAS duties included traffic management. Tony Nikolic, Managing Director, CSP, said the Metropolitan Police and Surrey Police had been extremely supportive: “After ten years of working with the police we feel we are very much trusted to deploy CSAS accredited staff.”
In York, nearly 200 businesses asked locally based security company Eboracum to carry out daily checks on their premises whilst they remained empty due to lockdown. Working on behalf of the York BID, the Rangers carried out daily visits to all properties to provide a uniformed deterrence and to check there was no damage to doors or windows. As a follow-up service, the Rangers adapted their long-established joint patrols with police to join police officers on bicycle patrols during the night to deter burglars. Carl Nickson, Managing Director of Eboracum explained how the Rangers’ close working relationship with police and regular information sharing helps ensure issues are resolved quickly.
The most unusual use of CSAS during lockdown took place in Liverpool during four days in October 2020 when Paramount Stewarding and Security deployed accredited staff to redirect traffic as Warner Bros Studios carried out filming for the next Batman film. To ensure minimal disruption and to keep public transport and traffic moving, Paramount worked closely with Merseyside Police and Merseyside Travel, which is the strategic advisor to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
Looking forward to business after lockdown, Andover-based Venture Security, which was one of the first companies to pioneer the use of police powers in Hampshire and Wiltshire, is expecting a quick pick up to ‘business as usual’ with increasing demands on its services, particularly around its two core activities of tackling street drinking and begging. Operating CSAS schemes in Salisbury, Winchester and Andover to reduce anti-social behaviour, Sara Howe, Director, predicted an increase in drinking, shoplifting and begging as more people come into city and town centres: “I do envisage everything getting more demanding and busier.
“So, more than ever, we need to play our part to create safe, secure and pleasant high streets and to deal with anti-social behaviour which may give shoppers an excuse not to visit.”
Section 43 of the Police Reform Act 2002 allows a train operating company, business or organisation involved in railway security or safety in the UK to work on the railway network to tackle low-level crime, incivilities and anti-social behaviour for the benefit of passengers and rail employees. This enables British Transport Police (BTP) to concentrate on other issues such as disrupting criminals who chose the rail network to travel to commit crime.
Companies seeking to run a RSAS are required to have a contract with a train operator or have future bids or proposals in place. The overall purpose of a RSAS is to achieve a safer and more secure rail network without involving a police officer as well as improving intelligence and maximising public confidence by providing a high-visibility presence on the railway.
RSAS in the frontline
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which includes Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express is among three out of 28 train operating companies across the UK who have officers accredited under RSAS. Known as Rail Enforcement Officers (REOs), they deal with a wide range of low-level crimes and anti-social behaviour including vandalism, graffiti, fare evasion and disruption on overcrowded trains.
Because of their close relationship with the British Transport Police’s frontline officers they are often deployed to cover specific train stations or routes to deter more serious issues that emerge from time to time, such as aggressive loitering or begging, theft, burglary, knife crime, assaults and county-lines drug activities.
By providing a uniformed presence during their day-to-day duties, they are also well-placed to be a beacon of assistance to passengers who are in need of help, such as the homeless or those struggling with mental health issues and those who choose to use the railway as a means to take their own lives. They also provide an invaluable source of help and support to staff who work on the railway network.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the REOs role in the community to educate children to be safe around the railway network has been put on hold. Figures released by GTR in 2021 reported its highest-ever figures for safe-guarding vulnerable people despite a dramatic fall in the number of passengers during COVID-19. It has led to REOs supporting more vulnerable people than ever before as the pandemic caused an increase in mental health challenges around the country. Adam Dear, GTR Rail Enforcement Manager North, remarked: “Our work hasn’t stopped, and rightly so, because we are there to protect our customers and fellow staff on our rail network.”
Assessment for CSAS or RSAS
The role of assessing companies and organisations seeking approval to run a CSAS or RSAS is carried out on behalf of the National Police Chiefs’ Council by Police Crime Prevention Initiatives (Police CPI), a police-owned organisation that works on behalf of the Police Service to deliver a wide range of crime prevention initiatives to deter and reduce crime.
Police CPI carries out checks to establish whether companies or organisations are ‘fit and proper’ in their standards of management, supervision and accountability to exercise CSAS or RSAS powers and then submits a report with recommendations to the Police Force Chief Constable where the CSAS will operate or, in the case of RSAS, the Chief Constable of British Transport Police (BTP).
It is Chief Constables or the BTP Chief Constable who decide whether to accredit employees of those businesses and organisations already working in roles that contribute to maintaining and improving community safety with limited but targeted police powers.
Both CSAS and RSAS require accredited officers to wear the uniform of their employing organisation along with an identification badge. Companies involved in the CSAS and RSAS schemes are required to be reviewed by Police CPI every three years. Police CPI has assessed more than 120 private sector companies and organisations seeking to run a scheme.
We receive a lot of positive comments about CSAS and RSAS schemes where accredited staff are deployed to reduce crime, improve safety and provide a uniformed presence to reassure the public. I believe CSAS accredited officers are now accepted as part of the extended policing family and make a valuable contribution towards public reassurance.
This article was published in the August 2021 edition of Security Journal UK. Pick up your FREE digital copy on the link here