Community Safety Accreditation Schemes are a means by which the Chief Constable of a police force in the United Kingdom may grant a limited range of police powers to employees of non-police organisations who contribute towards community safety. Community Safety Accreditation Schemes were created under section 40 of the Police Reform Act 2002. Individuals who have been granted these powers are known under the Act as Accredited Persons.
A Chief Constable may grant some or all of the following powers to an Accredited Person as part of a Community Safety Accreditation Scheme:
The powers available to individuals accredited under a Community Safety Accreditation Scheme are less than those of a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO). A significant difference is that PCSOs can, in certain constabularies, detain a suspect for 30 minutes if they believe they have been given a false name and address.
The Act also makes it a criminal offence to it is an offence to assault, resist or obstruct an Accredited Person in the execution of their duty, impersonate an Accredited Person, or for an Accredited Person to suggest that they have powers which exceed the powers they actually hold.
A person accredited under a Community Safety Accreditation Scheme has to be assessed as suitable to exercise their extra powers, trained in their use and capable of carrying them out. The Act also requires that the organisation employing an accredited person must be 'fit and proper' and that they must have a satisfactory complaints procedure in place.
An accredited person remains under the control of their normal employer, and is not managed by the police force. Therefore if an accredited person breaks the law, their employer, rather than the police, could be sued.
The law requires that an accredited person wears a uniform approved by the police when exercising their powers, and that they also carry with them a badge with the logo shown and detailing the powers which they are entitled to exercise.
Common examples of people granted powers under a Community Safety Accreditation Scheme include security guards, community, parish, park and dog wardens, beach patrols, trading standards officers, and housing association staff.
In the Avon and Somerset Constabulary area, examples of Schemes include:
In the Essex Police area, employees of a number of organisations have been accredited:
In the Hertfordshire Police area, accredited persons include:
In the Nottinghamshire Police force area, Community Protection Officers employed by the Community and Neighbourhood Protection Service of Nottingham City Council work alongside police officers and police community support officers.
Discussions are also underway to use the Scheme to give marshalls of on-road cycling events the power to stop and direct traffic.
An audit published by the Home Office in August 2008 showed that 21 out of 42 police forces had granted Accredited Person status to a total of 1,406 people in 95 organisations. 19 of the employing organisations were private companies. Essex Police had accredited the most people, 291 individuals in 25 organisations.
The powers which had been granted most widely (by more than 20 forces) were the power to seize alcohol from a person aged under 18 in a designated place, the power to seize tobacco from a person under 16, and the power to require the name and address of a person acting in an anti-social manner.
Some commentators have criticised the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme for conferring police-like powers on non-police officers. Amongst the criticism levelled at the Scheme are that it is an "unjustified extension of surveillance powers" and "snooping on the lives of ordinary citizens".
The Police Federation, the organisation representing police officers, also opposes the Scheme, referring to it as "another way of bringing in private policing".