Police powers to civilian staff

COUNCIL workers across Suffolk could soon be armed with new police-style powers to issue fixed penalty notices to those committing anti-social behaviour.

COUNCIL workers across Suffolk could soon be armed with new police-style powers to issue fixed penalty notices to those committing anti-social behaviour.

Suffolk County Council is being asked to support a national scheme which enables chief police officers to accredit council employees with a limited range of powers to deal with public nuisance offences.

These include dog fouling, graffiti, cycling on the pavement, fly-posting, begging and litter.

Trading standards officers and environmental rangers are among those likely to be given the new powers.

If the idea is agreed, it is likely the first employees will begin formal training by the police in the autumn.

As well as clamping down on problems which cause misery to communities, the council hopes the new scheme will free up police time to deal with more serious crime.

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Councillor Joanna Spicer, responsible for public protection, said: “What's behind it is a real determination to make a difference.

“It's not a cheap form of policing, it's so that local authorities can work with the police to address the key issues that people worry about. We are all in this together.

“People want their neighbourhoods to be clean and tidy. Many people would prefer the police to be dealing with serious criminality and leaving the extended police family like wardens to tackle the low-level stuff.

”At the moment, various wardens in Suffolk such as park or house wardens have no statutory enforcement powers.

“Often these people feel quite frustrated because all they can do is get cross with people, they cannot say: 'Stop it otherwise I will issue you with a ticket'.

“We will get accreditation arrangements started very quickly. We should be able to start training in the autumn.”

The initial police training costs have been estimated at £5,000 per 20 officers but Mrs Spicer said money had already been set aside in the budget to help get the initiative underway, if it was agreed.

The proposals are set to be discussed at a meeting on May 29.

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