The Home Office has "consulted" on "Reforming the powers of police staff and volunteers"
Here is Spy Blog's contribution to the consultation.
Apart from a very specific, rarely used scenario, involving intimate searches by police officers before medical personnel are available, Note how every single point has been ignored by the Home Office.
Intrusive Powers missing from the list of core powers of Police Constables
"Proposed ‘core’ list of powers that would only be available to police officers, i.e. would not
be available for designation to staff or volunteers
7. The two most intrusive powers under RIPA, i.e.
a. Requesting a warrant to intercept communications; and
b. Acting as a Covert Human Intelligence Source (i.e. an undercover officer)."
There are two more intrusive powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) which must *not* be delegated to non-Constables:
RIPA Part II Access to Communications Data
RIPA Part III section 49 Notices demanding encryption keys or de-crypted plaintext material.
These intrusive powers are already too widely available to "any Constable" and should *only* be allowed to specialist IT trained teams of full Police Constables. It would be a disaster for public trust and confidence if these powers were to be delegated to staff and volunteers.
The Home Office's claims about Trust, Transparency and Accountability in the controversial "Snoopers'Charter" Draft Investigatory Powers Bill are worthless if these vast Police Powers under RIPA are farmed out to unaccountable Volunteers or commercially sub-contracted civilian Staff.
Intimate Searches and Intimate Body Samples
Intimate Searches including Stripping and searches of intimate body orifices and the sometimes forced taking of blood or other Intimate Body Samples are not mentioned on this core list of Police Constable powers.
It must therefore be assumed that the Home Office is planning to to allow these extremely intrusive powers to be farmed out to non-Constables.
This must *not* happen - it is likely to literally cause a riot.
Misconduct in Public Office must apply to Staff and Volunteers
Staff and Volunteers are not Police Officers or Officers of the Crown. Why should they simply face dismissal if they abuse Police Powers delegated to them, when a Police Constable doing exactly the same thing could face up to life in prison for Misconduct in Public Office ?
The offence of Misconduct in Public Office must be clearly and unambiguously extended to cover Staff and Volunteers who have been given Designated or Delegated Police Powers, in anticipation of when, not if, some of them abuse these powers.
Too complicated to be transparent, therefore illegal.
The current system of discretionary powers is already opaque and obscure - the general public has no means of telling exactly what powers a PCSO etc. has in one area compared with a person wearing a similar uniform and having the same designation in an other Police Force Area.
There is no central, easily accessible (e.g. via the world wide web) authoritative, up to date list of which Discretionary Powers are currently in force in which Police Force.
I challenge anyone reading this to find such a list on the internal Home Office or Police Force intranets, within 30 minutes, let alone on their public facing websites.
It is obvious that costly delays on the street will result from the even more complicated mish mash of proposed Discretionary and Delegated Police Powers.
Designation / Delegations from more than one Chief Constable = confusion & red tape
Is, for example, a Escort Officer meant to get two seperate Designations, attend two different but equivalent training courses, from two neighbouring Police Forces before they can transfer arrestees across a Police Force boundary ?
What if the arrest is in Newcastle and the Police Station is in London ? Do they have to get rubber stamped by every Chief Constable along the route ?
Given the principles of natural justice and the legal precedents, it is likely that any such deliberately or negligently obscure system of police powers will be found to be illegal when, not if, cases are brought in the UK Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice.
National police powers for each role, clearly stated in primary legislation
It would be better if Chief Constables had no discretion to designate or delegate any powers.
Neither should the Home Secretary be able to add to complexity and obscurity with Order making powers.
The powers of Police Constables, Police Community Support officers, Investigation Officers and Escort officers should be clearly laid out in the text of primary legislation.
Since there is at least one Police or Justice etc. Act every single Parliament, there is plenty of opportunity to amend such powers in the light of practical experience.
All such powers should apply Nationally, across all Police Force boundaries, just like those of full Police Constables.