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Police Reform Act 2002

Section 39: Police powers for contracted-out staff

231.A number of police forces already contract out aspects of their detention and escort services to the private sector, but employees of companies involved in that work have not had access to relevant police powers. This section allows for the powers in Parts 3 and 4 of Schedule 4 to be conferred by the chief officer of a force on employees of companies contracted to provide detention and escort services to that force.

232.Subsection (1) provides that the section only applies where the police authority has entered into a contract with a ‘contractor’ for the provision of services relating to the detention or escort of persons who have been arrested or are detained in custody.

233.Subsection (2) enables the chief officer in charge of a force to designate any person who is an employee of a contractor as either a detention officer or an escort officer or both.

234.Under subsection (3), chief officers will be able to confer on such employees some of the powers and duties otherwise only available to police constables and others. Subsection (6) limits the powers that can be conferred on designated persons under this section to those in Part 3 (detention officers) and Part 4 (escort officers) of Schedule 4 to the Act. Subsection (7) clarifies that a designation cannot authorise or require conduct beyond the specified functions and that a designation may contain restrictions and conditions. For example, the designation may specify that the powers can only be used in a particular area or for a particular period.

235.Subsections (4) and (5) prevent a designation being granted unless the chief officer is satisfied that the person is suitable to carry out the relevant functions, capable of carrying them out and has been adequately trained and that the contractor is a fit and proper person to supervise the carrying out of the relevant functions.

236.Subsection (8) provides that where a power allows for the use of reasonable force when it is exercised by a police constable, a person exercising such a power under a designation shall have the same entitlement to use reasonable force as the constable; for example when carrying out a search.

237.Subsection (9) gives the Secretary of State the power to make regulations covering the handling of complaints or allegations of misconduct against designated persons when carrying out the relevant functions. Subsection (10) provides that regulations under subsection (9) may apply any provision of Part 2 of this Act in respect of complaints against police officers to complaints against persons designated under this section. The intention is to bring contracted-out persons within the remit of the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Subsection (11) requires the Secretary of State, before making regulations under this section, to consult those whom he considers represent the interests of police authorities and chief officers of police. Where this formulation occurs in existing legislation, the Secretary of State currently consults the APA and ACPO and/or CPOSA. The Secretary of State must also consult the Independent Police Complaints Commission. He may in addition consult anyone else he chooses.

238.Subsection (12) enables the chief officer to determine a fixed period for the designation which must be specified in the designation. The designation may be renewed at any time, but it can be withdrawn or cease. Subsection (13) requires the designation to cease if the designated person stops being an employee of the contractor or if the contract between the police authority and the contractor is terminated or expires.

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