Police powers

The police have a wide range of powers that they use as part of their work to stop crime and protect law-abiding people.

The powers police use are set out under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), which was designed to balance the powers of the police with the rights and freedoms of the general public.

The current PACE codes of practice set out police powers, including custody and stop and search.

On 1 November 2011 a consultation was issued on draft revised codes of practice C, H and G and a new code of practice for the video-recording with sound of interviews in terrorism cases.

Special constable powers

Specials are volunteer police officers, and they, too, have full police powers.

Community support officer powers

Police community support officers (PCSOs) work alongside police officers. They have 20 standard powers, as well as a range of discretionary additional powers which may be granted by the local chief constable should he/she believe they are required to respond effectively to local priorities.

From April 2013, funding for the PCSO role will be consolidated into the police main grant. The democratically elected police and crime commissioner, in consultation with the chief constable, will take decisions on funding and resourcing of neighbourhood policing and PCSOs.

Community safety accreditation scheme

Under the community safety accreditation scheme (CSAS), individuals already working in positions of public and community safety (such as neighbourhood wardens, hospital security, park wardens, shopping mall guards and train guards) are vetted and receive additional training from their local police force to support the police in tackling low-level crime and disorder. 

If appropriate, the police may also decide to accredit individuals with limited powers to assist in responding to the needs of their community. CSAS assists the police in keeping communities safe and is highly localised in order to give an effective response to crime and antisocial behaviour issues.

At December 2010 there were 26 forces participating in the scheme with 2,219 individuals accredited with specific powers. Find out more about participation in the scheme.

Explore this section:

Share |