Page last updated at 12:06 GMT, Saturday, 25 July 2009 13:06 UK

Concerns over fines by 'bouncers'

Security guard
Civilians with the power to issue fines must be vetted and trained

New police-style powers being given to civilians could create a third-tier police force, magistrates have warned.

Powers introduced in autumn 2008 mean over 1,400 people can issue penalty notices and instant fines for offences from dog fouling to public disorder.

The Magistrates' Association in England and Wales is concerned about bouncers and private security staff having access to the police database.

The Home Office says those using the powers have been vetted and trained.

Private security firms employ staff to guard buildings and manage entry into nightclubs.

Under the new scheme bouncers and security staff will have the authority to stop cars for checking and issue fines and penalty notices.

The powers are granted by chief constables, and those who are accredited must undergo vetting and training and wear badges and uniforms approved by their local police force.

Because tickets are not issued to those with criminal records, as such cases are dealt with through the courts, accredited staff must check the Police National Computer.

John Howson, deputy chairman of the Magistrates' Association of England and Wales, told the Times newspaper that he was concerned about this.

"We don't think it is appropriate for these people to have that access," he said.

Mr Howson added that the scheme creates a "third-tier" force below police and community support officers.

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