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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 March, 2005, 10:37 GMT
Police force withdraws CSO powers
Police Community Support Officer hat
Lancashire was one of six forces that trialled CSO detention powers
A police force that took part in trials to allow Community Support Officers to use reasonable force when detaining suspects has withdrawn the power.

Lancashire Constabulary said it had taken the decision to "reduce the potential for conflict to arise".

The move was welcomed by the Police Federation which is opposed to CSOs handling confrontational situations.

The public services union, Unison, said it was worried about how CSOs in different areas had different powers.

Anti-social behaviour

Community Support Officers were first introduced to act as the "eyes and ears" of the police service.

As civilian wardens, they are intended to patrol the streets and deal with low-level anti-social behaviour.

But last month new research revealed that many police officers compared them to "problem children".

They said some "wannabee" CSOs went over the top and "escalated situations", putting themselves and any attending police officers at unnecessary risk.

They can verbally request a suspect to remain with them for 30 minutes
Lancashire Constabulary

Lancashire Constabulary was one of six forces that trialled CSO detention powers between January 2003 and March last year.

According to Jane's Police Review, 151 CSOs reported some form of abuse during the 15-month pilot and seven suffered physical harm. One of Lancashire's CSOs was stabbed with a knife, according to its report.

A spokeswoman for Lancashire Constabulary said: "We ran a 15-month pilot and as a result of that a decision has been taken by senior officers to withdraw the permission for CSOs to use force when detaining a member of the public in order to reduce the potential for conflict to arise.

"They can verbally request a suspect to remain with them for 30 minutes until a serving police officer arrives, but they cannot use force."

Bob Elder, chairman of the Police Federation's Constables' Central Committee, said he "applauded" the decision.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "It is for Chief Constables to decide which of the available powers their CSOs may exercise depending on their policing strategy for the area."


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