Private Security Policing the Streets

private_plod08:20 Thursday 19th June 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[P]AUL STAINTON: Fenland District Council are paying for security staff to act as street marshals during England games in case of trouble. Why? Was the World Cup in 2010 a particularly violent time in Wisbech? And is it a valid use of taxpayers’ money? Is the Council stepping on the police’s toes? Well let’s find out. Councillor David Oliver is in charge of Licensing and Community Safety for Fenland District Council. David, morning.
DAVID OLIVER: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: How did all this come about then?
DAVID OLIVER: I’d like to just correct you on one thing. Fenland District Council haven’t put any money actually into this, other than officers’ time. It’s actually the Wisbech Pubwatch and Shopwatch and a local security firm that’s actually put the money forward for this to actually happen.
PAUL STAINTON: OK. So it’s a win win really.
DAVID OLIVER: It’s a win win. Yes.The reason for it, Shopwatch and the relevant partners want to improve the perception of safety and reduce crime associated with visiting the town for the football entertainment.
PAUL STAINTON: Is it particularly bad when the football’s on then?
DAVID OLIVER: No it hasn’t been.
PAUL STAINTON: So what’s the point then?

DAVID OLIVER: Well, perception. People feel that at this time when there’s a big tournament on there may be trouble. There hasn’t been in the past, but a local security firm offered us a large discount to put these street marshals on, and be able to walk round the town to give people that reassurance that there is somebody there if anything does actually happen.
PAUL STAINTON: What can they do?
DAVID OLIVER: They have the powers to detain …
DAVID OLIVER: .. until the police arrive. Until the police arrive, using reasonable force.
PAUL STAINTON: Who’s decided that then? Who’s decided they’ve got the powers to do that?
DAVID OLIVER: They’ve got no formal powers, but they have .. they will detain lawfully using reasonable force if an offence is actually committed.
PAUL STAINTON: What, just like any individual person?
DAVID OLIVER: Any other individual.
PAUL STAINTON: It could cause problems though, couldn’t it?
DAVID OLIVER: They’re fully trained people. They’re SIA door trained staff, and they street marshal in other towns as well.
PAUL STAINTON: What do the police think?
DAVID OLIVER: Police are on-board with it. They’re part of our operation. If there are any incidents they radio through to our CCTV control room who then notify police if there’s an incident. Luckily Saturday there was no incidents at all. They’re really there to reassure the public that there are people around just in case anything does happen.
PAUL STAINTON: You’re also employing taxi marshals as well, are you?
DAVID OLIVER: We have a taxi marshal, yes. We found that obviously the late game which was on Saturday, a lot of our taxis actually finish before the game finished. We persuaded some of the taxis to come on-board and then what will happen is if taxis are required, then our street marshals will get in touch with the taxi marshal, and he will instruct them on where to go and then safely take people home.
PAUL STAINTON: You’re talking about perception though, and the perception here is that you’ve got a problem. You’ve got street marshals wandering the streets, you’ve got taxi marshals. You’re building up a picture of a town that’s encased by a ring of steel.
DAVID OLIVER: No. No no. It’s really there .. it’s an initiative which Pubwatch and Shopwatch, they were offered the opportunity. It’s something that we’re looking at, something we’re trying out. And hopefully it will just be .. this year we’ll look at it and see if it’s actually required any other time. It’s not .. it’s not .. we don’t have (unclear) issues within Wisbech during these games, but obviously this time of the year with this type of football, the World Cup, people’s .. their senses are heightened. They obviously go out and drink. We just hope that there’s no issues, and that this is just there to reassure people.
PAUL STAINTON: OK. David, thank you. Councillor David Oliver, in charge of Licensing and Community safety for Fenland District Council. Street marshals on the streets of Wisbech. A private security firm patrolling the streets. Is that the thin end of a wedge? Would you like street marshals wandering your streets detaining people? Is it right and proper that they should be, or is that the police’s job.