Behind the public space security patrols

20 May 2020

The popularity of hiring security staff to patrol public places such as city or town centres and residential communities has become more commonplace since at least the early 2000s.

Such patrols are now regarded as part of the extended policing family; a shared identify that includes special constables, community support officers, welcome ambassadors, ranger patrols, store detectives and active community volunteers such as Neighbourhood Watch.

The emergence and presence of these versatile assets contribute towards increasing perceptions of public safety and pride of place. Their very existence and impact make it more hostile for individuals causing anti-social behaviour, public place nuisance and criminality to function. Therefore, it is little surprise that many local Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and/or Business Crime Reduction Partnerships (BCRPs) are eager to involve these additional resources within their community safety control plans. The ‘National British BIDs Survey 2019’ (35% representative sample – 113 BIDs) revealed that 81% of BIDs (90) had a BCRP, 68% (76) directly employed their own Security Team, and 44% (49) had set up active ‘Watch’ groups in their BID areas.

Colmore BID has employed its own Ambassador Service since 2014, and established its Security Team in 2016. To date, the team now comprise of a Street Operations Manager, an Ambassador and 4 Security Officers. The team are aligned to Colmore BID’s Safe and Sound work stream and are further supported by a part-time Strategic Project Officer.

Each officer within the Security Team is SIA* accredited (*Security Industry Authority licenced and regulated), meaning they are ‘fit and proper’ persons who are appropriately trained and qualified to do their job. Qualification is achieved by successfully completing training courses in subjects such as door supervision, physical intervention and conflict resolution.

As part of their continued professional development, the Colmore BID Security Team has received additional training in First Aid and Defibrillator Use, Bleed Control Kits, Counter Terrorism awareness, and Tackling Rough Sleeping and Vulnerability awareness.

A widely held public assumption is public place security patrol officers are afforded additional powers, particularly relating to powers of arrest and detention. However, despite the additional training and accreditation, security officers are not ordinarily awarded any additional powers over the general public. However, in certain conditional situations, a person other than a police officer (in this case, a security officer) may legally arrest a person in certain circumstances.