Headlines: May 9th, 2002

An influential House of Commons committee is calling for the proposed new ‘community support officers’ to be in different uniforms to police officers.Plans to create community support officers (CSOs) are found in the Police Reform Bill. They’d have some, but not all, of the powers of police officers.

The Home Affairs Select Committee accepts that CSOs might be the only way to solve police manpower problems, especially in London, but says their introduction should be watched to ensure that those given partial police powers are up to the job.

It also says that the public should be able to identify easily who is a police officer and who is a CSO.

In a wide-ranging review of the Police Reform Bill, the committee is also calling for more detail on how the Home Secretary might use new powers to remove failing chief constables, a more convincing case to be made for a Police Standards Unit truly different to the existing HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, and criticises the gradual creep towards more and more police tasks conducted by lesser trained and paid civilians.

The bill proposes that the role of detention officer in police cells could be carried out by out by civilian staff working under contract.

The committee’s report can be found on the web at