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Volume 164: debated on Thursday 21 December 1989

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the powers that regulate and control (a) non-Home Office police in the public sector and (b) private security firms performing a policing role; and if he will list all groups falling within category (a).

The main non-Home Office police forces in the public sector are the British Transport police, the Ministry of Defence police, the Royal Parks constabulary and the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority constabulary; statutory responsibility for these forces and for legislation or regulation governing them rests with my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Transport, for Defence, for the Environment and for Energy.There are also some small bodies of constables operating on private property which are established under private legislation, which arc not directly answerable to a Minister, and on which information is not held centrally. We know of one case (at Parkeston quay) where members of a security force, sworn in as special constables under such legislation, were provided under contract to the harbour authority by a private security firm. The accountability of the members of such a force lies to the law and to the courts and to the statutory harbour authority.Police officers in the main non-Home Office police forces and some of the smaller forces are required to comply with the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and the codes of practice within the area of their jurisdiction, by agreements made under section 96 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.The Government look to the private security industry to provide self-regulation. Considerable progress has been made by trade associations and regulatory bodies within the industry. We are currently considering, in the light of the report of a Home Office working group, whether there is scope for further improvement in self-regulation.