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Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 25 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent consideration he has given to the use of private policing services by local authorities and residents. (300320)

There are no official private policing services. Communities should have the confidence that the police will be there for them when they need it. Public confidence that the police and local council are dealing with the crime and antisocial behaviour that matters locally is improving (from 45 per cent in March 2008 to 50 per cent in the latest figures to June 2009).

In December 2008 we introduced the Policing Pledge in England and Wales which sets out the minimum standards of service that the public can expect to receive from the police including for response times, visibility, and access. We have also invested heavily to ensure that all neighbourhoods now have a dedicated and named Neighbourhood Policing team.

It is up to the public and local authorities to decide if they wish to spend money on private security. Private security guards have no more powers than any other citizen except when they are accredited under Community Safety Accreditation Schemes (CSAS). CSAS is a scheme which allows Chief Officers to designate limited powers to employees of organisations which contribute towards community safety and tackling antisocial behaviour (ASB) such as park wardens, train operators and private security guards. These powers enhance the contribution of people in roles that are already concerned with keeping communities safe, and mean that there are more people on the streets with powers to tackle and not tolerate ASB.