Frances Gibb and Richard Ford write in the Times about magistrates’ concerns that private security companies being given access to the Police National Computer:
Security guards and others accredited, such as park wardens, parking attendants and shopping centre guards, have access to the Police National Computer and must use it before issuing an on-the-spot fine. Where the offender has a criminal record, a ticket should not be issued but the police called and the offender dealt with through the courts system.
But John Howson, deputy chairman of the 30,000 Magistrates’ Association in England and Wales, said there were already numerous examples of such tickets being issued inappropriately. “Our concern is that here we have essentially a ‘third-tier’ police force that is now including security guards and door supervisors. These people need to check the Police National Computer to see if the person has a criminal record. We don’t think it appropriate for these people to have that access.”
Together with conditional cautions, such “out-of-court” penalties are now handed out to half of all 1.4 million offenders dealt with a year.