Civilian 'snoopers' double over last four years to 2500 in UK
London, Jan 14(ANI): Official "snoopers" are rising in the United Kingdom as the number of civilians granted police-style powers, has almost doubled in the past four years.
The Community Safety Accreditation Scheme empowers a chief constable to grant council or private company employees limited policing powers, including levying fines for offences like disorder, truancy, dog fouling and littering, and to confiscate alcohol or cigarettes from children.
The number of "snoopers" in the UK has increased from 1,400 in 2008 to 2500 after the earlier government had promoted the scheme.
UK police officers contend that the scheme is "blurring the lines" of legitimate law enforcement by developing "third tier" policing.
"The public would have serious concerns that we are now creating a third tier of policing. They have some quite intrusive powers and they are not as accountable as a police officer. They seem to be increasing rapidly at a time when we are seeing reductions in properly sworn police officers," UK Police Federation vice chairman Simon Reed said.
Though the "snoopers" have to be approved by police chiefs, they remain under the full control of their employer who dictates their role and deployment.
Civil liberties group Big Brother Watch Director Nick Pickles warned that the scheme was "policing on the cheap" and condemned it as a "lasting indictment of the last Government's authoritarian urges."
But the UK Government stressed that the civilians are effectively assisting the police under the scheme.
"Our number one priority is public protection. The Community Safety Accreditation Scheme assists the police in keeping communities safe. Powers are limited to dealing with low level crime, individuals are thoroughly vetted and training is approved by the relevant force," UK Home Office spokesperson said. (ANI)
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