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University private police funding 'sad reflection of today's society'

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Fedster

Others queuing up to join trailblazing scheme.

University private police funding 'sad reflection of today's society'

 

Date - 8th January 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
2 Comments2 Comments}

 

Disheartened rank-and-file officers believe a university swap shop scheme where educational establishments fork out millions in return for private police protection has exposed the service as a “sad reflection” of its former self.

Some 17 forces in England and Wales are now “in the pay” of a fifth of all campuses, increasingly seen as easy prey for drug dealers and thieves.

Students are classed as vulnerable targets to criminals because of the hardware they own and use, in particular laptops, tablets and phones.

But Police Federation claims the government is ignoring the “root of the problem” because there are simply “not enough officers” has been challenged by the university spending the most on protection.

Project trailblazers Northampton University, which saw the introduction of the UK’s first dedicated police team on its site last summer, argues it has been approached by “many other” educational foundations looking to replicate the partnership initiative and “keep their own communities safe”.

The university says although Northamptonshire Police provides a “superb service” to the county, it appreciates resources nationally are “finite”.

Hence it has agreed to part with £775,000 over the next three years on five constables and one sergeant to patrol its campus.

A University of Northampton spokesman said: “A priority for us is the safety and security of our community, and we actively recommend reports to the police of any suspected criminal activity that targets our staff and students.

“Reports of crime across Northamptonshire have risen by five in the last 12 months and when the police encourage the public to let them know of any incidents the university is proud to share their message.”

At the campus, the six-person team – led by Sergeant Lorna Clarke – focuses on bespoke additional services beyond core policing, working with security staff and student volunteers to protect the safety of students visiting the town centre and returning to the halls of residence.

The spokesman added: “Funded by the university but answerable to the chief constable, the team enhances the safety of the university without adding any additional cost to the public finances.

“The university has been approached by many other universities looking to replicate the initiative and keep their own communities safe."

Since 2016, forces are being paid more than £2 million by a total of 27 universities to protect students from criminals, according to data collected under a Freedom of Information request.

In the last year, at least five universities – including Durham, Leicester’s De Montfort, Liverpool, Sheffield and Worcester – have started paying for the privately-funded service.

But Federation Chairman John Apter told Police Oracle: “It is a sad reflection of today’s society when organisations are having to put contingencies in place to address the blatant shortage of police resources.

“While we welcome any efforts to alleviate the relentless strain and pressure on our police service, the root of the problem needs to be addressed.

“The universities involved obviously see and value the need for campuses to be properly policed and this of course is only right.

“It is however astonishing that the government continues to ignore what is staring them in the face – the fact that we do not have enough police officers.

“The public need and deserve a service which is fully resourced in the first place – it should never have got to the stage where some are having to fund this vital public service privately.”

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obsidian_eclipse

I don't necessarily see the problem here. We already have sporting and private events which pay for policing resources and have done so for many years. One of the reasons why Special Constables were taken off one of our annual events was because the force were being paid to provide officers and couldn't justify using a (relatively) free resource.

I'd be happy for campus' to provided funding for police if their is a requirement for them. For hospitals to do so. For local authorities to pay for police. Many already pay for toothless security or wardens and is woefully inadequate to deal with the range of crimes and situations which occur, they are communities in themselves and subject to a whole plethora of occurrences.

Does this detract from the big issue of police underfunding? No.. Although it does raise the issue of communities being unrepresented because they can't afford to pay for police and create a divide. This does have to be managed and can only be done so by ensuring the government acts accordingly to undo the cuts which have decimated our numbers.

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Indiana Jones
52 minutes ago, obsidian_eclipse said:

Special Constables were taken off one of our annual events was because the force were being paid to provide officers and couldn't justify using a (relatively) free resource.

The guidance is that SCs should be charged at 50% of a grade 3 constable's cost.

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BlueBob

Presumably the officers are dedicated to the campus but available to do other duties on a necessity basis - at £755K for 5 yrs that's £125K per year and doesn't;t cover the basic police wages let along other costs, so presumably the force is 'subsidising the event, or have some recall on the officers as an offset.
As some have said, other events pay for bespoke policing, so not really a great difference, would officers normally patrol the campus to the extent these do - unlikely, so it is an addition to what normal officers would provide, so its a fair offset.  The only difficulty is that it extracts 6 officers from an already present officer shortage.

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Jimbo26
Posted (edited)

Not sure this is a big deal, many university campuses are efficiently small towns, and they are a business. Why should the local community pay for the policing of a private money making company? If they want dedicated cops, then pay for them.

Is it any different from BPT, who are funded by the rail companies to police the railways? 

I think it should be extended to the NHS, and have an NHS police, paid for by the NHS.

Edited by Jimbo26
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Radman
Posted (edited)

These sort of reports/news always makes me laugh - "Campus Police" or "Hospital Police" or the various Town/City NPT's like to post "Sandford Police" no such thing in the UK and there hasn't been for a very, very long time.

The truth is likely somewhere in the middle, these cops will be expected to police the location daily, are PARTLY funded by the University but will likely be abstracted to other areas as and when required, I note it also says "City Centre" which would likely mean these officers are out during the night-time economy aswell.

It's been mentioned on here before but a stop gap empowering organisations/authorities the ability to appoint something akin to a 'Peace Officer' or the classical meaning of the "Special Constable" role who would be vetted, trained, authorised to make arrests, carry PPE etc would be of greater benefit to the University than this or a warden or a PCSO or 'Ambassador' or whatever guff title they decide to give to the next enforcement role.

 

Edited by Radman

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stewie_griffin

We have something similar. They're called 'Peace Officers' (not sure exactly why) and they are unarmed kind-of police officers with more or less full powers of arrest. They are assigned to hospitals, universities and other municipal and provincial buildings. Police still have to attend occasionally, but they take care of most of the 'disorder' issues.

As to @obsidian_eclipse 's point about events, we have an online system in which special events are staffed by police officers who volunteer (for double time) on their days off. The idea is that the event organiser pays full price for the policing of the event and the taxpayer isn't stiffed (at least not more stiffed than taxpayers usually are). Not sure how it would work in the UK where your 'events' are often more like the battle of Stalingrad and probably require similar resources.

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HazRat
22 hours ago, BlueBob said:

Presumably the officers are dedicated to the campus but available to do other duties on a necessity basis - at £755K for 5 yrs that's £125K per year and doesn't;t cover the basic police wages let along other costs, so presumably the force is 'subsidising the event,

It’s for 3 yrs and it will more than likely be full cost recovery via a special services agreement.

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BlueBob
4 hours ago, HazRat said:

It’s for 3 yrs and it will more than likely be full cost recovery via a special services agreement.

I based it on the bit saying they had agreed to paying £755K for 3 years.

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Clip

Have Oxford and Cambridge not had private constables for about 200 years without anyone noticing or caring?

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Radman
54 minutes ago, Clip said:

Have Oxford and Cambridge not had private constables for about 200 years without anyone noticing or caring?

They are just used ceremonially I believe even though as far as I'm aware they do hold full powers of a Constable and can lawfully make arrests etc.

These lot are just HO cops with a percentage paid by the University to provide cover, I don't necessarily agree with them being marketed as 'University Police' as they aren't... They're HO Cops being deployed as part of a NPT style unit.

 

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Cathedral Bobby

My concern here is what happens if they are needed elsewhere, are they deployable? I wonder if some cash strapped forces do this to maintain numbers. Getting someone else to pay or contribute to salaries, at the end of the day they will still be appearing as part of the forces manpower, and reduce the need for redundancies.

Cathedral constables save the taxpayer as we are paid by the Cathedrals but significantly reduce HO officers from needing to support many major services and events now. The only time now tends to be visits by the most senior of Royals or politicians. Personal protection, when in Canterbury for the Archbishop, is provided by our officers when out and about. We have also had a number of requests from HO forces to support their officers attending incidents in city centres when they have been short of deployable units, or provide traffic management on roads near to Cathedrals, whether related to our business or not. Seems to me that there are models elsewhere for University Police. Might be better if they were allowed to form small private Constabularies to police their campuses and possibly, like ourselves, provide support to HO officers in emergencies or at very busy times. 

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ParochialYokal

I did read an article a while back about concerns raised about Chicago University Police and how they have pushed the boundaries of their jurisdiction into neighbouring residential areas:
https://www.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/4w7p8b/why-does-a-campus-police-department-have-jurisdiction-over-65000-chicago-residents-1112

It raises some interesting perspectives on how private police forces could be an unfavourable option.

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Funkywingnut
21 minutes ago, ParochialYokal said:

I did read an article a while back about concerns raised about Chicago University Police and how they have pushed the boundaries of their jurisdiction into neighbouring residential areas:
https://www.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/4w7p8b/why-does-a-campus-police-department-have-jurisdiction-over-65000-chicago-residents-1112

It raises some interesting perspectives on how private police forces could be an unfavourable option.

Just put them under the overwatch of the county constabulary or employ them like school resource officers in the US

Edited by Funkywingnut

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Radman
I did read an article a while back about concerns raised about Chicago University Police and how they have pushed the boundaries of their jurisdiction into neighbouring residential areas:
https://www.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/4w7p8b/why-does-a-campus-police-department-have-jurisdiction-over-65000-chicago-residents-1112

It raises some interesting perspectives on how private police forces could be an unfavourable option.
Put them under scrutiny of the local Chief Constable with an agreed remit in place of just what their role and responsibilities exactly are... Properly defined.

Alot of the complaints surrounding Parks Police of Old (Newham) seemed to stem from a lack of interaction or oversight from the Met or council authorities as to just how their officers could and should be deployed.

The York Minster Constabulary actually has a memorandum of understanding with North Yorkshire that actually sets out its jurisdiction, role and responsibilities, this was online at one point. It should be a must for private constabularies that ultimately they can be directed by the local County Chief Constable in the interest of public safety and confidence.

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