Office of Constable - 264/21

Date Responded 07 April 2021

Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')

As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held at the time of a request, by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.

You asked:

I am writing to you for some clarification please in regards to Police Officer's holding the office of constable.

I have read "The office of Constable; The bedrock of modern day policing, by John Apter" on the police federations website and it has raised some questions.
https://www.polfed.org/media/14239/the-office-of-constable-with-links-2018.pdf

1. Please can you tell me if every Police Officer within your police force holds the Office of Constable? That is, has every police officer, sworn the following oath?

"I do solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that I will well and truly service the Queen in the office of constable, with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people; and that I will, to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept and preserved and prevent all offences against people and property; and that while I continue to hold the said office I will to the best of my skill and knowledge discharge all the duties thereof faithfully according to law"

2. If there is a variation of this oath, for say officers who do not hold the office of constable, and may be employees of a company carrying out police officer duties, what is that oath?

3. If there is a difference between police officers having sworn said oath, can you tell me the name and badge number of every office holding the office of constable within your force and what the ratio to those who havent please?

4. Do police forces, in any instant, use "hired help" such as security firms or employees of limited liability companies, and allow them dress in police uniforms and enforce the law? What safeguards and protocols are in place to protect the public ifso?

5. What does it mean, to be policed by consent, I quote from the above referenced document: "The office of constable is fundamental to our system of politically independent policing by consent".

6. In addition, can police officers holding the office of constable, and/or any other police officer/employee potentially impersonating a police constable, enforce legislation, acts and statutes?

In Response:

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the People Services Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held, in part, by Northumbria Police.

I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows.

1. This is a normal part of a new constable’s induction with the organisation on initial programmes and for those transferring to Northumbria Police from other forces. Outside of the FOIA we can advise that under the Police Reform Act, 2002, every police officer and special constable is required, on appointment, to be attested by making a declaration in a prescribed form before a justice of the peace. You may find the information provided by the following links of interest:

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2002/30/notes/division/4/1/18/2?view=plain
https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2002/30/section/83

2. No Information held. Again outside of the act it should be noted that no one other than Police Officers and Special Constables are required to make any attestation in order to hold the office of constable. Unless a Police Officer or Special Constable, they will not hold police powers. The information provided by the above links may provide further relevant to this point of you request.

The text above may be factually incorrect, as the Chief Constable can authorise Certain Powers to Non Warranted employees, for example, Although No Sworn oath is required.

The Police Reform Act 2002 (PRA) permits Chief Officers to “designate a relevant employee as an officer” holding certain police powers: section 38 and schedule 4. The employee only carries the powers designated to them by the Chief Constable, for use in the course of employment with the constabulary. Staff without express designation have no such power.
There are four categories of designated staff in the PRA:
• Community support officers
• Investigating officers
• Detention officers
• Escort officers.
In the case of investigating officers, for instance, the powers which can be designated are intended to support functions such as interviewing, attending crime scenes and searches, e.g. entry and search after arrest, the PACE section 19 power of seizure etc. (contained in part 2 of schedule 4 of the PRA).

2. Not applicable.

3. No information held. However, please note that these individuals carry no police powers of arrest and do not wear police uniform.

4. As the information you have requested at this point is accessible by other means I have not provided you with a copy of the information and will rely on Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. You should therefore consider this a refusal for your request.

I have provided an explanation to this exemption below.

Section 21 (1) - Information accessible by other means

Information which is reasonably accessible to the applicant is exempt information.

The information you have requested is freely available via the Gov.UK website. In order to aid and assist you further I have provided the relevant link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/policing-by-consent/definition-of-policing-by-consent

5. No information held.

 

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