Off duty incidents???

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Do you think PCSO's should have powers when off duty?

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tim419
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Post by tim419 » Tue Dec 13, 2005 12:26 pm

Some good posts here and if anyone doubts the value of PCSOs, the benefit of having trained police staff acting off duty at incidents alone must surely be obvious.

I would ask what powers do you think you want, in addition to the common law powers already available to you? The only additional powers a police officer can use concern arrests, which PCSOs generally don't have anyway.

Other powers, such as acting to save/protect life at a scene, directing traffic at an accident etc are all things that anyone can do anyway under common law.

One thing I stress to street duties probationers is that (apart from when you're calling 999 on the phone) it isn't always necessary or advisable to identify yourself as a police officer or police staff if you come across something off duty. I have had a young PC on their own trying to tackle people smoking cannabis on a night bus (he got assaulted and warrant card stolen).

On another occasion, a student PC off duty at a leisure park intervened in a road-rage incident in the car park. On hearing the word "Police" being uttered from his lips, people around him demanded he arrest the other driver. Due to his inexperience and pressure felt to "do something" he ended up making an unlawful arrest for ABH, which almost ended his career and took a lot to sort out.

The magic word "POLICE" is not always the Superman-in-the-Phone-Box key you might think it is. I have intervened in incidents a number of times over the years, and have more often taken control by stating I was a "paramedic" or "first aider". These titles indicate 'blue-light services' experience to members of the public without actually putting you on offer.

I have only ever shown out off-duty as "POLICE" if it was absolutely necessary, ie. an arrest was imminent or someone was in immediate danger of getting smacked in front of me. Otherwise, I'm just a paramedic with a mobile phone! I still do exactly the same thing - just saves a lot of potential problems by leaving the word "police" back in the locker with my radio, body armour and other kit!

Think also of family or kids with you - they are first priority.

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alihowe
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Post by alihowe » Tue Dec 13, 2005 1:15 pm

I understand what you'e saying Tim. Two very good friends of mine (a couple) are PC's. When they are out, out of work they tell people they are Bin Men! I asked them why do you do this? They said that it's far easier that way......... I fully understand why and it makes more sense with what you've written above.
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shaun o
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Post by shaun o » Wed Dec 14, 2005 10:42 am

all valid points.... the main thing as people have said, assess the situation, and see if you can help..., take notes and try our best.. depends on the situation really.

"public" - yep thats wot some pcso's want to stay in a situation, then you may get ones who want to always get involved.. i think most pcso's would help if possible.

good comments about leaving the "police" in the locker...

as a PC is it your duty when "off duty" to assist???

so ne more bin men here lol...

8)

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tim419
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Post by tim419 » Wed Dec 14, 2005 1:22 pm

Yes, as a police officer there is a positive duty to deal with incidents off duty, but this doesn't necessarily mean showing out, as above.

On a day off at home, I went down the road to get a paper. At the shop I saw two staff inside struggling with youths who were shouting abuse. I called 999 and went over.

The youths ran out chased by the staff and threats/abuse were exchanged. One of the staff picked up a traffic cone from the road and lobbed it at the youths. As the sirens approached, the youths ran off, the staff disappeared back into the shop and the small crowd melted away. I spoke to the two PCs who arrived - guess what? In the end, no-one wanted to know. The staff denied anything had happened, no-one had seen anything and nothing was alleged.

So if I had dashed in like the hero and shown out in front of a bunch of herberts who live on my doorstep, the end result would have been a total waste of my time, let alone the grief aspect.

Think about the free travel on public transport - we get this on the expectation that if something happens, we'll take some action. This could be grabbing someone - it could be just observe and report until on-duty units come along.

The one thing police officers and PCSOs can't really do when faced with a serous incident is just walk on by, like a member of the public might - BUT there are a wide range of tactical options to consider...and getting stuck in hands on should be the absolute last resort, not your first course of action.

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alihowe
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Post by alihowe » Thu Dec 15, 2005 11:32 pm

I think like you Tim, the first thing I would do is phone it in. I'd observe and be ready to be a valuable/professional witness, pretty much like when we're doing the PCSO role. The only time I think I would intervene is if i really thought I could help someone who was having a really bad time, then I couldn't just stand there and do nothing.
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Post by mattd » Mon Dec 19, 2005 4:26 pm

tim419 wrote: Think also of family or kids with you - they are first priority.
A very good and valid point, if your off duty and shopping in town with your kids and you end up locking somone up its makes it difficult if you have to wheel a push chair into custody :P

Ive shown out off duty on about 3 occasions in 6yrs, twice its gone OK and once i ended up regretting it . I wouldnt recommend it at all unless its totally unavoidable.

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