Civilians to guard crime scenes.

Posted: November 9, 2009 in Broken Britain

Civilian security guards are being used to protect major crime scenes in Devon and Cornwall as part of a controversial new trial.

IlieUniformed police officers are usually stationed at the cordon around serious incidents to prevent the scene and evidence being contaminated. However, ‘crime scene guards’, from security firm Reliance, are now being used.

Serious concerns have been raised about the use of the guards by the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers.

Sergeant Steve Tovagliari, chairman of the federation in Devon and Cornwall, said: “It is shocking. The only reason the force has done this is to save money.

“All it needs is for one person to cross the cordon and you could lose a whole job. They haven’t got the right powers or the right skills.

“What if someone crosses the cordon? A security guard can’t stop them – they haven’t got the power of arrest. What if a member of the public handed them a piece of evidence? They won’t have a clue how to handle that and maintain its forensic integrity. “What if a member of the public comes forward with information and wants to make a statement? They can’t do that either – a police officer can.

“Police officers also know how to gather intelligence and often know offenders, who are in the habit of returning to the scene to look at the handiwork.

“A civilian guard who was preventing someone from stealing sandwiches from a supermarket the day before they are on the cordon at a major crime scene simply isn’t going to know that.

“God forbid that a case collapses because the force is using people who don’t have the skills to do the job.”

In Bodmin, security guards were preventing anyone from getting close to the scene of last Thursday’s fatal fire. They wore fluorescent jackets with “Crime scene guard” written in a panel on the back, and a Reliance cap.
Another member of staff later arrived in a Land Rover with blue and white chequered markings, mimicking those of police vehicles.

One guard could be seen collating a list of police and fire officers who had been allowed beyond the police tape. It is the first time the guards have been used in Devon and Cornwall.

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