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Crime Scene Guards ‘Saving Time And Money’

Two forces say they are reaping the benefits of using specially trained private sector personnel to guard crime scenes – instead of wasting officers’ time

A private-partnership allowing two forces to be supplied with Crime Scene Guards (CSGs) on demand is saving thousands of pounds – and putting more officers back into core policing.

The collaborative agreement, between Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Devon and Cornwall Police and Securitas, has allowed each force to substitute officers guarding crime scenes with the private company’s own trained CSGs – cutting force costs by almost 75 per cent.

However the firm is only paid when their CSGs actually work, a senior officer has said.

Det Supt Steve Jeffries, Head of Major Crime for Avon and Somerset Constabulary, said the agreement also had clear benefits for core policing, keeping officers in their neighbourhoods or allowing them to take time off.

Currently Securitas is providing the guards for both forces’ Major Crime Investigation Units.

Previously Det Supt Jeffries said officers would be pulled off their rest days to guard crime scenes or kept on for extra hours if initially deployed elsewhere. If they were working their normal shift time anyway, they would be completely redeployed to crime scenes – taking them away from regular duties.

He said: “We can now release normal uniformed colleagues back to normal police duties.

“As a cost saving for us we pay £19 per hour (to Securitas).

“A police officer may tend to come off a rest day at time-and-a-half, or overtime which is time-and-a-third.

“Both those examples are above £19 an hour so what we have with Securitas does save money and allows officers to be released back into the community.

“Instead of calling somebody on a rest day they can have it.”
The agreement works by forces calling the security firm’s national control room in anticipation of a requirement – and explaining how many guards are needed.

“Normally (in the first hours of the investigation) we are still working on a scene,” Det Supt Jeffries said.

“We put the call in early enough and know when a scene will need to be guarded during down periods where we are not working.”

Securitas then has a maximum four-hour window to deploy their personnel to a crime scene – which is met 98 per cent of the time, according to the company. It says guards arrive on the scene “well inside that four-hour timeframe in the vast majority of instances” – and it is increasing its capacity from 60 guards to 100 to further cope with demand.

Det Supt Jeffries said: “That figure (98 per cent) is maybe because of the complicated nature of the scenes or there are multiple scenes and they don’t have enough resources to cover it.

“I have worked for the unit now for six months and so far it has not caused us problems.”

The guards are trained by the forces themselves – with their CIDs delivering the training. Securitas also pays the forces to provide this.

Avon and Somerset has just renewed its contract with the company.
Det Supt Jeffries added: “If you think of the comprehensive spending review, this is another way of allowing officers to carry on with their normal duties.

“There is a time saving and there is an economic saving.”

The staff have been supplied to both forces since 2009.

A Devon and Cornwall spokesman added: “There was full consultation with the Police Federation prior to the implementation, and we believe both police and PCSOs are much better used when not being left to stand on a cordon.”

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