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New powers to tackle violence and aggression in the NHS

Offenders face fixed penalty fines for disorder or confiscation of alcohol or tobacco

Mark Gould

Friday, 01 April 2016

New guidance issued today gives the NHS powers to work with police to issue violent or abusive patients with fixed penalty fines and to confiscate alcohol or tobacco.

The guidance is designed to help NHS organisations reduce the incidence of anti-social behaviour and deal more decisively with violent or abusive patients. The Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS) – Guidance for the NHS reinforces existing provisions to keep NHS premises safe, including existing powers under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act. 

Under the CSAS, local police chiefs can delegate limited powers to accredited persons within NHS organisations work in closer partnership with the police to help tackle anti-social behaviour.

These include the power to issue Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs) for behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress or for using electronic communications to cause annoyance, inconvenience, or anxiety to another, to confiscate alcohol from people drinking in a protected public space and, to confiscate alcohol from under 18s and tobacco from under 16s.

And NHS Protect spokesman told Onmedica: "CSAS is entirely voluntary and it may not be suitable for every NHS organisation. However, where a hospital has a particular problem with lower level incidents of nuisance and anti-social behaviour which distract from the delivery of a high quality service, they can enter into discussions with their local police force with a view to joining a CSAS. 

"It is open to NHS organisations in any healthcare setting, however as part of the application process an organisation must be able to demonstrate to their local police force that it meets the criteria required to join a scheme as set out our in guidance, and the force will then evaluate the organisation's suitability to join a scheme." 

This new guidance for the NHS has been developed by NHS Protect in collaboration with the Home Office and the police.

NHS Protect says that CSAS-accredited staff will be given powers to deal decisively with anti-social behaviour. It will also help forge better relationships between NHS organisations and local police leading to greater intelligence sharing on security-related matters and reassurance for the local communities.

Andrew Masterman, Policy Lead – Violence, at NHS Protect said today: “NHS Protect has always encouraged NHS organisations to work in close partnership with the police and other organisations to tackle crime. The Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS) provides NHS organisations with another opportunity to strengthen public and local community safety in partnership with their local police force.

“Many NHS employees already contribute to community safety and indirectly, to neighbourhood policing. Through CSAS they can obtain formal accreditation for this role, if their area is covered.”

Chief Constable Simon Cole, the NPCC Lead for Local Policing, said the scheme is about the public, the private sector and the police working as a team to tackle the issues and priorities that matter most to our communities. "The increasing uptake by private and public organisations shows how effective it has been. We hope this success will allow police officers to spend more time on patrol and increase community safety.”

Anti-social behaviour on NHS premises must be taken seriously as it can affect the quality of service delivered, by distracting and diverting staff from their duties. It can be stressful or intimidating for staff and visitors, and may escalate into violence or other serious incidents.

NHS Protect is asking chief executives, executive boards and senior security managers to support this new CSAS guidance as an important strategy to help address anti-social behaviour. CSAS is locally driven and NHS organisations would need to ask their local police force if they can enter a partnership either under an existing local area scheme or by setting up a new one.

NHS Protect says reviews by the Home Office have indicated numerous benefits of the CSAS scheme, including reduction in crime and enhanced community engagement.

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