In its 2011 Master Plan for Parking, the BPA called for assurance that Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) would enjoy the same protection in law as Police Officers whilst undertaking their public duties.
We also wanted to understand whether the Courts viewed an assault on a CEO as being similar to those on Police Officers in terms of penalties imposed.
The BPA were pleased to receive clarification on these issues from Lord Justice Leveson, Chairman of the Sentencing Council, following correspondence.
He told us that unfortunately, the courts will not treat an assault on a CEO in the same serious nature as an assault on a member of the Police force. Whilst it is the Sentencing Council’s intention to ensure protection for those working within the public sector, an assault against a Police officer is viewed as a separate offence and is dealt with according to a different set of guidelines.
The Sentencing Council do say that the recommended sentencing range will be raised in relation to an offence against a Police officer, whilst an offence against a CEO would simply be judged as a case of common assault.
However, where an instance occurs of a more serious assault, such as Actual Bodily Harm (ABH), offences against both CEOs and Police officers would be treated in a similar way using yet another different set of guidelines.
These guidelines would take into account both the fact that the victim was serving the public at the time of the offence and also the ‘aggravating factor’, which refers to extreme circumstances considered within a case, and as a result sentencing could be adjusted according to the seriousness and severity of the assault.
Whilst the BPA welcomes this guidance, we still seek better protection for CEOs and will continue to lobby on this issue. As parking management and enforcement becomes an increasing and necessary part of our town centres, high streets and residential areas, we feel strongly that CEOs should be recognised and protected to the highest level. It is not acceptable to abuse or assault a CEO.
BPA members should be pleased with this guidance from the Sentencing Council and in situations where a CEO is assaulted in the course of their work employers are encouraged to seek a prosecution of the offender and draw the Courts’ attention to these Sentencing Council guidelines.
The BPA also publishes a Parking Practice Note on Conflict Management.