Around 1,600 parking tickets have been handed out by Cheshire Constabulary PCSOs who did not have the contractual power to issue them – but the affected motorists will not be reimbursed.
The administrative blunder surfaced during a review undertaken by Cheshire police – following issues identified at other forces – which found omissions in the employment contracts of a number of PCSOs meant they were not contractually empowered to issue non-endorsable Police Fixed Penalty Notices for parking offences.
The contracts in question were issued during two periods – prior to 2006 and after 2010.
With records for fixed penalty notices stretching back to January 1, 2007, the force estimates that some 1,600 tickets were issued by PCSOs without the authority to do so.
All of the constabulary’s PCSOs were instructed to stop issuing fixed penalty notices once the issue came to light, but the terms of the affected PCSOs have been altered so the power has now been reinstated.
After obtaining legal advice, Asst Chief Con Mark Roberts said the force does not propose to reimburse individuals who may have been given a fixed penalty notice by a PCSO without the contractual power, because by paying the fine motorists have admitted their liability for the parking violation and, administratively, the force cannot ‘confidently’ identify those who may have paid the tickets.
Asst Chief Con Roberts said: “No PCSO acted knowingly beyond their powers in issuing parking tickets to motorists, nor did the organisation knowingly permit PCSOs to issue tickets in the absence of an ability to do so.
“Indeed, appropriate and extensive training was delivered to all PCSOs to provide them with the knowledge and training to issue these tickets correctly.
“Whilst we are confident that all fixed penalty notices were issued in good faith, the constabulary wishes to apologise for the uncertainty this has generated.”
John Dwyer , Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner, said he was ‘very disappointed that this mistake has been made’.
“It is clear that previous chief constables wished PCSOs to have the power, but that an administrative error meant that this wasn’t implemented,” Mr Dwyer added.
“This pre-dates both myself and the current chief constable.
“While I remain unhappy that this issue has arisen, the constabulary has acted to ensure all PCSO employment contracts now contain the necessary powers.”
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