Legal powers for NHS security3rd August 2006
A Department of Health consultation document has suggested giving legal powers to hospital security staff in a bid to tackle nuisance behaviour at NHS sites.
The document highlights the frustrations of security managers who can spend hours ‘baby-sitting’ offenders while they wait for the police to remove them.
The document suggests two options. The first alternative suggests an increase in the provision of security staff within the NHS which would reduce the potential for crime to occur but would not tackle the original problem of security staff having no legal powers to remove a person from NHS premises. The second option (which the DoH favours) leans towards new legislation to create an offence of causing a nuisance or disturbance on NHS premises, with the power for ‘certain NHS employees’ to remove the person creating the nuisance or disturbance. The new power would cover people making a noise, refusing to leave, and people complaining for no reason.
The document acknowledges that there will be difficulties in ensuring genuine medical cases are not allowed to slip through the net but also insists that the safety of NHS staff is paramount.
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