Here’s a question for you: What would happen if you dressed up as a police officer, kitted yourself out with handcuffs and a stab vest, drove around in a vehicle with flashing blue lights and told people you had powers of arrest? Then, just to top it off, you named yourself and all your playmates after a well known police response unit?
The answer of course is that you would be arrested and charged with a criminal offence under section 90 of the Police Act 1996 which states:
90 Impersonation, etc.
(2)Any person who, not being a constable, wears any article of police uniform in circumstances where it gives him an appearance so nearly resembling that of a member of a police force as to be calculated to deceive shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
So how do you do all the above and get away with it? Simple. Just make sure that you are an ex police officer and everyone you employ are ex police officers. Not because it will make what you are doing any more lawful, it will just ensure that if anyone complains, your brothers in arms in the proper police will look the other way.
That’s what it appears that TSG Policing are doing. A company that have not only cynically hijacked the initials of the Metropolitan Police’s official TSG squad (a squad of notoriously violent officers assigned to public order events) they’ve kitted themselves out with police style uniforms, cars with blue flashing lights and exaggerated claims that they have the powers of arrest.
Here’s some of the claims they make on their website:
What is the difference between your TSG Officers and Police Officers?
The main difference is that we do not have the powers of a constable but we do not need this. In our working capacity there is no more a Police Constable can do than a TSG Officer.
Why do you have blue lights and sirens on your vehicles?
Due to the nature of our operational purpose, we use audio blue lights to safely alert people of our passage. Our vehicles are specially insured and our drivers trained.
Can you arrest people?
Yes we can. Our staff have a thorough understanding on LAW and legislation which enables us to carry out arrest procedures if we need to.
Well I can assure you that outside of citizen’s arrest and breach of the peace – powers that we all have – these clowns enjoy no arrest powers at all. They do however seem to possess powers of misleading the public.
Mutton Dressed as Lamb
The first question I asked myself when landing on their website is how can a private limited company – established in 2012 – and listed at Companies House as ‘Definitive PSA Ltd’, be using the initials of an official police squad established in 1987 as a trading name?
Although the Met TSG unit stands for Territorial Support Group and TSG Policing stands for Tactical Support Group, this minor alteration and deliberate attempt at passing off is not an immunisation from the law on deceptive business names. This is because the use of ‘police’ or ‘policing’ in any business name (registered or trading as) is a sensitive and prohibited word under The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business Names (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2009. You need the permission of the Secretary of State before you can affiliate yourself with the police by way of name. Something it’s safe to assume that TSG Policing have not done. But this didn’t deter them from trademarking the name.
I checked the database of registered trademarks and sure enough TSG registered the three letters of the METs official police squad, but not the words TSG Policing:
Regardless of the legality of the Trademark, the use of TSG is a deliberate attempt at passing off; a law that prevents a business from misrepresenting goods or services as being the goods and services of another. But what more can you expect from a company that isn’t so much trying to convince the public they are police officers as trying to convince the public they are a police force. They’ve even had a special crest designed to look just like any other police constabulary, which they emblazon across their vehicles.
Vehicles, which the website admits, has blue flashing lights for ‘operational purposes’. The question is, what operational purposes would make it lawful to put blue flashing lights on your roof and drive around like the proper coppers do? I thought that only emergency vehicles can be fitted with blue flashing lights. A security guard vehicle is NOT an emergency vehicle by any creative interpretation of the meaning. I even searched the “The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989” high and low for any exemptions. I didn’t find any. I did find this however:
Flashing blue light is prohibited under section 11 except under the following provisions:
h) blue light and white light from a chequered domed lamp fitted to a police control vehicle and intended for use at the scene of an emergency;
(k)blue light from a warning beacon or rear special warning lamp fitted to an emergency vehicle, or from any device fitted to a vehicle used for police purposes;
TSG is staffed primarily with former police officers of high ranking positions including Allan Binks, previously an inspector with Greater Manchester Police, Martin Greaves, a Training Manager for the Met and former Avon & Somerset and Metropolitan Police superintendent Kevin Instance. So there is absolutely no excuse for not knowing the law. However, David Peter Boswell, the 30 year old Managing Director of TSG never misses an opportunity to overstate his affiliation with the police, as illustrated in an interview he gave for a popular music events website:
“When you consider the majority of senior management at TSG are former police professionals, that is easy to understand. Police might have additional powers but on an event site, unless there is a very specific need for police support, a TSG officer can provide the same service as a PC.”
Except of course for arresting people for anti-social behaviour, stop and searching people they reasonably suspect to be carrying drugs or weapons, holding people in custody, arresting members of the public for minor public order offences and other such services that commonly involve maintaining vast crowds of people at public events.
That doesn’t deter ex Metropolitan police training manager Martin Greaves from overselling TSGs powers of arrest by stating:
“Our training covers the key elements common to police recruits, including a thorough understanding of the law and the procedures to be followed in relation to arrests and crime scenes.“
Their blog (now removed) shrills yet more privatised law enforcement puffery with the declaration:
“We can offer you the choice of reducing the amount of police officers at your event of (sic) substitute them completely known as Event Policing. AND here’s the fun fact – we’re the only Event Security company that offer this unique and specialist service in the industry”.
What utter dross. TSG are not police officers nor any substitute for them. Nor do they offer anything unique or specialised other than being the best security outfit in the country for mimicking the police.
TSG are yet another recruitment agency into the ever growing hi-viz army of security guards that patrol our streets, shopping centres and public events. Irrespective of whatever excuses they spin, they dress, act and misrepresent themselves with the deliberate intent of misleading the public into thinking they are police officers. The police themselves are perfectly happy to allow these clipboard fascists to wander among us, deputising themselves with whatever make believe powers they fantasize about, because it gives the wrongful impression that there are more uniformed officers on the street.
All of the incursions that TSG engage in to mis-sell themselves may appear petty individually, but taken together they are extremely worrying. The fact that you can flex and bend minor laws such as flashing blue lights, use of an official police squad name, faux police crest, unlawful company names, boasts of police powers, and whatever off-the peg infractions take your fancy, until you are looking, sounding and acting exactly like the police, just goes to demonstrate how willing our government is to blockade us all with these tin-pot police constabularies patrolling us and intentionally giving the impression that they can throw us in jail.
We are already the most watched nation in the world by way of CCTV, how long before we become the most patrolled with this unmonitored, unaccountable and ever growing army of trumped up power crazed security guards.
UPDATE: TSG changed their name from ‘Policing’ to ‘Officers’ and dumped their old website of the previous name.
They are still mis-selling themselves as police operatives but when you consider how incompetent the police are, TSG’s assimilation with them is probably accurate.