The XFOR Group are a diversified Security company who offer support services for local authorities including the provision contract enforcement/fixed penalty officers.
In such cases the usual arrangement is for the local authority to pay XFOR on a “per ticket issued” basis. Part of the income generated by the Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) receipts pays for the hire of XFOR’s Enforcement Officers. The arrangements are generally cash neutral for the authority.
XFOR’s staff also complete witness statements and assist with the production of prosecution files for the subsequent court action action if the FPN fee is not paid.
I met with XFOR’s Group Operations Director, Michael Fisher, to find out more.
They are currently running a 6 month pilot scheme with my own local authority, the London Borough of Hillingdon. It commenced on 1st September 2011. They have 4 men working 8 hours shifts on duty every day. In the first month alone they issued 570 FPNs for littering. (I make that one every two hours per man).
Offenders are first asked to provide ID. If they cannot provide this they are asked for their home post code and then their house number and street name. Experience has taught that while people can easily make up a house number and street name they have difficulty giving a false post code.
The Officers then make a phone call to their control centre to check if the address matches the post code. Google maps may then be used to identify a local feature about which they can question the offender to verify that he or she knows the area.
It is very rare for offenders to run off.
The Officers wear uniforms bearing the LB Hillingdon insignia. They are also fitted with body-worn cameras to record their exchanges with offenders
The FPN fine for littering is £80 reduced to £50 if paid within 14days.
The FPN tickets are given to the offenders on the spot.
XFOR have embedded staff at LBH to prepare the prosecution files for non-payers ready for signing off by council staff.
If unpaid a reminder letter is sent followed by one warning of a prosecution if the fee is not paid by return.
If this goes unheeded, and the offence is prosecuted in the magistrates’ court, XFOR staff prepare a S9 Criminal Justice Act 1967 statement. This obviates the need for the Officer who handed out the FPN to appear in court as a witness.
Of the 570 FPNs issued in September 12 prosecution files have been prepared.
As of 23rd January 2012 no cases have been heard. It is understood that the accumulated prosecutions will all be heard shortly probably all on the same day.
The court fines go to Exchequer but Local Authorities can claim costs.
XFOR officers are paid a salary plus a bonus based on a number of performance criteria not just on revenue alone.
XFOR also have projects running in Enfield, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire and Maidstone.
Having met Michael and looked round their control centre in Victoria I came away with the impression that XFOR were a substantial and highly professional organisation.
23rd January 2012