Protective services officers

Read our legal information about COVID-19 coronavirus.

Protective services officers

Protective services officers are armed and uniformed officers who have the power to apprehend, arrest, search and fine people. Their powers are restricted to particular areas, called 'designated places'.

Designated areas

Designated areas are set out in the police regulations as:

  • railway stations
  • car parking areas near the stations
  • roads used to access railway stations
  • bus stops and taxi ranks that are next to railway stations
  • private land that is used as a car park or related to public transport that is near railway stations.


Within designated places, protective services officers have many powers. They can:

  • issue fines for offences like being drunk in public, swearing or committing a public transport or ticket offence
  • arrest you if they suspect you have broken the law
  • ask for your name and address if they believe you have broken the law or you are about to break the law
  • fine you for carrying a can of spray paint while you are at or near a train station unless you can prove you need it for your work or your trade, even if you did not mark graffiti or intend to mark graffiti 
  • apprehend you if they believe you are mentally ill and you have recently tried to seriously hurt yourself or someone else, or you are likely to do so 
  • search you, your bag or your car for weapons if they reasonably suspect you have a weapon
  • order you to move on if they believe you are breaching the peace, endangering the safety of others or you may damage property
  • arrest you if you appear to be drunk
  • use reasonable force when doing their job.

Protective services offices can also ask you to show proof of age if they have reason to suspect you are drinking alcohol underage or you are about to drink underage.

They can also search you and your car for cans of spray paint or other graffiti tools if they believe you are 14 or over and you are carrying those items, even if it's just because you are in an area where there is a lot of graffiti.

You may be charged with a criminal offence if you refuse to give a protective services officer your details or if you resist them while they are carrying out their lawful duties.

You have a right to ask a protective services officer for their details if they ask you for your name and address.

Get help

Find out how you can get help with public transport offences.

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