By James Kirkup, Political Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:22PM BST 27 Aug 2008
Despite lacking formal police training, hundreds of civilians have been made part of the "extended police family" by the Home Office under little-known legislation.
They have not been asked to wear any special uniforms to identify themselves, but must wear only a badge that can be as small as 73mm x 80mm.
The disclosure that hundreds of civilians have been given enforcement powers drew accusations that the Government is encouraging the spread of unaccountable policing.