AA workers have been given police powers to stop drivers and demand names and addresses.

The company has described itself as the “fourth emergency service” and now 20 AA workers in Sussex have been given training and accreditation which has granted them powers usually used by officers of the law.

They would be able to stop vehicles, direct vehicles and demand names and addresses at events such as the Brighton Marathon to try to punish those committing traffic offences, such as using mobile phones at the wheel.

The AA staff would not be able to make arrests, but anyone refusing to reveal their details to them would be committing an offence and could be detained by police.

The majority of the workers are former police officers who joined the AA after retiring.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “The only powers that the AA traffic control officers have are just two out of 38 available – the power to control traffic for purposes other than escorting a load of exceptional dimensions and the power to require name and address for road traffic offences.

“They are not treated as police or PCSOs, their role is completely different.

“However, they would be available to support the police should an emergency situation arise.

“This would be the same whether the traffic marshals were accredited or not.

“Managing the traffic flow and keeping the public safe is very much a team effort, with all the various people involved working together.”

An AA spokesman confirmed it would be working with the police.

He said: “The accredited training course incorporates a range of subjects including traffic-related legislation, customer service, risk assessment and first-aid training.”

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