Plans for West Yorkshire Police to recruit 1,000 Special Constables this year must not be at the expense of regular police officers, the chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation has said.
Nick Smart, said proposals to recruit 1,000 volunteer constables from 2014 onwards were a “massive ask” and said the Fed “remain to be convinced that it is feasible.”
Mr Smart said: “Who is going to do the training? Who is going to look after them? They have to be monitored and managed at a time when everyone is being asked to do more.
“If you have one or two Specials on teams – we have the capability to guide, support and manage them. If they are only doing 6 hours a week – that isn’t much time. They need managing. If we have got ten of them on a team – it seems like a bit of a free-for-all.
“There are some fantastic Specials out there who do a great job, but bringing in 1,000 over two years is ambitious. We remain to be convinced that it is feasible.”
Speaking at the beginning of January, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said: “We are also planning to recruit approximately 1,000 Special Constables in the New Year, a role vital to effective policing in West Yorkshire.”
Mr Burns-Williamson’s office has so far declined to give any more detail about the plans, or timescales for the recruitment.
However Mr Smart added: “The force is trying to bring the Specials in as soon as possible – the plan is to bring them all in over the next 18 months to two years we believe. We are not sure that the force has the capacity to do it.
“You have to get 1,000 uniforms and 1,000 people trained and with the costs involved – is that going to have an impact on regular officers?
“There is also an issue with retention rates. Yes, some stay for years, but a lot of them come and go very quickly.
“And we have to find them meaningful roles; in the past they have been used and abused – in the past they have been put on the more menial tasks.
“Things have changed and we have Specials who are involved in operations – public order for example – and we welcome that. But at the same time we have to ask if aiming for so many of them is policing on the cheap. If they have these roles, is that going to be at the expense of regular officers?”
“We can understand the need to have an increase in Specials, but even in the force’s heyday we would not have recruited that many in such a short space of time. It is a massive ask.”
Date posted: January 23, 2014