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Force: “Specials will not replace regular constables”

PrintVolunteers and Special Constables being drafted into West Yorkshire Police “will not be used to replace regular police officers”, the force has emphasised.

Assistant Chief Constable Craig Guildford said plans are “well advanced for the recruitment of extra volunteers, including Special Constables this year”.

But he denied this was to replace falling police officer numbers.

Speaking at the beginning of January, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said the plan was to recruit “approximately 1,000 Special Constables in the New Year.” He described it as a role vital to effective policing in West Yorkshire.”

Mr Burns-Williamson’s office  – and the force – have so far declined to give any more detail about the plans, or timescales for the recruitment.

However Nick Smart, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation said proposals to recruit 1,000 volunteer constables from 2014 onwards were a “massive ask”.

He added: “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.”

However in response, Mr Guildford said: “Work has been underway to make sure the recruitment, kitting out and training of new volunteers in West Yorkshire is entirely achievable and we look forward to bringing in new staff to help keep people safe and feeling safe.

“We would like to thank all those local people who have already applied to join us.

“It must be stressed that new volunteers and Special Constables will not be used to replace regular Police officers. There remain duties which can and should only be performed by full time, paid, uniformed officers. West Yorkshire Police has also signed a Volunteer Charter guaranteeing that the rights and roles of paid staff are protected.

“As austerity bites and regular officer levels regrettably reduce over the Comprehensive Spending Review period, volunteering allows us to bring new skills and capabilities into the organisation. It also provides us with a talent pool from which we can hire new Police officers and PCSO’s as vacancies do become available.”

Date posted: February 6, 2014

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