#Police forced to use unpaid #volunteers in key roles because of budget cuts. (#UK #Crime #Austerity #Politics)

policedisgIt has been a long time since we have seen local policing in every community in the UK. With the effects of cuts and police officers spending more time than ever filling in forms to make the government ‘look good’, real policing has been on a steady slope into an abyss, more concerned with collecting money than preventing crime – let alone catching criminals.

As government budget cuts to policing bite, police forces across the UK are having to turn to using unpaid volunteers (not special constables) to perform tasks in forensics and other key areas.

We are entering into a situation where amateurs are being used in a way they were never intended to be used. At least with Special Constables there is a process of training and personal checks to ensure they are able to perform their duties as one would expect a full-time police officer to. Not so with volunteers.

An article in the Observer reveals that the trade union Unison is set to reveal worrying statistics on Monday which show the true state of our police forces and the effects of government cuts.

The Observer report:

Police forces are quietly taking on unpaid volunteers as scene of crime investigators, forensic experts and emergency planning officers as 20% budget cuts bite, it can be revealed.

Forces across the country have been taking on volunteers to fill some of the most sensitive police staff roles and some are seeking to escalate their recruitment drives. There are now 9,000 police support volunteers replacing 15,000 staff jobs lost since 2010. Some forces report plans to double or triple their voluntary staff in the next year.

A report by the public sector union, Unison, due to be published on Monday, complains that there has been no public debate about the trend for volunteers to move from peripheral roles, such as chaplain or custody visitors, to key positions. Home Office guidance on police support officers stipulates that volunteers should not under any circumstance replace the roles of directly employed police staff. Yet responses to Unison’s freedom of information requests provide a long list of job roles carried out by volunteers, many of which have been or are paid roles. These include involvement in forensics, crime scenes, the drug testing of people in custody, emergency planning, property detention, deployment management and the provision of scientific support.

The authors of the union’s report, Home Guard of Police Support Volunteers to Fill in for Police Cuts, write: “The idea of police volunteers has a long history in the shape of neighbourhood watch and the special constabulary. However, the recent rapid rise in the number, and the exponential growth in the roles of police support volunteers, breaks any consensus that may have existed around volunteering for, or with, the police. The impact of the cuts on the police staff workforce has been particularly savage, with 15,000 jobs being cut across forces between 2010 and 2014.

“In this new era of scarce resources, holding to the historic Home Office principles for volunteering schemes has become that much harder. In this report, Unison suggests that these ground rules are now being regularly breached and are in need of urgent review.”

The forces reporting the highest number of volunteers are Thames Valley with 70,459, Surrey with 32,000 and West Yorkshire with 19,432, although Unison say that they do not have an issue with many of the roles filled.

The report also reveals that there have been moves by some within the College of Policing to introduce unpaid police community support officers (PCSOs). Lincolnshire and Northampton police forces were said to be willing to pilot the proposal. PCSOs are civilian members of police staff employed as a uniformed non-warranted officer. Pay for PCSOs varies from force to force from between around £16,000 to around £27,000 a year, but there have been widespread redundancies in recent years.

Unison say that with the support of others within the college, the idea of supplementing their ranks with unpaid volunteers had been blocked for now, but they warn of “a worrying trend”.

The revelation comes as police staff in England and Wales, including community support officers and fingerprint officers, are to be balloted for industrial action in protest at a 1% pay offer.

Last week unions representing civilian staff said they were angry that after a two-year pay freeze they were being subjected to the same restrictions as other public sector workers. NHS staff, including midwives and nurses, went on strike on Monday.

Deputy chief constable Martin Jelley at Northamptonshire Police, which is doubling its voluntary staff to 1,000, and where some volunteers are employed in forensics or intelligence, said: “We have many volunteers who assist us in a wide variety of ways, as do many other organisations; they provide important support to our officers and staff, helping keep our communities safe.” Policing minister Mike Penning said the deployment of volunteers was the responsibility of each force. He said: “This flexible approach allows forces to respond to the individual needs and priorities of their local communities.”

If you take a look at your local police website, you may well find a section tucked away somewhere with information about unpaid volunteers (often referred to as ‘Police Support Volunteers’. If you were the victim of serious crime think if you would be happy with amateur and untrained/inexperienced members of your local community playing key roles in the investigation, while at the same time the government wastes BILLIONS of taxpayer’s money every year.

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4 thoughts on “#Police forced to use unpaid #volunteers in key roles because of budget cuts. (#UK #Crime #Austerity #Politics)

  1. The so called ‘recovery’ is a media led fantasy depending partly on unquantifiable ‘evidence’ like ‘higher numbers finding jobs’ which are measured differently by different vested interests and the ‘purchasing managers’ Index’ also measured differently according to which vested interest is quoting it. The income derived from export PROFITS, however, is declining. We are going down, £14 trillion in debt and still borrowing heavily to meet current demands. There is no money for police. I knew this was coming even 10 years ago. And, I also know that the police will be the last agency to be cut before our civilisation collapses – however you want to define ‘collapse’. So this information, that they are employing untrained civilians to fulfil key roles tells me it will not be long before my ‘Safer Neighbourhood Team’ loses another constable. They only cut the police when there is nothing else left to cut. Should I call a public meeting in my neighbourhood to discuss what we are going to do if/when there is no longer a police response available to urgent calls? Or, should I wait until the one million immigrants predicted by Nigel Farage (and he’s always been right) over the next 3 years begin to really bite into our police and local hospitals? Maybe wait until the first TRANCHE of unemployed poor and extreme from the EU begins to arrive in my region? Or maybe when the local doctors surgery starts charging for consultations would be a good time.

  2. Very true. When the TUC conducted it’s own research it found that real unemployment had increased.

    Even now, the police are unable to cope with the basics of their duties. They are woefully understaffed and are forced to ‘prioritise’ (a euphemism for being in deep trouble and only able to respond to urgent calls).

    The most frustrating thing is that there is money available for full public services. The government waste huge amounts of tax payer’s money on ridiculous (as usually self-interested) things. For example (one of our pet hates) spending £400,000 on RENTING fig trees to go outside MPs offices in Parliament.

    It may not be long before we are forced to defend ourselves. The problem that has purposely been created is the fragmentation of our society. Instead of being a cohesive force, for many areas of the UK ‘community’ is nothing more than a collection of individuals and self-interested groups all separated from each other. The old tactic of ‘divide and conquer’ – a distilling of any real threat to government (we have seen the same thing happen with trade unions etc.)

    So we will have to do what we have to do – if anyone can be bothered after being driven into a state of illusion and apathy. It may be too late by the time many in our society wake up to what is in plain sight.

  3. I don’t know whether that could work over on this side of the pond – with so many cops moonlighting as criminals to make ends meet they would have to worry about getting caught!

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