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Suffolk: Volunteer police officers could work undercover or join detectives under new plans for the county’s constabulary

PUBLISHED: 14:00 29 January 2013

Man fined for swearing at police officer

Man fined for swearing at police officer

Archant Norfolk Photographic é 2011

THE Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk has revealed he wants to form a mounted division of special constables.

The move, suggested by Tim Passmore as part of a long-term plan to expand the role of volunteer officers, could also see them working undercover or as detectives.

But Police Federation bosses, who represent the county’s rank and file, have claimed the level of expertise required for specialist roles could only be achieved by officers who work full time.

Mr Passmore, who recently unveiled his blueprint for policing the county, said he hopes to have 350 special constables working in Suffolk communities by the end of the year.

He added: “We know we need to expand the number of specials because they are an integral part of what we want to do over the next few years.

“The advantage of specials is, and this is not just to do with costs, it is an opportunity for people who want to play a vital role throughout the whole of Suffolk.”

The number of serving specials has already increased since Mr Passmore’s election, going from 293 in November 2012 to 312 at the end of last week.

Speaking to the EADT Mr Passmore said that special constables have a “very special role” to play in the future of the force.

He added: “We have in the past, and it is certainly something I want to resurrect, looked at getting a mounted division of specials.

“Those in the riding fraternity know that you can see an awful lot on a horse.

“There also might be possibilities for one or two more dog handling units - again to support the mainline guys when there’s a peak in demand.”

Mr Passmore said: “There are other roles that I’m really enthusiastic about as well, it doesn’t have to be the front line approach. You can have those that do undercover work, detective work – they might have expertise from their own employment – e-crime, internet crime, accounting fraud, legal, medical services, caring professions, domestic violence.

“It’s a very exciting prospect. Of course, specials don’t do it full time, they do a certain amount of hours, but of course it can be very rewarding for them and society benefits.”

He added: “It’s another example of where in these difficult financial times communities have got to help each other.”

But Mr Passmore insisted that specials, who have the same powers as regular constables, would continue to operate in addition to frontline officers, rather than replace them.

“It would be disrespectful to people who put themselves as volunteers for this. It is complementary it is not instead of. I want to make that clear to people,” he added.

Matt Gould, chairman of the county’s police federation, said: “Overall we are very supportive of our special constabulary and we work very closely with them on a day-to-day basis.

“If they are provided with the right levels of training for the very specialist roles that are being talked about, I think that would require them to be full time. It is unlikely they would be able to achieve those levels of expertise fitting it in around their weekends and off-duty periods.”

SIDEBAR - IF FITS

SPECIAL constables clock up between 7,500 and 8,500 hours each month, according to Suffolk Constabulary.

A spokesman for the force said: “Often people see the specials as a way of gaining experience before joining the regular constabulary and as a result last year just over 20 of our specials were recruited as police officers. The Constabulary regularly holds recruitment evenings and visits colleges around the county but as the Specials are made up of volunteers you do have to expect some natural losses from time to time.”

If anyone is interested in joining the Special Constabulary details can be found on: http://www.suffolk.police.uk/joinus/specialconstables.aspx

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