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  1. Former chief officers group open to all volunteer officers. All specials in England and Wales will soon be able to join a staff association after what was a chief officer group voted to expand its membership. The Association of Special Constabulary Chief Officers will become the Association of Special Constabulary Officers (ASCO), and open its doors to volunteer officers at any level of experience. Among its plans is to train a network of representatives to represent specials at disciplinary matters which don’t meet the threshold for Home Office cover. That cover currently only applies if gross misconduct or criminal accusations are levelled at a special. The organisation describes itself as the UK’s lead body for volunteer policing, and takes part in research and tries to spread good practice. It also plans member discounts for third party organisations. ASCO chairman Special Commissioner Ian Miller said: “We had a meeting on Saturday to see if we should get members to confirm they are happy for us to open our membership to all special constables regardless of rank and it was agreed. “Many forces have been trying to expand their special constabularies in recent years but there hasn’t been a national organisation to speak for them.” Membership fees for the association will be reviewed, but are currently set at £10 per year. The rank change will be effective as of next week. The Police Federation of England and Wales voted to allow specials to join it in 2014 but the Home Office decided not to allow this. The department said it would ensure specials have “the representation they need” in 2016, but is yet to change its policies regarding the officers. View On Police Oracle
  2. ASCO

    What is ASCO currently working on?

    Our work Training standards ASCCO (ASCO’s predecessor) agreed national training standards for basic training for the Special Constabulary and the level required to achieve Independent Patrol Status (IPS) as part of the first National Strategy for the Special Constabulary:http://www.college.police.uk/What-we-do/Support/Citizens/Special-Constabulary/Documents/SC_Strategy_2011-16.pdf Our standard is IL4SC and we recommended this to all Forces. What’s happening now? There is still variation across the country with some forces achieving the standards and others failing to provide the basic curriculum. The planned Professional Educational Qualifications Framework (PEQF) which is being developed by the College of Policing will see substantial changes in approaches to training standards and approaches for regular officers – including graduate entry, graduate apprenticeships and work-placed assessment. We challenged the College on their suggestion that Special Constables would not need to achieve the same standards. The NPCC supported us in that position. The result is that Special Constables will have to reach the same standards as regular officers. We are now working with the College to work out how the Special Constabulary fit within these new requirements. Our policy position: we want to see all forces maintaining agreed training standards (IL4SC) for Special Constabulary officers while new national standards are being developed. We believe that all Special Constables should be supported to achieve the same standards as regular officers. Access to training ASCCO represented the Special Constabulary in the College of Policing Leadership Review resulting in the College policy that all training should be available to Special Constables as well as regular officers – regardless of rank – provided there is an appropriate business case for this. It has even been accepted that Special Constables can apply for the Strategic Command Course that prepares regular senior officers and police staff for appointments of Assistant Chief Constable or Assistant Chief Officer and above. The course is currently a full-time commitment for 4-6 months and we are keen to put forward appropriate candidates to both test the agreement and give recognition to the skills and value offered by the Special Constabulary. There is currently considerable national variation in the way that Special Constables are trained and deployed. Some forces put Special Constables into Neighbourhood Policing and don’t allow them to do response work. Others utilize Special Constabulary primarily on response. Some train to Public Order Level II standards and deploy in that role while others deploy without training to this standard. An increasing number of forces are now being more imaginative and using the skills of Special Constables in investigation, cyber-crime and economic crime or in other specialist roles like Mounted policing or marine units. We believe that the police service would be enriched by greater access by Special Constables to the variety of roles in which they have been shown to have a positive impact. We have written formally to the College of Policing CEO to ask that the College set standards and training requirements across Special Constabulary ranks. The power for the College to do this was written in to the Policing and Crime Act 2017 because of our lobbying with the Home Office and Policing Minister. Our policy position: we want the College of Policing to set standards and training requirements across Special Constabulary ranks as they for regular police ranks to ensure Special Constables have the opportunity to demonstrate they can achieve the same standards as regular officers and have access to training to support them to do so. Taser We have challenged the decision of the Professional Committee not to give Special Constables Tasers and have encouraged the NPCC to review their approach. Chief Constables will vote in July on whether Special Constables should be trained and equipped with Taser if they want that and it’s appropriate to their role. Our policy position: Special Constables deployed to roles in which regular officers would be equipped with Taser should have access to appropriate training and equipment to be similarly equipped and protected to regular colleagues Rank Structure National surveys of attrition of the Special Constabulary demonstrate that a Special Constabulary rank structure is critical to maintaining the supervision and support that enables and encourages Special Constables to give their free time to policing. However, forces regularly question the need for these structures. We work to emphasise the importance of a Special Constabulary rank structure in national standards development. We also work with individual forces to spread our experience of what works to retain and support volunteers. For example, we recently met with a DCC in a force that did not have a rank structure which resulted in a change in approach and a new rank structure being implemented. We were also asked to support the Met Special Constabulary when a publicly available report recommended that ranks be removed. We assisted the Chief Officer to prepare a rebuttal to the findings of that report, which was then reported by Police Oracle. We then drafted the recommended roles for each rank and that was used to get agreement to retain the rank structure. Our policy position: we want all forces to adopt and support a Special Constabulary rank structure that provides effective leadership to the Special Constabulary and helps Special Constables to feel valued and supported Well-being We signed up to the Mind Blue Light mental health campaign. Equality and diversity In the first national benchmarking exercise 14% of SCs left the service because they felt discriminated against. We want to maximise the contribution that people of all backgrounds and communities can bring to the police service to create a wider service that is genuinely representative, accountable and legitimate. Our priorities Increase diversity of our membership to ensure we are representing all Special Constables to contribute to the service and maximising the potential to increase wider diversity within the service. · We will increase our understanding of the experience of Special Constables who are minorities within the service (in particular we lack information about the experience of disabled SCs - research, exit interview process) · We will seek the views of diverse groups in our contribution to national strategy and policy (develop diversity network / forum) · We will work to reduce differential attrition rates of minority groups within the Special Constabulary · We will work to increase representation of Special Constables from diverse backgrounds in leadership positions · We will work with others to develop welfare support arrangements for Special Constables experiencing discrimination Enabling factors – rank structure, standardized promotions processes, We are supporting the ‘He for She’ campaign for gender equality
  3. Members of new group want to represent all volunteers in policing. Dale Checksfield is a founder member of the Volunteers in Law Enforcement Association A rival staff association for policing volunteers has been launched by former members of a long-established special constabulary group. The Volunteers in Law Enforcement Association (VLEA) wants to “provide representation and legal support to special constables and volunteers in policing across the UK”. It is hoping to become the designated official staff association for unpaid personnel in the police service – and is trying to stage a late entrance into the Home Office’s deliberations on the issue which were supposed to have concluded in 2016. Durham Constabulary Chief Officer Dale Checksfield, national cyber specials lead Tom Haye and Wiltshire Special Superintendent Scott Bateman have founded the organisation. Two of the three were until recently council members at the Association of Special Constabulary Officers, which recently expanded to open membership to all specials having previously represented higher special ranks. In a statement, the new group said it wanted to provide representation for all types of volunteers in policing. It says this is needed because of the increased number of volunteering roles in policing such as volunteer PCSOs and cyber volunteers. S/CO Checksfield added: “The time is right for reform in representation and an inclusive organisation which fills the gap which current offerings do not provide in supporting those who give their time freely in our communities is much needed.” Plans are at an early stage however, with VLEA membership currently being free but issues such as how it will offer legal support not yet worked out. One of the organisation’s claimed selling points is its expressed desire to work with existing staff associations such as the Police Federation. Police Oracle asked S/CO Checksfield to comment on the split from ASCO and why members of VLEA didn’t try to reform the existing organisation. He said he did not want to speak on the record about ASCO and referred us to the group’s press statement which does not mention its rival by name. ASCO chairman Ian Miller pointed out that his association is a member of 13 national policing groups including the police advisory board of England and Wales, the NPCC's citizens in policing strategy board and the national fitness testing working group. He added: “We’re aware of the small splinter group that are attempting to set up a competitive body for the special constabulary and we are not in the least concerned. "We can never satisfy all of our members at the same time and the move to extend membership of ASCO to all special constabulary officers, regardless of rank, wasn’t supported by everyone. "We doubt the group involved understands what’s involved in representing the special constabulary." S/Commander Miller added he cannot see why the Home Office would re-open its consultation on specials representation for a group with "very limited capacity or experience". He said ASCO cannot provide representation for other types of volunteer straight away as it needs to first focus on its expansion to cover all special constables, after which the organisation will be able to look at a further expansion. View On Police Oracle

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