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Using specials for non-neighbourhood roles 'makes perfect sense'


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Met reportedly putting volunteers into counter-terror command.

Met Police specials pictured in 2015

Met Police specials pictured in 2015


Plans to put special constables into the country’s biggest counter-terror unit have been defended by a staff organisation.

Reports this week say the Met is recruiting 20 warranted volunteer officers into its counter-terrorism command.

The Police Federation of England and Wales has criticised the increased use of volunteers in policing – issuing a statement last year when the National Police Chiefs’ Council was about to launch a recruitment drive.

But others say that it makes sense to use skills that volunteers already hold from their day jobs, rather than just putting them on response and patrol duties.

Ian Miller, chairman of the Association of Special Constabulary Chief Officers, said: “The Met has developed a very well thought out strategy for using the special constabulary and it’s a great improvement on the automatic placing of SC officers into neighbourhood policing teams.

"That happened before regardless of their personal skills and their interests.

“The Met and other forces, now have a far better understanding of where SC officers have skills and experience that can help support specialist units either where there is greater demand than capacity or where the force would have to buy them in from the private sector."

He added: “Several forces are already using qualified specials, and volunteers, in economic crime and cyber crime roles, reducing considerably the amounts they’d have to spend with consulting firms to buy in these skills.

“It makes perfect sense, and regular officers can benefit from the skills transfer from the private sector too.”

Bedfordshire Police has previously deployed a special as an airport dog handler, while the community work of a South Yorkshire special is said to have helped tackle radicalisation in Sheffield.

Those honoured in last year’s Lord Ferrers Awards included volunteer forensic accountant Andrea Phipps who has saved Merseyside Police the cost of hiring an extra professional financial expert.

Hampshire Constabulary’s cyber specials team – which consists of IT experts using their spare time to fight crime – were runners-up at the ceremony.

Calum Macleod, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, told the Mail on Sunday: “This is yet another step towards policing on the cheap, and a further indication that money is being put before safety and a properly resourced police service.

“Special constables provide a valuable service but they should never replace experienced officers in these hare-brained schemes.”

The Metropolitan Police had not responded to a request for comment before this article went live.

Across the UK, including in the Met, the number of special constables has fallen sharply in the last few years.

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