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Special mission to keep cyber and fraud expertise in the service


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Force is developing 'police reserve' which is hoped will make use of accountants, bankers and former officers.

City of London regulars, volunteers and specials at an attestation ceremony earlier this year

City of London regulars, volunteers and specials at an attestation ceremony earlier this year

Date - 12th November 2018
By - Ian Weinfass - Police Oracle
6 Comments6 Comments}


If police officers with cyber and fraud knowledge leave to join the private sector, is there a way for law enforcement to retain their talents?

The special constabulary at City of London Police, the national lead for economic crime, is trying to do just that.

The force is changing the way it recruits volunteers into a police reserve system, and hopes it can make the most of former regulars as well as professionals from the financial sector.

Special Commander James Phipson told Police Oracle that those with fraud and cyber skills are too often lost to policing.

“We can't train up those skills, or if we do train up those skills we lose them into the banks.

“We shouldn’t be losing them, we should view this as a lifetime’s mutual association, where we keep those skills current for their new employer and in return their employer makes a commitment to us,” he said.

If companies know their staff are learning about law and police procedure and the force can use people with expert knowledge, both sides benefit, he believes.

Employer-supported policing schemes, including where companies give their staff extra holiday to serve as specials, have been around for some time but the City force thinks far greater use can be made of them.

Part of their current project is looking at making sure that the skills of everyone who applies to serve with the force are put to use in a suitable manner and their time is not wasted, S/Comm Phipson explained.

People often raise the prospect of a conflict of interest, the special chief officer, who advises businesses including finance firms in his day job, said.

And that is something which could crop up further if, as hoped, financial firms in the City sign up to employer-supported policing programmes with the force.

But he doesn't feel it is a big problem. “We have to manage that quite closely already. If we have a special who’s a banker and there’s an issue involving that bank, the person managing that case will have to look at the special and ask is there a conflict of interest?

“Say an accountancy firm supplies us with 20 compliance staff, we’re going to have to look at a cases they’re working on and ask if there is a conflict.

“It’s actually easier with an organisation than with an individual because organisations have a compliance department and you can ask if there is a conflict, whereas with an individual you’ve got to wait for them to scratch their head and say I’m not sure whether this person is a client of ours or that there might be something else,” he said.

It is hoped a major corporate partner will be announced early in the new year.

Another element of work at the force is a move to try to keep regulars on as part of a police reserve encompassing both specials and other volunteers. This involves changing the approach to people leaving the service.

S/Comm Phipson said: “In the Met, for example, if you go from detective chief inspector to wanting to join the specials, you have to go back down to being a special constable and you also get put into the pool of specials wherever they want to deploy you – and that’s in uniform policing.

“That’s insanity because you’ve got somebody that is the peak of their career, generally retiring [or] moving to a bank.

“That’s the absolute paradise spot for us because we could get somebody with incredible experience. We can tell the bank they’re an ex-cop but they’re still getting training, so the bank gets somebody whose skills will always be current and therefore its still useful to them.”

The force has seven ex-regulars within, or about to join, its reserve. These include its incoming head of economic crime volunteers - a former detective chief inspector with the Metropolitan Police.

From the ranks of the City too, departing regulars are being seen as potentially useful to the force, and asked if they would consider continuing to contribute. A fraud analyst who recently left has stayed on as a volunteer.

S/Comm Phipson added: “Whether we keep them as a cadet supervisor, special or a volunteer, we want to keep those skills.”

Volunteer posts are more flexible as there is no minimum time needed to contribute, but rather: “You’re there if we need you. It means  that if you’re known to us, and we want you to come and help, we know.

“If the balloon goes up, if there’s another Borough Market [terror attack] - which is where they all regret leaving the service, they all want to come in and help - we can drag them in and put a high vis on them and get them to man a cordon.

“It gives us the ability to scale-up in all sorts of ways.”

The changes are part of a Home Office funded pilot being assessed by the Institute for Public Safety, Crime and Justice. If successful it is hoped elements can be used at other forces to adapt for their own purposes

View On Police Oracle

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