Vol­un­teers ‘car­ry­ing po­lice’

Daily Express - - Waging War On Loneliness -

CASH-strapped po­lice forces are in­creas­ingly re­ly­ing on vol­un­teers to fill key gaps in the ser­vice, a re­port claimed yesterday.

The fig­ure is just more than 6,000 peo­ple in three years as the num­ber of paid sup­port staff has plum­meted by 20,000, union Uni­son said.

These un­paid work­ers can help po­lice of­fi­cers by in­ter­act­ing with the pub­lic, staffing front desk coun­ters and even fol­low­ing up crime re­ports.

Fig­ures show Hamp­shire re­lied on 1,122 po­lice sup­port vol­un­teers in July 2017 – up from just 172 in Jan­uary 2014.

Thames Val­ley had 611 in 2017 – up from 536 in 2014, while Devon and Corn­wall’s 599 un­paid staff make up 25 per cent of the work­force.

The true fig­ure is likely to be even higher as Uni­son only sent Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quests to 31 out of the 43 po­lice forces in Eng­land and Wales and did not in­clude the Met.

Uni­son gen­eral sec­re­tary Dave Pren­tis said: “The in­creas­ing reliance on vol­un­teers threat­ens to put the po­lice and the pub­lic at risk.”

The union’s Cross­ing the Line re­port says vol­un­teers are tak­ing on a widen­ing ar­ray of roles in­clud­ing re­search, in­tel­li­gence, fi­nance, sci­en­tific ser­vices and clean­ing.

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