Volunteers ‘carrying police’
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.