The plans include measures to give more power to support staff and volunteers and, as a result, forces will be able to identify volunteers who specialise in accountancy or computing for cyber and finance inquiries.
Potential volunteers in England and Wales currently have two options – become a special constable, or ask to become a police support volunteer. The latter role has no powers. But the measures, which will form part of the Policing and Crime Bill, would allow volunteers to be given powers without becoming a special constable, while also creating a core list of powers reserved for police officers.
May said: “Police officers across the country carry out a wide range of duties, keeping the public safe and ensuring justice for the most vulnerable members of society. We value the essential role they play, but they cannot do this on their own. We want to help forces to create a more flexible workforce, bring in new skills and free up officers’ time to focus on the jobs only they can carry out.”
She said people with IT or accountancy skills were in “particular demand”, and could “work alongside police officers to investigate cyber or financial crime, and help officers and staff fight crime more widely”.
Pilot scheme underway
Meanwhile, forces in Hampshire and Gloucestershire have already launched a pilot scheme to attract volunteers with digital skills to support “digital investigations”.
Dave Jones, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for citizens in policing, said: “The new approach to designating police powers will help the police service be more flexible when it comes to attracting and deploying volunteers with valuable skills, especially in situations where the full powers of a constable are not necessary.”
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