Students in Leeds are carrying out important analytical work for cops – as cuts continue to put the squeeze on police resources.
In a groundbreaking project criminology students from Leeds Metropolitan University will provide research into the way that burglaries and complaints of anti-social behaviour are dealt with.
Their feedback could help shape the way police respond to incidents.
It comes as West Yorkshire Police is trying to slash £104million – or 22 per cent – of its budget by 2015.
PC Mark Bottomley, from North West Leeds police, said: “We have an opportunity to use these people – as we are short of resources – to give us a fresh view on key areas.”
He added: “They will be working under police supervision in the student community while also providing an invaluable boost to neighbourhood policing team resources.”
About 50 students, wearing high-visibility clothing, joined police for the first time last night.
Working predominantly in the student areas of Headingley, Hyde Park and Woodhouse, they will speak to crime victims to assess the standard of service they receive from police.
They will also be attempting to come up with solutions to problems with anti-social behaviour. Their proposals will be incorporated into action plans.
Senior lecturer Dr Sarah Kingston added: “This is a fantastic opportunity for students to take some responsibility for dealing with prominent policing issues in their community while at the same time providing academic analysis support to the West Yorkshire Police.”
But Jon Christopher, vice chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, expressed concern that the project could pave the way for unpaid volunteers to take on policing roles.
“If it assists the police and helps communities, that’s a good thing. But my concern would be that if it continues and is extended, it could very well be taking roles away from frontline police,” he said.
“How far does the reliance on volunteers go?”