YEP Says, April 5: Specials play a vital role in keeping our communities safe

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Volunteer officers deserve respect, not ridicule.

SOME believe the deployment of special constables is policing on the cheap. But while there might be an argument that volunteers are no real substitute for experienced, professional police officers, their value should not be underestimated.

The reality is that policing works better and is more effective when it is done by consent. To that end, it is a tremendous benefit when those who are doing the policing have a strong affinity with local communities and their residents.

That is exactly what specials who come from those communities provide. It means the latest recruitment drive being launched by West Yorkshire Police to find more of them – particularly from ethnic backgrounds – has the potential to tap into local knowledge and strengthen the relationship between the force and the areas it polices.

Specials give up their time for nothing more than expenses. They have the same responsibilities as full-time police officers and run the same risks. As such they don’t deserve ridicule, they deserve our respect.

There will inevitably be concerns that in the face of severe budget cuts, police chiefs are looking to fill their depleted ranks with cheaper alternatives – but that should not mean the standard of policing diminishes.

Specials provide a valuable and visible presence on our streets. Without their dedication, our communities wouldn’t be as safe as they are.

Heavyweight backing for First Aid campaign

AS Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls – like most high-profile figures in politics – tends to divide opinion.

But he’s also a hard-working local MP who was quick to pledge his support to the YEP’s First Aid For All campaign.

Having completed one of the courses last year, he hosted one of them at his offices in Morley yesterday.

It’s great that he’s backed his words with deeds – something you can’t say about every politician.

And, as a father of three young children, he knows only too well the importance of First Aid.

Now let’s hope others follow in his footsteps and sign up to give themselves the chance to save a life.

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