Volunteer police plans in West Yorkshire “may be too ambitious”

Nick Smart, Chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation
Nick Smart, Chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation
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PLANS by West Yorkshire Police to recruit 1,000 new special constables in the next two years may be too ambitious because of the time and cost involved, it has been claimed.

The force wants to triple its numbers of trained volunteers as it battles to cope with dramatic cuts to its budget. Specials volunteer for a minimum of four hours a week alongside their jobs and have the same powers as regular officers once they finish training.

Announcing the plans earlier this year, Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said the recruits would be “vital to effective policing in West Yorkshire”.

Nick Smart, chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said the proposals were a “massive ask” and members “remain to be convinced that it is feasible”.

He said: “Who is going to do the training? Who is going to look after them? They have to be monitored and managed at a time when everyone is being asked to do more.

“If you have one or two specials on teams, we have the capability to guide, support and manage them.

“If they are only doing six hours a week, that isn’t much time. There are some fantastic specials out there who do a great job, but bringing in 1,000 over two years is ambitious.”

West Yorkshire Police says the plans for the extra volunteers were “well advanced” and “very much in line with recruitment drives planned by other police forces”.

Assistant Chief Constable Craig Guildford said: “Work has been underway to make sure the recruitment, kitting out and training of new volunteers in West Yorkshire is entirely achievable.

“It must be stressed that new volunteers and special constables will not be used to replace regular police officers.”

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