Call for a substantial increase in Special Constables.
David Bowles is to formally launch his campaign to be Lincolnshire’s Police Commissioner in Louth today. He said ‘Where better to launch a campaign for better policing than in the UK’s favourite Market Town? We have a lot to be proud and praise, here in Lincolnshire. I particularly want to praise those who support the police for little or no reward.’
David Bowles, the only truly Independent candidate for Lincolnshire’s Police Commissioner, will today call for a substantial increase in the number of Special Constables from 200 to over 600. Special Constables have the same powers of arrest as full time Police Officers but work on a part time, voluntary basis.
David said ‘We all know the economic outlook is gloomy and Lincolnshire police remain one of the worst funded in England and Wales. I’ll fight for a better share of funding but notwithstanding that we need to live in the real world and recognise that even with much better funding, given the rural nature of Lincolnshire, it will always be difficult to respond to concerns about visible policing. Those who are promising to solve the problems of visible policing within the reducing manpower are being less than honest. The Lincolnshire police already have Special Constables, volunteers and Neighbourhood Watch who make a very valuable contribution’.
He praised Lincolnshire police for rebuilding the Special Constable force back up to just over 200 officers but said ‘ I think we can do more and I want us to continue to be more and more creative.
‘I’d like us to consider building up a different type of Special Constable, a form of Community Special Constable with an initial target of a further 400 Specials. Special Constables have the power of arrest but at the moment are often recruited and used to support the full-time force in areas like dealing with the night-time economy around the pubs and bars in our bigger towns. Dealing with these issues has the effect of pulling policing away from other areas in our towns. That’s bad enough in itself but even worse, as a result some of our smaller towns and villages feel they have been abandoned. The elderly feel particularly so.
We have neighbourhood policing in Lincolnshire but some of our neighbourhoods are 300 square miles. If we can appoint more Special Constables, well-known within their villages or their parts of our towns and well respected, and use them in their own local communities, they can add to a visible presence. They can help deal with and ‘nip in the bud’ low-level antisocial behaviour, work with Neighbourhood Watch, Farm Watch and Business Watch, lead on crime prevention and perhaps in rural areas be a vital link with parish councils. This all contributes to policing as a whole being more visible and allows full time officers and PCSO’s to be released for other duties.
These officers would not be being appointed expecting to deal mainly with, for example, an unruly football crowd but specifically to build or rebuild a local presence and be the eyes and ears for the full time officers and PCSO’s in their community as part of the bigger existing police neighbourhoods. The force has already had some successful recruits of this sort.
Even if Special Constables had a predominantly local community role they, as any other officer, would still need to be available at times of difficulty for other policing purposes.’
David continued ‘I want to make it absolutely clear this should not be seen as a substitute for a properly funded full-time police force which I will campaign hard for. However Lincolnshire is a huge county and this may be one way we can build better community involvement with our police. It is something we should be considering regardless of the cuts.’
David continued ‘I also think it vital that in spite of the reductions in spending the police give good support to Neighbourhood Watch. The county has around 70,000 members and they do a good job. I will support them and encourage their growth. As a Commissioner I would regard them as vital sets of eyes and ears giving me feedback on community concerns.’
David finished ‘But these are just ideas. I want to know what you think not just about this but policing generally. I need to prepare a Policing Plan for 2013 and beyond. Please contact me through my web site and let me have your views’.
You can make your views known on this and other issues about policing in this county at David’s web site: www.davidbowles.org.uk/your-views.
David will be in the centre of Louth from 10.30am on Tuesday 4th September.
To discuss this news release further or to arrange an interview, David can be contacted via [email protected] or on 07774-224-246.
Notes to editors
Special Constables, who are uniformed, have the full power of arrest, unlike PCSO’s.
Special Constables do have to take a medical test. There is no age limit.
Lincolnshire police currently has 200 Special Constables and whilst they are recruited quite flexibly they tend at the moment to be used mainly at weekends and for the night-time economy in Lincolnshire’s major towns.
In 1939 there were 4,000 Special Constables in Lincolnshire.
Special Constables are not paid but there are training, travel, uniform and other costs.
People may not want to be a Special Constable if they feel that they are mainly going to police local football matches or bars in our major towns, but they may have the right attitude skills and local public profile to be a very good Special Constable working mainly in their own local community.
The number of special constables in England and Wales has increased. A Home Office statistical bulletin on police service strength shows that, as of 31 March 2012, there were 20,343 special constables in Home Office forces in England and Wales. This represents a 10.4 percent increase on the previous year’s figures, and is a clear indication of the value of special constables in supporting their regular colleagues in policing.