Thousands of civilians are set to be recruited as uniformed police officers
under radical proposals announced by the Home Secretary last week.
David Blunkett outlined the plan to employ community support officers with the
power to tackle low-level crimes as part of a 10-point plan to dramatically
raise standards in the police force.
It includes powers to deal with under-performing forces through the
Standards Unit and tackling the huge sickness absence problem through a new
occupational health strategy.
Police forces will also be allowed to recruit overseas staff for the first
Ian Todd, chief superintendent for personnel at Northumbria Police, backed
the proposals but said the range of powers the new community support officers
would have, must be clarified.
"We have to deal with these issues and work out what the reward will
be, where the powers end, who will train and be responsible for them. There’s
lots of work to be done before it can be implemented," he said.
The Northumbria force has already trained 30 community wardens who have a
visible uniformed presence and are paid by the local council.
Todd also backed initiatives on pay and sickness reduction explaining his
force has already implemented similar schemes.
"At Northumbria we have doctors, welfare officers and nurses on our
staff. After we implemented the schemes the average fell from 12 to eight days
at a saving of £2.8m."
The Association of Chief Police Officers also supports the measures but has
called for more resources to ensure forces are able to implement them.
The Police Federation has vowed to fight the reforms.
By Ross Wigham