The UK’s biggest employers have been urged to release employees for special officer duties as the Metropolitan Police prepares to ramp up its use of volunteers.
One of the Met’s main priorities for the new financial year is recruiting 2,000 specials to more than double its number of volunteer officers. The number of special officers at the London force- who have all the powers of a regular police officer but do not get paid – has already soared from 1,200 to 1,800 in the past 12 months.
“We are confident we will get the 2,000 officers, but we need the [support of] big employers,” said temporary director of recruitment Majella Myers. “We have to tap into employers’ corporate social responsibility agendas,” she added.
The Met faces a very different challenge recruiting volunteers than it does attracting employees.
“We have to look for people [who are] into the volunteer mindset and giving something back [to the community],” said Myers.
Specials generally train one day a week at the weekend for 17 weeks, and then go on patrols in their own time. However, they have the power of arrest even when off duty, and some employers give them regular time off work to serve with the police.
Many specials reported for duty, with their employer’s permission, after the 7 July bombings in 2005.
Linda Sammon, head of officer recruitment at the Met, said allowing staff to train as specials was a good return on investment. “Specials improve their skills in speaking to people, dealing with situations, and staying calm in a crisis,” she said.