'Special Constables should get a council tax discount,' writes Grantham councillor
Column by Grantham district and county councillor Ray Wootten
Special Constables are volunteers from all walks of life who work closely with regular police officers to help police their communities.
Volunteers are unpaid apart from reasonable expenses and have the same powers to those of regular police officers and wear the same uniform.
They carry out their duties for a minimum of 16 hours a month, although many do spend considerably more time gaining valuable new skills and experience.
In Bedfordshire Police, where I served, members of the Special Constabulary were a welcome addition in helping to patrol the streets at the weekends or at special events.
The Specials that I knew regularly served unsocial hours and you could always rely on them in a difficult situation.
Many who had completed 200 hours of operational service went on to become regular police officers.
The chief constable of Devon and Cornwall Police favours a change in legislation to enable police forces to use the Special Constabulary as a paid reserve, similar to the Army reserve, which would provide additional resources in a time of need.
Sixty-four Special Constables in West Midlands Police were paid £150 each in recognition of their commitment and long hours worked during the pandemic. This is the first time Specials have been given a payment for their commitment.
In Lincolnshire there are currently 128 Special Constables which include those in training. Twenty-two serve in the South Kesteven area.
During the 12 months to the end of May 2020 the Special Constabulary had contributed over 49,000 hours, which averaged 29 hours a week.
Specials perform a valuable service and Lincolnshire Police would have some gaps if it were not for them.
That is why I support the police and crime commissioner Marc Jones’ proposal that members of the Special Constabulary should receive a council tax discount.
Officers of the Special Constabulary carry out a range of policing activities, for example gathering intelligence, tackling anti-social behaviour and policing major incidents.
Twenty-two of those serve do so through the Home Office ‘employer supported policing scheme’. This scheme benefits employers, their staff and the police service by releasing Special Constables and police support volunteers from work to volunteer in the community they serve.
Last year this scheme contributed to 1,675 hours of duty, compared to 799 the previous year.
There arefive companies in Lincolnshire which support this.
If policing is something you are interested in and are aged between 18 and 57, up to the physical and mental demands of the role along with core competencies and fitness, please email email@example.com or write to Lincolnshire Police HQ, PO Box 999, Lincoln, LN5 7PH.