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Concern over huge drop in number of Special Constables

Figures released through a Freedom of Information request have revealed that the number of Special Constables in Scotland has plummeted in recent years.

The figures from Police Scotland show that having had over 1300 Special Constables in 2014, that number has now dropped to just 810 two years later (the latest year for which figures are available).


Special Constables are volunteers who wear the same uniform as regular police officers and have the same powers and responsibilities.


They can be called upon to assist in all areas of police work including patrols, community engagement, specialist operations attending incidents and royal visits.


Police Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley described them as “a vital link between policing and the public”, with the former North East Division Chief Inspector Richard Craig describing their support as “crucial” given the demand on regular police officers.


The Scottish Conservatives have raised concerns over the sudden drop in Police Constables, especially in light of planned cuts in police officer numbers.


Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr said:

“These figures are a huge concern, especially in light of planned cuts in police officer numbers as well.


“Special Constables have been described as crucial by those in Police Scotland, not only helping to carry out key duties but also providing an important link between the police and communities.


“With our police workforce under increasing strain this support is more important than ever, but in just a few years hundreds have left the force.


“This should be raising alarm bells within Police Scotland, and efforts need to be made to discover why so many are leaving.”

Ends

Notes to editors
You can view the FOI request here.

There were 1,228 Special Constables in Scotland in 2013, 1,308 in 2014, 1,008 in 2015 and 810 in 2016 (the latest year for which figures are available).
 
Special Constables wear the same uniform as regular police officers and have the same powers and responsibilities and can be called upon to assist in all areas of police work including patrols, community engagement, specialist operations attending incidents and royal visits.

They can report for duty at any mutually-convenient time on a regular or irregular basis, depending on their work or lifestyle commitments. Some Special Constables work in the evenings or at weekends. Others prefer to be on duty during the day.
(Police Scotland, 16 November 2016, link).
 
Chief Constable Phil Gormley said: 
Members of the Special Constabulary provide a vital link between policing and the public; by volunteering, individuals epitomise public-spiritedness and I know that our Special Constables take great pride in what they do.
“Those who volunteer bring skills and knowledge from their day job and their communities that benefit policing both locally and nationally. I personally value the contribution of Special Constables and I hope that initiatives such as this, encourage others to join us to enhance the delivery of policing.”
(Police Scotland, 15 February 2016, link).
 
North East Division Chief Inspector Richard Craig commented, (NB: now in a different post)
"Special Constables make a valuable contribution to our ongoing policing activities. There is a lot of demand on our regular police officers and having additional support from special constables is crucial. Special Constables are an integral part of policing in the North East.
"Those who volunteer as a Special Constable get a lot of satisfaction from helping make a difference to their community whilst improving their career prospects from the skills they develop whilst working on the beat.
"We currently have over 100 special constables in the North East and some are seconded to specialist departments such as road policing, CID and the alcohol violence reduction unit (AVRU).
(Police Scotland, 16 November 2016, link).

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