Reforming the Powers of Police Staff and Volunteers

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2015 Police & Justice Service Group Conference
30 September 2015

Conference notes that the government’s consultation paper on ‘Reforming the Powers of Police Staff and Volunteers’ published on 9 September 2015 contains both opportunities and threats for the police service and police staff.

Key proposals in the consultation paper include:

• Creating a list of ‘core’ police powers – including arrest and stop and search – that would remain exclusive to police officers

• Enabling chief officers to designate all other police officer powers to police staff

• Allowing police support volunteers to be designated with the same powers as police staff

• Abolishing the role of Traffic Warden under the Road Traffic Acts

Conference believes that the proportionate designation of more and greater powers to police staff is an acknowledgment by the government of the increasing professionalism and importance of police staff in the workforce. UNISON has been calling for this approach for many years, particularly in relation to police community support officers, and we welcome the opportunity for our members to indicate which powers they believe would allow them to do their jobs more effectively.

However, Conference believes that the proposal in the consultation paper to allow chief constables to designate police support volunteers with all, or any, of the powers which might in future accrue to police staff, is pushing volunteering into a dangerous place. These proposals if accepted will forever change policing in the UK and threatens the role of police staff within it.

Conference believes that the proposals concerning volunteers are the end result of the government’s austerity agenda for policing in England and Wales. With a further 20 – 40% of police cuts expected in this parliament, the government is clearly looking to expand volunteers into every aspect of police staff work in order to fill in for redundant posts. This will lead to volunteer PCSOs, volunteer SOCOs, volunteer custody and detention officers to name but a few.

Conference calls on the SGE to:

• Oppose the designation of police support volunteers with police staff powers

• Make the case for the proportionate designation of new powers to police staff, following consultation with branches

• Work with the College of Policing, NPCC and APCC to reach agreement on a new concordat on the use of volunteers in policing which enshrines the principle of no job-substitution