Police staff will be pleased with new powers, less so that volunteer colleagues will get the same

Extra powers for police staff that will help them be more effective in their jobs in the fight against crime are good news for local communities and bad news for criminals, says UNISON today (Wednesday).

But while welcoming the Home Office announcement about new powers for police staff, UNISON has voiced concern over government plans to give similar powers to police volunteers.

Commenting on the announcement, UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Police staff will be pleased that they are to get new responsibilities and powers that will stand them in better stead when it comes to fighting crime in our towns and cities.

“This is something that police staff have long wished for and means that in future they will have a range of powers at their disposal that will ensure they can get the job done more quickly and more effectively than before.

“But it’s a huge mistake to do the same for volunteers. Volunteers cannot be deployed to tackle serious crime in the middle of the night, and they are free to absent themselves from the workplace at any time, because they have no contract of employment. This makes volunteers totally unsuitable for police forces that need to know they can turn out staff in an emergency.

“Having cut police budgets relentlessly, the government is clearly pinning its hopes on a volunteer army to plug the huge gap left by the loss of so many dedicated and skilled police staff. Ministers are making a big mistake.”

Note to editors:
The Home Secretary has today announced changes to the powers and roles of police staff and volunteers.
The number of police staff jobs lost since 2010 is 20,000.

UNISON media contacts:
Liz Chinchen T: 0207 121 5463 M: 07778 158175 E: l.chinchen@unison.co.uk
Fatima Ayad T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07508 080383 E: f.ayad@unison.co.uk
Alan Weaver T: 0207 121 5555 M: 07939 143310 E: a.weaver@unison.co.uk