Giving police volunteers rights to use weapons is a step too far, says UNISON

Controversial new proposals to arm volunteer police community support officers (PCSOs) with CS gas and PAVA spray – due to be discussed later today (Monday) in Parliament – are a step too far, says UNISON.

The Policing and Crime Bill, which has its Second Reading today, proposes arming volunteers with chemical agents. UNISON says this radical new step is yet another example of ministers trying to achieve policing on the cheap.

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “We all want to feel safe in these troubled times, but allowing police volunteers to use CS gas and PAVA spray when they will only have had limited training makes no sense at all.

“The government is trying to get policing on the cheap, when instead it should be funding police forces properly. This is no way to fill the gaps created by the loss of the 5,000 paid PCSOs who have been made redundant since 2010 because of government cuts.

“This could be the thin edge of the wedge. Ministers seem set on more and more policing being undertaken by volunteers, who have powers way beyond their training.

“While volunteers have a role to play, this is not the kind of law enforcement anyone wants to see.”

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