Devon and Cornwall Special Constables eligible for £750 coronavirus allowance
- Credit: Office of the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner
Special Constables who agree to complete a set number of shifts are being financially compensated with an allowance by Devon and Cornwall Police as the force strengthens its response to policing the coronavirus pandemic.
Until earlier this year Special Constables – volunteer officers with full police powers – could only apply for expenses incurred while carrying out their duties.
Now Devon and Cornwall Police, backed by its Commissioner Alison Hernandez, has launched an extended pilot project to see the force through the depths of winter. Those who perform eight, eight-hour shifts in December and January will be eligible to apply for the allowance of £750.
Special Constables remain classified as volunteers under the scheme but the Commissioner and Chief Constable favour a change in legislation that would enable police forces to use the Special Constabulary as a paid reserve in the same way the Army Reserve flexes to provide additional resources at times of need.
Devon and Cornwall Police receives a significant spike in calls for service during the summer tourist season when it polices significantly more people than in winter months. The force sees an 11% rise in crime in the months between April and September, a 14% rise in incidents and an 18% increase in missing people*.
The force has a record of pioneering human resources projects, in recent years working with Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service to create the Community Responder role of a firefighter with Special Constable powers; it has also collaborated with other blue light services to create the Tri-Service Safety Officer for remote Cornish communities.
“We have a unique set of challenges in Devon and Cornwall, with a large remote force area which sees its population swell in the summer months,” Commissioner Hernandez said.
“Volunteers are a huge asset to our communities in helping us maintain Devon and Cornwall as one of the safest force areas in the country. This is about recognising some of the barriers to service that the Special Constabulary face and perhaps making it more attractive to those who have considered joining but who may not be in a financial position to be able to give that time for no reward.
“In the South West reserved firefighters and reserve soldiers are ready to step up in a time of need and provide a skilled and flexible workforce. That is what I would like to help create in policing to help us deal with a surge in summer demand.”
Marc Kastner, Chief Officer, Special Constabulary, said: “It is great news that the Police and Crime Commissioner has acknowledged the remarkable work through the development of the enhanced allowance scheme to volunteer police officers who have been supporting their paid police colleagues since the coronavirus outbreak. The Covid-19 cars being operated by Special Constables within Devon and Cornwall will support local communities to stay safe particularly over the winter period.”
Devon and Cornwall Police has 134 Special Constables who are eligible for the initial allowance, which will be paid on a first-come, first-served basis. The first shifts under the scheme were completed on Thursday (December 10).
The project will be one of those funded by £60m paid by the Home Office to police forces to help them meet the cost of policing coronavirus regulations.
The Devon and Cornwall pilot project follows a West Midlands Police scheme which gave a one-off allowance to each Special Constable for every 16 hours they worked over and above their normal shifts to help with the response to Covid-19.
The Midlands force is also planning to deploy paid specials to help police the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022.