Sussex police force turns to volunteers

The number of volunteers in the Sussex police force looks set to increase to 500, but they are shedding the same amount of paid officers in a bid to save money. Representatives say that part time special constables that are unpaid should never be used to fill gaps that are caused by the numbers of real officers leaving.

There is currently a recruitment drive running as the force wants 190 more specials over the next 2 years, but at the same time it has frozen the recruitment for paid officers and have also introduced enforced retirement for those officers who have had 30 years service. This is part of their bid to shed 500 of their full time officers by 2015.

Even though special officers receive no pay, they still get the same training, are issued with the same equipment and have the same powers at full time officers. The force’s existing 310 specials mainly work in teams of neighbourhood policing and spent a minimum of 4 hours a week working their beat.

Martin Richards is the chief Constable who has launched the recruitment drive and says that while it can be very challenging, many say that becoming a special constable is on of the most rewarding things they have ever done.