Wanted: volunteers to clean police cars
CASH-STRAPPED Staffordshire Police are recruiting volunteers – to help them deliver leaflets and clean force vehicles.
They are creating the unpaid roles after losing hundreds of police staff and officers through funding cuts.
Top officers today said the Police Support Volunteer (PSV) programme will take the pressure off paid employees.
But union leaders fear the recruitment could lead to the loss of even more staff.
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The volunteers are wanted to:
Clean force vehicles and fully equip them with kit;
Act as translators for police officers and PCSOs out on patrols in ethnic minority communities to break down language barriers;
Deliver crime-fighting leaflets to people's homes.
Each volunteer must be at least 16, be vetted and undergo an induction programme.
The force currently have around 500 vehicles in their fleet.
Staffordshire Police Federation secretary Dean Colley, a police constable of 28 years' experience, said: "Our main concern is this process may begin to multiply.
"We would be very concerned if we get to a situation where this was impacting on the livelihood of paid staff members.
"It's a cultural shift to a different way of doing things.
"At this stage it sounds very positive but we will be keeping a very strong watching brief to see how things develop."
Michael Shepherd, Unison's Staffordshire Police branch secretary, said: "What we will be against is if people are being made redundant, and then they are putting volunteers into those roles, such as administrative roles.
"A paid professional will always do a better job, and that is what the public expects."
Volunteers can sign up for the new roles during a recruitment event at Staffordshire Show on Wednesday and Thursday next week.
The force already have 514 special constables and 13,080 Neighbourhood Watch members.
Staffordshire Police need to save £38 million by 2015.
Staffordshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Julian Blazeby said: "Volunteers bring fresh ideas, raise local concerns and can suggest solutions.
"They bring a wide range of experience and skills to the teams that they support, and add value to the work of trained staff. "Volunteers have a wealth of knowledge and skills that can benefit the wider community.
"This is not about replacing current police officer or staff roles.
"It's about volunteers taking on simple but important tasks that will support officers and staff and allow them to concentrate on doing what they are trained to do."
The PSV programme is coordinated by the National Policing Improvement Agency and the Association of Chief Police Officers.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the force should call 01785 232221 or visit www.staffordshire.police.uk/volunteers.