Essex

Essex Police 'lousy' at keeping special constables

Roger Hirst
Image caption New Essex Police and Crime Commissioner said there was a "tension" between his view of Special Constables and that of some in the constabulary

Essex Police is "lousy" at keeping hold of volunteer special constables, the county's new crime commissioner has claimed.

Conservative Roger Hirst, who became the Essex Police and Crime Commissioner in May, said he wanted to double the number of 'specials' from 300 to 600.

But he said the force needs to rethink how specials were both treated and deployed.

Essex Police said it places high value on the work specials do.

In 2014/2015, 119 people left the special constabulary compared with 83 joiners. But in the most recent year - 2015/2016 - the number of leavers was 96 compared with 114 joiners.

Mr Hirst said more needed to be done to retain higher numbers of special constables.

'Tension'

"We will need to tweak the way we do it, at keeping people," he said. "We have been lousy at keeping people.

"They either end up not feeling engaged or they think it is great fun and become police officers.

"That's going to take something of a change in attitude towards special constables.

"There's a tension there in terms of convincing the wider constabulary to see it this way."

Assistant Chief Constable of Essex Police, Maurice Mason, said: "Special constables devote thousands of hours every year on a voluntary basis to keeping Essex safe. Each is asked to give a minimum of 16 hours service per month to their community but the average per special constable in Essex is 24 hours per month.

"The main reasons given by those leaving remain: changes in main employment, recognition that the demands of the role are significant [thus] leading to resignation and change in family circumstances - rather than dissatisfaction with the role.

"The force places high value on the work specials do and we recently held an awards and recognition ceremony to thanks specials for their commitment to the safety and security of the county."

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