Northampton

Northamptonshire Police special constable numbers 'halved'

Special constables in training
Image caption About 26 special constables leave Northamptonshire Police each month, the report suggests

A police force that boasted of having the highest proportion of special constables in the country has seen almost half of them leave the force.

The number of voluntary officers working for Northamptonshire Police has fallen from 722 to 377 since May 2016.

Police and crime commissioner Stephen Mold said the drop-out rate had not changed much recently but recruitment efforts had fallen.

Mr Mold said he preferred to "focus on quality, not quantity".

His predecessor Adam Simmonds had aimed to recruit 900 specials to the force but when Mr Mold took over in May 2016 he pledged instead to maintain a ratio of full-time officers to specials of about two to one.

Northamptonshire Police currently has 1,220 full-time officers.

A report due to be presented to Northamptonshire County Council on Thursday suggests part of the decline is due to the way the statistics were presented.

However, it adds 260 special constables have resigned in the past 10 months.

It listed reasons for leaving including a loss of commitment, or volunteers becoming a full-time officer or a change in work-life balance.

The fall in Northamptonshire's special constables

260

The number of specials who have resigned since May 2016

  • 900 Adam Simmonds' target

  • 722 Number of specials when Adam Simmonds left in May 2016

  • 377 Current number of specials

It noted that some specials had raised concerns about equipment, particularly a lack of lockers or body-worn video equipment.

Mick Stamper, the force's head of operation policing, said many of the specials who had left "didn't meet the standard" required or had not been able to commit to regular duties.

One special constable, who spoke to the BBC on the guarantee of anonymity, said: "There are so many unhappy and unsupported and rarely valued officers.

"The lack of help and support for the special constables is mind-boggling.

"Who would want to stay and volunteer in an organisation that shows no respect or helps their volunteers."

Mr Simmonds' target was part of plans to "make Northamptonshire the safest place in England".

In an article on ConservativeHome in 2014, he said the force had "the highest proportion of Special Constables of any force in England and Wales".

In July 2013, the force employed more than 250 specials and Mr Simmonds pledged to put more "boots on pavements" by increasing their numbers.

Image caption Adam Simmonds aimed to bolster police numbers in Northamptonshire by recruiting increased numbers of special constables

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