20 Jan 2016
Home Secretary, Theresa May, has announced that the UK government will expand the role of civilian police volunteers in investigating financial and cybercrime.
The plans follow the Home Office’s police reform consultation last year, which stated that the law could be changed to create a larger community of uniformed volunteers to support the police.
It is expected that police chief constables will be given more power to recruit members of the public and hand over more responsibility to support staff and volunteers.
May stated that the changes will “create a flexible workforce, bring in new skills and free up officers’ time to focus on jobs only they can carry out”.
Police will be specifically seeking individuals with specialist IT and accountancy skills to help during cyber and financial crime investigations. Hampshire and Gloucestershire police have blazed the trail here, having already launched a scheme to attract volunteers with digital skills to support “digital investigations”.
The plans have met criticism from the opposition and unions, with Shadow Home Secretary, Andy Burnham, stating, “the concern is that these volunteers will not be checked or trained in the same way as those who volunteer as special constables”.
Financial and cyber criminals often utilise sophisticated methods, such that technical know-how and skilled management of these cases cannot be underestimated. Clearly the success of such a scheme will rely on ensuring that volunteers’ existing skills are adequate, and providing specialist training where such skills are absent.
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