Summer Festivals: Police looking to bolster numbers with volunteers

Police are looking to bolster numbers with volunteers to secure summer festivals.
Police are looking to bolster numbers with volunteers to secure summer festivals.

VOLUNTEER police officers are being recruited for deployments including security detail over the Capital’s summer festivals and beyond.

The city currently has 51 special constables with senior officers convinced more can be found from a population of about 500,000.

Senior officers stress their role is to supplement rather than replace the regular force – while funding cuts are not responsible for the move.

“We look at specials as complementing existing police deployments as opposed to being deployed in place of regular officers,” said Insp Scott Kennedy. “As such reduction in funding is not the driver for this.”

Police Scotland outlined plans in February to cut 400 officers as it faces a £188m funding gap by 2020-21.

The Special Constabulary is a unit of part-time volunteers with similar powers to regular officers.

Applicants go through the national recruitment process with latest recruits signing up this month for a three-week intensive residential course at the force’s Tulliallan HQ.

The selection course includes live scenarios and written tests with recruits constantly assessed before graduating.

Once selected, specials can request their own deployments across much of the force - be it responding to calls or helping police events.

Specials will be out in force over the summer months in high visibility patrols to boost security in the wake of the London and Manchester terror attacks.

Hours are flexible in a bid to fit in with their day jobs.

“Volunteers serve an important role within the community,” said Supt Lesley Clark.

“Our special constables bring valuable skills and experience to the service which really benefit the public.

“There’s also new opportunities for development that are unique to a policing environment and which can also benefit people in their day job.”

Supt Clark urged employers to consider allowing staff to join up, with flexible hours to minimise disruption.

“Working as a special constable provides a fantastic insight into a career in the police,” she added.

Specials get to experience the Capital’s unique events while duties are often tailored to their skills, said Supt Clark.

”I would welcome anyone wishing to explore this fantastic opportunity,” she added.

Single mum Elizabeth McLeod, 48, from Stockbridge, works in security at the Scottish Parliament and signed up as a special five years ago.

“It fulfilled an ambition I had as a teenager but couldn’t because of the height restrictions,” said Elizabeth, 5ft one-and-a-half.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself. I didn’t realise I wanted to make a difference and help people, but I do.

“I’m really proud to wear the uniform and when I get changed out of it, I just hope I’ve made a contribution on that shift.”