Drop in volunteer police force a 'huge loss' as Hampshire special constables face extra pressure
THE ranks of volunteer police officers in Hampshire have shrunk by around two thirds in 10 years.
Special constables give up a minimum of 16 hours a month as warranted officers - with full police powers - alongside their day job.
In the first month of lockdown last year 129 SCs in Hampshire put in 547 shifts - equating to some 4,380 hours.
But now new figures show there are just 184 SCs left in the county, down from 283 in 2020. This is a further drop from 496 volunteer officers in 2011.
The Police Federation for England and Wales said a recent focus on recruiting more paid police officers, including some former specials, and an increase in workload for the volunteer officers were behind the demise in numbers.
Hampshire police officer John Apter - chairman of the Police Federation for England and Wales - said specials have seen extra pressure piled on.
Mr Apter, who started service as a special constable, said: ‘More and more has been expected of special constables.
‘These extra pressures have caused some to leave the service, as they cannot juggle their day jobs with what is expected of them.
‘We need their support, and we need more of them.’
In 2020-21, 28 special constables became full-time officers in Hampshire.
As reported, a major recruitment drive is seeking to swell the ranks of officers by 20,000 across the country.
Latest Home Office figures show Hampshire has 3,186 officers as of June, up by 399 from April last year. The force has been allocated cash for 309 new officers so far as part of the national uplift.
As reported, crime commissioner Donna Jones - elected in May - has said she will recruit 600 officers by 2023.
The Association of Special Constabulary Officers described a significant fall in numbers across the two nations as a ‘huge loss’ to policing.
Chairman David Pedrick-Friend said: ‘The reduction in numbers represent a huge loss to policing and we must all work together to urgently reverse this trend.’