More "Volunteers" for Police Forces

30 October 2012, 14:09 | Updated: 30 October 2012, 14:32

The Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police says forces will have to rely more on special constables and volunteers in the wake of Government budget cuts.

Forces will need to rethink the way they work with communities and whether community policing should be left solely to professional police officers and key staff, Sara Thornton said. 

In the wake of budget cuts which mean the "low-hanging fruit'' has already been picked, forces could look to a greater use of special constables and volunteers beyond 2015, she added. 

The vice president of the Association of Chief Police Officers added that "real transformations'' are needed, including to the "selection and training of officers'' and the way in which forces engage with communities. 

"We've trebled the numbers of specials in Thames Valley in the last five years, we've got a significant volunteer programme, we're doing a lot of work around neighbourhood justice panels, work with the charity called Dfuse,'' she said.

"A whole range of just thinking about why is the community just left to professional police officers and key staff, and what sort of different relationship we can have with the community.

"I think that's a key area which is well known to be underdeveloped.'' Ms Thornton added that a "transformation mindset'' is needed, saying: "I hate the term low-hanging fruit but it has certainly been picked. While there is a place for the private sector, I would argue not to involve them in core policing'', she added.