Volunteer cop numbers fall in Northumbria Police area
The number of special constables working alongside Northumbria Police officers has fallen by more than a third over the past decade, new figures reveal.
The Police Federation say increases in their day-job workloads have made it impossible for many to volunteer and the Association of Special Constabulary Officers (OSCO) has described a fall in numbers nationally as a "huge loss" to policing.
Home Office data shows Northumbria Police had 150 special constables in March this year – up from 125 on year before but 36% down on the number in 2011, when there were 235.
The officers, known as "specials", hold the same powers as police constables and work a minimum of 16 hours a month as volunteers.
The fall in the number of specials in Northumbria Police comes alongside a 17% decrease in full-time police officers, despite a Government-backed recruitment campaign for 20,000 more officers nationally by 2023.
Nationally, the number of special officers has reduced by more than half over the past decade - from 18,421 to 9,174 this year.
Police Federation chairman John Apter said: “More and more has been expected of special constables and these extra pressures have caused some to leave the service, as they cannot juggle their day jobs with what is expected of them.”
ASCO 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."
The Home Office said it was working closely with police forces to help attract, recruit and retain more special constables.