Volunteering within the Police: Experiences of Special Constables and Police Support Volunteers

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Abstract

The focus for this study is those who volunteer for Lancashire Constabulary as either Special Constables or Police Support Volunteers (PSVs). The main difference between Specials and PSVs is that PSVs are unwarranted and usually non-uniformed – although some forces have given uniforms to public-facing PSVs to make them appear more professional (Bullock, 2014). Volunteering in policing is an example of social action, of trying to encourage more active participation in society (Putnam, 1995). Volunteers are also a resource to improve police responses to crime and improve community engagement. If used effectively, volunteers can add considerable value to the knowledge and skills available to police managers. Yet volunteers are an under-researched aspect of modern policing (e.g. Millie and Jacobson, 2002; Gravelle and Rogers, 2009; Bullock, 2015b). The mainstreaming of the voluntary sector across public services has resulted in differentiation of provision, but we possess incomplete understanding of its character, potential and impact. Greater understanding of the motivations and experiences of volunteers will have important benefits for police managers and ultimately for the governance of policing. The lack of research poses a range of issues for the police’s understanding of volunteers, and of making the most of volunteers’ contributions. Whilst volunteering has long been a feature of the police service, these issues take on new significance in the context of a contracting state. As noted, the focus for this study is those who volunteer for Lancashire Constabulary as either Special Constables or PSVs. The aims of the study are to investigate: - The factors that inhibit or facilitate the participation of volunteers within the police; - Wide ranging matters related to the recruitment, management and supervision of volunteers within the police; and - Factors which might inhibit or reinforce the operation of and outcomes associated with volunteering within the policing context.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOrmskirk
PublisherEdge Hill University
Commissioning bodyLancashire Constabulary
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016

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