No more “arbitrary” Special Constable target after Northants Police spent £1.7 million on training volunteers

Northants Police and Crime Commissioner PCC elections, May 6, 2016. Kettering Conference Centre. Winner Stephen Mold, Conservatives.
Northants Police and Crime Commissioner PCC elections, May 6, 2016. Kettering Conference Centre. Winner Stephen Mold, Conservatives.

The new Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner said he wanted to focus on the “quality not quantity” of Special Constables after it was revealed £1.7 million was spent on training volunteers last year.

At his first Police and Crime Panel meeting, Stephen Mold said he would not be making an “arbitrary” target to recruit a certain amount of Special Constables but wanted to increase the number of policing hours they contributed.

A budget report discussed at the meeting revealed that £1.746 million was spent on Specials and Volunteers in 2015/16.

Adam Simmonds, the previous Police and Crime Commissioner has set a target of recruiting 900 Specials, but the total at the end of his term was 700.

Mr Mold said he expected the number of Specials to decrease to around 600 during his term as some would not be able to fulfil the increased number of hours expected.

He also revealed mistakes had been made during the rush to recruit Specials as some had not been vetted properly.

Mr Mold said: “One person was put through a training course but was not fully vetted so when he had completed it he was not able to become a Special.

“These sort of things are the reason for some of the changes we have made.

“We want to focus on quality not quantity.”

Panel member Daventry District Councillor Richard Auger said he believed the commissioner needed to keep an eye on the cost of training and recruiting Specials to ensure the public got value for money.

He said: “This money could have been spent on the full-time police officers and recruiting more of those.”

Commissioner Mold also revealed that he was intending to reduce the cost of his office to one per cent of the force’s £120 million annual budget.

He said: “It is currently over the one per cent total. It will not come down immediately this year but within two years it will be below this total.”