Volunteer police officers will soon be eligible for payment if they give up their time to help keep Gloucestershire safe throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl was informed that members of the Special Constabulary could be paid ‘for their hard work, dedication and pivotal work alongside police forces across the country’ in a Skype call with Crime and Policing Minister Kit Malthouse today (26 March).
The PCC welcomed the opportunity to pay members of Gloucestershire’s Special Constabulary, but asked for more clarity on the amount they should receive; who would fund their payments; and that their rate would be consistent across the country.
The Minister promised he would get answers to all those questions from the Home Office within 24 hours.
Mr. Surl said, “I am hugely grateful to our Special Constabulary, especially those who have been giving up their time to support front line officers at this difficult time.
“I am pleased that the Crime and Policing Minister agrees that members of the Special Constabulary should be financially recognised for their contribution to keeping Gloucestershire safe, and I look forward to more clarity from Mr Malthouse on how their payments will be funded.
“Until we have clear guidance on this, I have made it clear to the Chief Constable that he has access to a £1 million fund from policing reserves in order to help manage operations during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
It is also hoped that members of the Special Constabulary who are furloughed and receiving pay from their permanent jobs will also be able to provide full-time support to the Special Constabulary.
The news followed another big announcement from the Home Office today (26 March 2020) outlining new powers for police officers for dealing with members of the public who break coronavirus lockdown rules.
Mr Surl said, “Although my job is to represent the public in holding the Chief Constable to account and ensuring these new powers are used proportionately, I am concerned by the number of enquiries to both my office and the Constabulary from people wanting to know how they can get round the very clear restrictions set by Government.
“My plea to the public is not to ask the police for loopholes that will allow you take an extra walk or drive in the car, but try and change the way you are living in order to comply with the guidelines. It is for the good of us all and, hopefully, will only be temporary.
“These are testing times for all of us, but with limited resources I know the Gloucestershire Constabulary is working flat-out to ensure the county is kept safe. So, I urge the public to adhere to the rules, stay home and help the police to protect us and the NHS.”
The new powers granted by the Home Office state that after a person is initially asked to return home, refusal could lead to a £60 fine. This fine drops to £30 if paid within 14 days. If this fails, police also have further powers to arrest members of the public if they still refuse to comply.