New representation and legal support for Special Constables and Police Volunteers

A new association, which seeks to provide representation and legal support to Special Constables and volunteers in policing across the UK, has been launched by a team of Special Constables from across the UK.

The Volunteers in Law Enforcement Association (VLEA), currently in startup, aims to be an inclusive, representative and strategically aware organisation which provides support and legal assistance to all volunteers in law enforcement.

The number of volunteers in law enforcement has seen rapid growth in the last few years with innovative use of volunteers, such as the introduction of National Crime Agency Special Constables, the national Cyber Specials Cyber Volunteers (CSCV) programme and Durham Constabulary’s Police Community Support Volunteers programme, adding to the more traditional roles of Special Constables and community based groups such as Neighbourhood Watch.

Despite the increase in volunteer utilisation and engagement within Policing, there is no representative body that recognises or supports the diverse and specific needs of those who give their time freely to support law enforcement.

The increasing risk exposure and developing roles of volunteers also means increasingly volunteers may find themselves in a position where formal support is required. VLEA will seek to build collaborative relationships with existing staff associations and unions to provide the support that is currently lacking.

Chief Officer Dale Checksfield, head of Durham Special Constabulary, and one of the founding members of VLEA, said: “Volunteers already play a significant part in policing across the UK and recent innovation shows that part to be increasing, both in volume and complexity.

“The time is right for reform in representation and an inclusive organisation which fills the gap which current offerings do not provide in supporting those who give their time freely in our communities is much needed.”

“By working with existing staff associations and federations, VLEA seeks to become the “one-stop

shop” that supports volunteers, provides support and guidance to forces and law enforcement

agencies and supports key stakeholders in developing and implementing policy.”

Whilst only recently being established, VLEA has already attracted support and membership from forces across the UK and has access to a broad range of skills and experience within its existing leadership team and extended network.

With inclusivity a central tenant of the association’s core values it has already begun to forge links within minority groups within policing to ensure its development captures the needs of underrepresented volunteers in policing.

Whilst it will take some months to complete the development work needed to fully open membership, the association recently briefed Home Office officials on its plans and will continue to build presence by seeking early meetings with the Police Federation, Superintendents Association, Unison, the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs Council.

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Trevor Sherwood is the Editor of Police Hour. Trevor studied Crime and Investigation at Teesside Uni and has a background within policing.

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