One in five special constables are handing in their warrant cards: a study investigating the decline of the Special Constabulary

Cossey, Paul Graham (2015) One in five special constables are handing in their warrant cards: a study investigating the decline of the Special Constabulary. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    As a voluntary arm of the police service, the Special Constabulary (SC) role is unique with officers contributing their time to tackle crime and support their community. This study identified reasons why people are motivated to join whilst others decide to leave the service. The study uses literature research, combined with surveys of existing Specials, a survey of leavers, and interviews with commanding officers in two police forces. South Yorkshire Police (SYP) were chosen for the study as initial research revealed significantly improved retention of the SC; Thames Valley Police (TVP) was chosen as the author’s own force.

    The study revealed:

    1. The most popular reason for joining was as a ‘stepping stone’ to becoming a regular officer (extrinsically motivated); secondly, many wished to support their community with long term aspirations (intrinsically motivated). Specials intending on joining the regulars were finding it difficult to get a position due to the reduction in vacancies and higher academic requirements to join.

    2. A lack of adequate supervision to ensure Specials are correctly managed and motivated, with inconsistent mentoring programs.

    3. A lack of recognition of the value towards Specials in the work they contribute towards policing. This is reflected in the restricted support and attitude of regular officers.

    4. Many departing officers enjoyed their time within the SC and left primarily because other pressures impacted their ability to commit time to voluntary police work.

    5. SYP uses a simplified management structure, adopt regular communications with Specials and setting of clear expectations to both attract and improve the SC retention.

    Addressing the issues behind the decline of the Specials, the SC Retention Improvement Model has been developed with four major themes:

    Motivation & Rewards – Review recognition and reward systems, and experiment with revised contracts such as increased hours and defined progression to recruitment as regulars.

    Integration – Establish programs that integrate Specials with the regular police service and ensuring Specials are recognised as valued contributors to policing.

    Training & Development – Enhance training programs for the SC to increase their deployment with regular officers and their self-worth. Improve supervisory training for both the regulars and SC management to reinforce the value of the Specials.

    Organisation Structure & Image – Implement a simplified management structure, with consistent policies, including a dedicated paid Chief Officer (incorporated as Police Staff) accountable for implementation. Furthermore, implement a marketing programme that recognises the value of Specials to both policing and to their local communities.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2016 13:03
    Last Modified: 18 Mar 2016 13:03

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