Special praise for Scotland’s volunteer police officers
Police Scotland has thanked the volunteers serving as special constables during the coronavirus crisis.
Police appealed for extra support from special constables and their employers and have benefited from thousands of volunteering hours as a result.
A quarter of all special constables in Scotland immediately offered to increase their commitment, with more than 40 employers granting staff leave to perform these extra duties.
The past three weeks have seen some 140 special constables take almost 900 shifts, totalling more than 7,500 hours of unpaid work. Several volunteers also offered to move out of their homes to commit full-time to this role, and other special constables, who had not volunteered recently have requested re-training so they can be deployed.
Falkirk’s Alex Miller was released from his full time job at the National Trust for Scotland to perform policing duties full-time instead.
He said: “Without hesitation, the trust gave me its wholehearted support and encouragement to deploy.”
Stevie Neilson is a harbour master and port security officer employed by Argyll and Bute Ccouncil, which is supporting him to pledge as much time as possible to the police. Stevie has been a special constable for 26 years.
Borders microbiologist Ali Cameron has increased his volunteering hours while also using his scientific skills to advise and support police officers on health and safety.
He said: “It has been fantastic to see how the local community has mobilised to support our NHS colleagues over the past couple of weeks. The public have been enormously supportive of our work and understanding of why now, more than ever, it is important to stay home and stay safe.”
Assistant Chief Constable John Hawkins said: “We have been humbled by the response of our Special Constables. Their commitment to their roles during this unprecedented time is staggering and I cannot thank them enough for their dedication to the service. Our thanks also go to the employers who have allowed their employees to dedicate their time to supporting Police Scotland in our efforts to help save lives and protect the NHS.
“Due to health reasons we have asked some Special Constables not to deploy at this time, which I appreciate might be disappointing, however, health and safety must come first.
“Training is being provided to those who have requested it as soon as possible, and we will do everything we can to support those who are giving up their precious time.
“I must also stress that we absolutely understand that all our volunteers might not be able to deploy for the foreseeable future due to care or medical reasons – we appreciate how crucial it is that everyone takes care of themselves and their loved ones at this challenging time.”
ACC Hawkins added: “Throughout Police Scotland’s history, Special Constables have always been considered a vital and valued resource. However, during this extraordinary time, the significance of their role is greater than ever.”
Special Constables have all the powers of regular police officers. Last month Police Scotland wrote to its volunteers and their employers asking for extra support in the coming weeks.
Individual volunteers are also being featured on the Police Scotland Volunteers Facebook page.