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NPCC urges business to free up staff who are Specials

Police forces have appealed to employers to consider giving paid leave to staff who are Special Constables.

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, the National Police Chiefs’ Council warned forces are under “increasing strain” and appealed to employers to allow employees who volunteer as Special Constables to be given paid leave to help bolster police numbers.

Being able to call on more than 10,000 Special Constables in the UK would enable forces to plan duty rosters to maintain ‘business-as-usual policing’ while managing rising levels of sickness and self-isolation of officers and staff.

Special Constables already have all the powers of a regular police officer as well as local knowledge, uniforms and equipment to go on the front line. This would reduce the need to cancel rest days or rely on mutual aid.

The option has been part of contingency planning for over a week but this has now been brought a step closer with the public request. Employers could ultimately be compelled if officer numbers are seriously depleated.

The appeal was made primarily to businesses which are already part of the national Employer Supported Policing Scheme (ESP), an agreement where Special Constable employees are provided with additional paid leave to allow them to undertake policing duties.

But even employers who are not currently part of the ESP are being asked to show their support by joining the scheme.

Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Martin Hewitt, said: “We appreciate that this would be placing a further burden on businesses who are already suffering the economic impact of this virus, and we do not make this appeal lightly.

“Businesses who are able to release their staff to undertake these important roles will be supporting the national effort against COVID-19 by helping us to maintain services and keep people safe.

Employers said the government should make the request easier for employers by using its list of key workers as a lever that would enable Specials to step up.

Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said: “Defining which workers are critical to the national effort is a difficult task. Today's list will help business and individuals to plan. But the need for different jobs will change in the weeks ahead, so the list must be kept under constant review with additions where necessary.”

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