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Specials to claim Federation membership on expenses

Forces will be funding Fed membership for Specials if a deal hammered out by Chiefs gets cleared.

Specials who opt to join the Police Federation will be able to claim their membership back on expenses, if proposals are adopted by Police and Crime Commissioners.

The 9,500 volunteer officers working across England and Wales are set to be given the right to join the Fed under legislation in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which will become law early next year.

Pressure has been building for a year to agree a deal so that volunteers can sign up from March 2022 to get protection for an increasingly complex job.

PCCs will now come under pressure to sign off the deal for their volunteers or face being named and shamed by force Fed reps. 

Specials have already been federated into the British Transport Police.

Fed Chair John Apter had already warned his organisation would be unable to absorb the costs because it must keep membership fees low due to wage freezes.

Volunteers do not have the same contracted hours but carry a warrant card and increasingly carry out the same work as full-time roles such as assessing intelligence, driving and responding to incidents.

This means they are also open to the same scrutiny over conduct and have the same legal risks plus physical risk of injury.

And that leaves forces footing the bill for their protection under the current arrangements.

Mr Apter told the Special Constables’ National Gathering at the weekend that Specials were entitled to a  “Rolls Royce” service.

“I am very confident the law will be changed to make this important decision a reality. Why is this so important to me and other colleagues in the Federation? It’s because you carry a warrant card. You carry the same risks as I do when I’m out on shift,” he told the event.

“The role of a Special Constable thankfully has evolved and changed so much over the last 30 years. You’re out on response now. Big risks there. I know there’s a big drive for you to be carrying Taser but we’ve got to make sure you have that support in place.”

The Fed says it is “confident” that Specials will get membership with  exactly the same terms as regular officers. And once cleared, issues around working conditions will be raised with employers.

Specials, who currently have their own association, welcomed the update.

Chief Officer of the Special Constabulary in Durham said: “Effective representation is something that has been close to my heart for my entire career as a special, and as a Chief Officer it’s something I’ve fought for, for all.”

How it is likely work:

The cost of Fed membership would be reclaimable through Force expenses systems.

But the amount they will recompensed will be entirely dependent on individual PCCs and Chief Constables.

The outline deal follows months of talks between the Home Office, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

An early sticking point was whether the Fed could levy full time membership for part time volunteers.

The crux issue will be the impact on Police precepts and whether the Home Office includes any cash in its settlement – which is possible under convention that new responsibilities have to be funded by central government.

A final decision will come after the Chancellor’s spending statement due at the end of next month.

An NPCC spokeswoman said: "Legislation is currently progressing through parliament and discussions are ongoing on the implications for police forces and the Special Constabulary of any change."

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