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Minority of forces refusing to cover Fed membership for Specials

Some Police and Crime Commissioners are refusing to fund Specials joining the Fed.

With just days to go until volunteers are allowed to join the Federation, wrangling over membership fees is continuing.

The Fed is preparing to open its support services – including legal protection - for when Special Constables are legally allowed to join its 139,000-strong membership.

Legislation in the Police and Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act was passed in April that ended the legal block on membership after a campaign by the Federation.

A pilot group was then set up by the Fed to ensure a smooth transition after the decision which affects more than 11,300 volunteer officers.

But despite the Home Office signalling its support more than a year ago, the row has been rumbling on over where the cash will come from.

The compromise was that the cost would be reimbursed as expenses.

Northamptonshire’s Chief Constable Nick Adderley has told his 280 officers that the force will reimburse them.

They responded it was “100% the right decision”.

North Yorkshire Chief Constable Lisa Winward has also made clear the force’s 99 Specials will be refunded.

The majority of Police and Crime Commissioners have promised to cover the costs, largely because volunteers are increasingly carrying out frontline duties including driving roles.

With that comes significant risk of both injury and complaints from the public that could turn into conduct investigations. The Fed is covering both of these potential risks and warned last year it could not be done cost free.

But volunteers in some other forces will be footing the bill out of their own pockets.

The Fed has confirmed ‘one or two’ are opposed to refunding membership costs.

PFEW spokesperson: “A vast majority of forces have decided to pay for the membership of special constables; and there is still time for the remaining forces to do so.”

Police Oracle understands the Fed is updating a full list of refusers.

The decision means those who don’t join will have to cover their own liabilities – especially if they want to carry Tasers as British Transport Police officers have done since May.

Fed Chair Steve Hartshorn said membership was crucial: “As PFEW members they will have access to PFEW services and the support of trained & accredited federation reps, our legal service providers and other experts who have experience in representing officers. They will also have access to many other benefits provided local and nationally by the PFEW’s network across England and Wales.

“I would encourage the special constables who are interested in joining as members to contact their local federation representatives, local branch board or visit the PFEW website to learn more.”

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