Lincolnshire Police now have more than 500 volunteers, as the force has two more years to reach the 1,000 volunteers target set by the Police and Crime Commissioner.
In the past year, 233 volunteers have been recruited, including Special Constables, Volunteer Police Cadets, Police Support Volunteers, and a first for the UK, Volunteer Police Community Support Officers (VPCSO).
The force now has 505 volunteers who put in more than 68,000 hours in the past year. The plan is to reach 1,000 volunteers over the next two years.
The Police Support Volunteers are non-uniformed adult volunteers who provide additional services in support of front-line policing teams.
Special Constables, as part of the Special Constabulary in Lincolnshire, have their own rank structure aligned to the police force. They take part in all shifts and provide added support at busy times.
Specials can bee seen routinely policing at night time in the city centre, and also help Trading Standards, the Border Agency, enforcing street drinking bans, or respond to illegal raves.
A volunteer role which Lincolnshire Police has uniquely created is the Volunteer Police Community Support Officers (VPCSO), a complement to the Existing PCSOs role in the same way as Special Constables are to regular officers, but a change in the law is required in order to allow the Chief Constable to delegate powers to volunteers.
Keith Smy, Deputy Chief Constable, said: “A lot of what PCSOs actually do in communities doesn’t require them to actually use their powers. But we do know that occasionally they have to.
“A VPCSO would probably be able to do 85% of what our employed PCSOs can do without powers, and actually make a real significant contribution in the way that our employed PCSOs do to community cohesion and reassurance, problem solving, etc.
“I think the concept for us is to continue to develop the VPSCO in the way it works for Lincolnshire Police and continue the debate at a national level.
“There’s unlikely to be any major legislation change ahead of the next general election, so the likelihood that anything significant will change is remote.
“We may be able to negotiate permission to trial and extend the pilot ahead of formal legislation. Somebody has to test the concept.
“We offered up and some of our colleagues in surrounding forces in the East Midlands would very much like to pioneer this on behalf of the country.”
The Deputy Chief Constable is set to meet with the Home Office next week to further discussions on this topic.
“I think the tide is in our favour, it’s just whether or not timing is right for our particular project,” he added.
Currently 11 VPSCOs are patrolling across the county with their mentors, and a further 13 are in training and set to start later in May.
Jackie Rowe, Volunteer Coordinator at Lincolnshire Police, said: “The volunteers provide extra services that ordinarily we wouldn’t be able to provide.
She said reaching the 1,000 target “is not just a numbers game. It’s about providing real quality services.”
Lincolnshire Police stressed that volunteers will not be used to replace paid staff or undermine their pay or conditions of service.
The force estimates that for ever £1 invested in volunteering, it has gained an equivalent monetary value of £4.