The process of government seeking as much as possible for no payment is certainly gathering speed. Many functions overseen by the Home Office, Justice Ministry and Department of Health have been farmed out to “agencies” operating at arm`s length from their governors and the results to an observer on the proverbial south west London double decker are not too encouraging. G4S covered itself in the smelly brown stuff rather than glory at the Olympics. The U.K. Border Agency chief was sacked a couple of years ago. The agencies and various bodies charged with supervision of hospitals failed miserably with the unfortunate result that hundreds of real prematurely dead bodies might be said to be the living proof of their incompetence and all in the name of bargain hunting. A perfect example of this mismanaged attitude is that of the provision of policing on the cheap.
Police Community Support Officers have been with us for a decade. They were considered a cheap way of having increased numbers of uniforms on the streets. They require minimal academic qualifications and are paid as little as £16,000 p/a. The term including monkeys and peanuts would perhaps be a little unfair but is not too far from the truth. In the search for unpaid labour the Metropolitan Police and some others instituted a directive a couple of years ago that all prospective candidates who wished to don the proper uniform had to offer a year or more of unpaid service as part time special constables. I am unsure whether that proviso still applies. Certainly the employment of PCSOs is undergoing in depth consideration. It is being suggested that a study be made of their usefulness. That does not seem to be a bad idea considering the various options some police forces are thinking of. Recruitment of more volunteer special constables is underway in Dorset. To me it is inconceivable that “specials” with their very limited working hours can be as effective as full time trained constables. Perhaps I`m wrong but it appears that in this instance Dorset Constabulary wants cheap labour. With the general concept of trying to turn lead into gold thought is even being given to providing a cadre of unpaid volunteer PCSOs.
Where will this all end? Is this the Big Society trumpeted by D. Cameron? Meantime a newly “elected” Police and Crime Commissioner in that self same county of Dorset has given a 10% salary increase to his newly appointed Chief Constable. Carry on the fight chaps; I`m right behind leading you forward.