HC Deb 08 July 2002 vol 388 c738W
32. Mr. Flook

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the number of special constables. [64778]

Mr. Denham

Special constables are a key element of our police reform agenda. and we are already working, with stakeholders, to increase the recruitment and retention of special constables as part of that process. Indeed, we announced a package of measures on 18 June that are designed to improve the way specials are recruited, managed, deployed and how their welfare is considered within forces.

We are particularly keen to improve liaison with employers and encourage them to support employees who are specials. Specials bring skills and experience back to their workplace which makes them of real value as an employee. Later this year the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Home Secretary will publish a joint discussion paper on fiscal and other changes we can make to promote community service, including service as a special constable. A new headline role has also been published, focusing on intelligence-led patrolling and crime reduction initiatives. And a new national foundation training package for specials was issued last month. Revised Conditions of Service Regulations and new Conduct Regulations are in preparation.

Central to this whole process will be Home Office/Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) good practice guidance covering all aspects of the recruitment, management and deployment of specials, which will be issued by the end of the year. And we will be identifying a number of "Specials champions" to support this work and to take forward initiatives to help reverse the decline in specials numbers. We have set aside £300,000 to support these champions and we are working very closely with ACPO in this area.