In 2013 Lincolnshire Police identified an opportunity to broaden police volunteering opportunities through the introduction of Volunteer PCSOs (VPCSOs). The ambition was to provide an additional public-facing role at the heart of local communities.
The vision was for VPCSOs to provide the same service as PCSO colleagues, with the same powers, despite the requirement for a change in the law, and Lincolnshire Police was influential in the introduction of certain provisions of the Policing and Crime Act 2017.
Introducing a new volunteer role was challenging. Wherever possible, processes such as recruitment, uniform and training were aligned with those of PCSOs or Specials. The role has evolved and developed, with the support of officers, staff and the public. Since its introduction, over 270 local people have applied for the role, of whom 103 were successful.
VPCSOs have now contributed over 22,000 hours, with some patrolling independently. The role increases the visibility and accessibility of policing services and VPCSOs assist with a wide range of policing duties including carrying out foot patrols, attending local parish and community meetings, delivering school talks, dealing with anti-social behaviour and attending local events.
There is more work to be done to ensure VPCSOs are an effective resource, but for Lincolnshire they are here to stay.