Friday, November 16, 2007

Police hire civilian 'officers'

Police hire civilianers 'offic'

Scotland's first civilian police support posts are being recruited by the Central Scotland Force.
Investigative Assistants will be expected to interview victims of crime and witnesses and gather evidence.

The Scottish Police Federation said there had been no national consultation before recruitment began and raised concerns about skills and experience.

However, a Central Scotland Police spokesman said the civilian workers would help maximise frontline policing.

"We are looking at a number of ways of trying to reduce bureaucracy and non-essential time," he said.

"The staff will work hand in hand with police colleagues to investigate and detect crime."

He said those recruited would be "highly trained, highly skilled civilian staff".

"We won't be throwing random members of public into big investigations.

"The recruits will be trained in Scottish criminal law, handling evidence, investigative techniques and conducting house-to-house inquiries."

A broad experience currently exists within officers and if they aren't using those skills they will be lost

Joe Grant
Scottish Police Federation

However, Joe Grant, secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, said rank and file police officers had reservations about the role civilian workers would have in taking statements which will be used as evidence in court.

He said experience gained over the years helped police officers get the fullest possible information from victims and witnesses.

"Interviewing victims and witnesses is not formulaic - officers have learned investigative skills as they become more experienced," he said.

"A broad experience currently exists within officers and if they aren't using those skills they will be lost."

He said the federation also had reservations that recruitment had begun without a national consultation.

However, Central Scotland Police said it had the full involvement and support of the local Scottish Police Federation branch.

The move comes after the Scottish Government announced an extra £54m to recruit 500 officers and free up others to work on the beat.

The administration has been criticised by opposition parties, who claimed the deal fell short of a manifesto pledge for "1,000 more police".


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