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You need ESP to know about employer supported policing

We asked in the December 2018 print issue of Professional Security magazine why the community safety accreditation scheme had not taken off. Here we ask why a related idea, employer supported policing (ESP), has not either.

Both CSAS and ESP are a way of getting more uniformed policing figures into public space; and both offer something for everyone. CSAS badges guard forces and allows them extra powers, short of arrest. Under ESP, an employer agrees to pay for someone to do shifts as a special constable. The police get an extra body, the employer is doing good for the community, and the volunteer employee doing the policing gets the satisfaction and new skills and can better balance their life. Home Office-funded research into ESP came out in an ‘impact report’, on the official National Business Crime Centre website.

The idea came from the Met Police force, appealing to retail, banks and the art world. It passed to national police bodies in 2009. As of March, some 280 bodies are registered as doing ESP; some 1376 special constables were working through the scheme. Any public-private partnership or ‘citizens in policing’ looks less impressive when you add that more than half of the specials work as police staff. Many of the others work for councils; and 93 of the 280 are regarded as ‘dormant’; in other words, they are only signed up on paper. Although the report was too polite to say so, ESP has failed to break into the big private sector.

The 36-page report gives some cases of good work, and employers (such as in local government, and Rolls Royce) coming half way. Tina Shelton, ESP co-ordinator in the north west gave a presentation to the National Supermarket and Grocery Loss Prevention Forum, at Sainsbury’s distribution centre in Coventry; and has worked with Bernie Auguste, the long-time BT man who’s director security and resilience at Openreach.

As the report asks at the end, why have ESP just about specials – why not volunteer work with cadets, or in cyber or one-off projects? If everyone’s resources are limited, but goodwill is there to aid police, what’s wanted is national co-ordination.

More in the July 2019 print issue of Professional Security. Picture by Mark Rowe; Rolls Royce, Derby.

About ESP

A further sign of how ESP is not well known is that the report gives no contact details or website. Cumbria Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery is the National Police Chiefs Council lead on ESP. National lead for ‘citizens in policing’ is North Yorkshire Chief Constable Lisa Winward, who began as a special in 1993. Visit for a section on ESP; but again, no email or other contact to ask more of …

National Volunteers’ Week 2019 runs from June 1 to 7, including National Specials’ Weekend on May 31 to June 2.


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