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Police Commissioner Candidate’s Special Constables Pledge

Published on: 17 Mar, 2016
Updated on: 25 Mar, 2016

The Liberal Democrat candidate for Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Paul Kennedy, has set himself a target of increasing the number of special constables in Surrey to 500 by 2020 as part of his campaign to bring back community policing.

Paul Kenndy, the Lib Dem candidate in the election on May 5 for Surrey's Police and Crime Commissioner.

Paul Kenndy, the Lib Dem candidate in the election on May 5 for Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

In a Lib Dem statement he said: “One of the most striking police cuts in Surrey we haven’t heard about over the past four years of ‘zero tolerance policing’ has been the 63% reduction in the number of special constables from 345 in 2012 to just 130 this year. If elected I’m determined to reverse that to bring back real community policing in our county.

“It’s common sense that police officers who are rooted in local communities, who know the concerns of local residents and speak to them regularly will be far more effective at tackling crime. There are few better examples of this than special constables who live and work as civilians in their communities but also volunteer as police officers with full police powers for at least 16 hours a month.”

He added that his proposal if elected will mean 500 fully trained volunteer officers providing at least 8,000 extra hours of local policing every single month.

Mr Kennedy also said: “They’ll be able to bring their experience of their communities with them to Surrey Police and put it to good use in working alongside full-time police officers and with their local communities to cut crime.

“I’m convinced that this target is both achievable and necessary. Sussex Police have massively increased their number of special constables since 2012 and there’s no reason we can’t do the same.”

The Lib Dem press release states that Paul Kennedy is a former barrister, accountant and actuary, living in Bookham, with a degree in science and mathematics from Cambridge University and a postgraduate qualification in law from City University.

It adds that he has more than 30 years professional experience working in both private and public sectors. His alternative plan for Surrey Police can be found at

The Guildford Dragon NEWS welcomes comments from other candidates who are standing in the forthcoming election for Surrey’s Police and Crime Commisioner taking place on May 5.

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Responses to Police Commissioner Candidate’s Special Constables Pledge

  1. Mary Bedforth Reply

    March 18, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    The current post holder has too much to say.

    Surrey PCC in row with Theresa May as he demands apology

    If only he could find the killers of the al Hilli family. He was all over the media at the time.

    • Martin Elliott Reply

      March 19, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      At least this candidate has raised something other than the headline. The current commissioner, when asked about manning, will only say that he is the only PCC nationally to increase the number of officers. Good, even if it is only an increase of four, as in the first two years of office the numbers dropped dramatically, but he won’t discuss that.

      Neither will he discuss departmental numbers. Total numbers is all he’ll return with now. So no, he won’t discuss Special Constables or PCSOs.

      Nor will he discuss decreased manning of Road Policing Units (RPU) so, it has been said, they can only cope with two incidents on the main network at a time.

      Kevin Hurley has been quoted in saying he doesn’t want to get the post again, makes you wonder why he is a candidate.

  2. Name witheld Reply

    March 18, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    I am a recently retired police constable, having served a total of 32 years with a branch of the Armed Forces Police, the Metropolitan Police and the last 14 years of my service with Surrey Police, so I feel quite qualified to comment on this proposal from my personal experience.

    Some special constables are dedicated, keen and very capable, putting in many more than the minimum hours duty that they are required to do, but sadly they are in a minority.

    Often, for various reasons, specials put in a bare minimum of hours and as a result, never achieve anything like the degree of competency required in policing today. I and my full time colleagues, regularly had to follow on behind and clear up the mess left by less than competent specials. How on earth can someone ever become fully competent and experienced in any job, working the equivalent of two days a month?

    There was also the fact that in anything but the most basic of cases, any jobs begun by specials have to be passed over to a regular officer to deal with, for the case to have any chance of a satisfactory disposal at Court. That meant that the regular officer was effectively off the street, dealing with the special’s cases.

    As for Mr Kennedy’s comments about specials living, working and policing in their own communities, sadly that type of mythical “Dixon of Dock Green” policing is long gone, if indeed it ever existed.

    Most officers nowadays, both regulars and specials, do not police the immediate area that they live in, because it is a sad fact that police officers, their families, homes and cars, are very likely to be subject to abuse and vandalism from their “customers” and therefore most police officers do their best to keep their occupation quiet in their own neighbourhood.

    I also believe that aside from the few dedicated and competent specials, who stay with the service for many years, the turnover of specials is disproportionately high and the inherent costs of training and kitting out these short term specials is not cost effective.

    The reduction in numbers quoted by Mr Kennedy seems to bear this out, even allowing for the fact that some of the specials may well have gone on to become regular officers.

    In short, a massive increase in specials is not the way forward. What the public of Surrey needs and deserve is a significant boost in the number of regular, full time, fully trained and competent police men and women, out on the street, with suitable back office support.

    I personally would start with a significant reduction in the numbers of senior officers There always seems to be a disproportionate number of Superintendents and above for such a small force as Surrey. Also, do we really need Five officers at Chief Officer / Assistant Chief Officer Rank, for a force of less than 2000 sworn officers? The money saved would be better spent on some more Constables.

  3. Jim Allen Reply

    March 18, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    With great respect to the nameless one, I wonder who will be listened to when the chips are down?

  4. David Roberts Reply

    March 20, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    Most Surrey crime is white-collar crime – serious, complex and completely invisible to ordinary residents.

    My vote goes to any candidate that has a convincing policy against financial fraud, political corruption, money laundering and property scams.

    To hell with all this irrelevant bobby-on-the-beat populism!

  5. George Potter Reply

    March 22, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    In reply to Name Witheld, even if everything they say is true, I don’t see any reason why having more Special Constables would not be a good thing.

    Surely more Specials would at least mean that some of the burden for more minor issues are taken off regular officers, allowing them to focus on other things?

    I’d certainly much rather have a special constable doing a once weekly patrol in my neighbourhood than no patrol at all, for instance.

    But the argument made which I find most astounding is the idea that Specials are a bad idea because cases they start have to be taken over by full time officers.

    Is the author seriously arguing that it would be better if those cases were never started at all so as to save full time officers work? If so, then what’s the point of the police force in the first place if taking on cases is a bad thing which must be minimised?

  6. Paul Kennedy Reply

    March 23, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    I am grateful for these comments. I agree that a flatter management structure might help, and more full-time officers would be great, but there is still room for more specials.

    The Police and crime Commissioner (PCC) is a civilian role responsible to the people of Surrey for setting overall strategic priorities and overseeing the Chief Constable, who is the professional actually responsible for policing. So it is important to have a PCC who will let the Chief Constable get on with their job, defend their independence from the ruling Conservatives, and not keep trying to second-guess their operational decisions.

    However, most of my criminal law experience was in fraud, and I subsequently worked for the financial services regulator which has financial crime responsibilities, so I do know something about this topic. White collar crime is a national problem with largely national priorities, and we need to be able to work closely with our partners including the National Crime Agency – whose Director General is of course the former Chief Constable of Surrey the one our current PCC now says he wanted to sack.

    As for community policing, I’ve heard Neighbourhood Watch coordinators across the county complaining “the police don’t talk to us any more”. I’ve just been speaking to residents on an estate which is being terrorised by dangerous dogs, catapults and air pistols, with visits from drug dealers. They say the police have done nothing, they can’t get through on the phone and they’ve had to wait weeks for an appointment. Too often in Surrey, “zero tolerance policing” seems to mean “zero policing”. More community policing in this neighbourhood would certainly help.

    Paul Kennedy is the Lib Dem candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner

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