Managing Volunteers

Management is crucial to ensuring that volunteers are both effective and retained. This section should be referred to in conjunction with the "Volunteer Administration" section.

Supervision of volunteers

Supervision is vital for volunteer integration and retention, and ensures volunteers feel valued and part of the team. To be effective it should provide guidance, support, feedback and an opportunity for open discussion. It can be either formal or informal and should be dependent on the individual volunteer and the role they are performing.

Supervision is usually conducted on a one-to-one basis so that sensitive issues can be discussed if necessary. It is recommended that supervision is carried out by a paid member of staff who has some responsibility for the management of volunteers in the team.

Supporting volunteers

To aid communication between the force and volunteers, it may be helpful to consider the creation of volunteer focus groups. Focus groups allow individuals to meet regularly and discuss the programme, give feedback and comment, raise relevant issues and offer support. This can aid development of the programme and enables the identification of problems.

In addition to group support, it is important to consider what support individuals may require and how this may vary with time. When arranging meetings or training, remember volunteers may be in full-time employment and unable to attend during working hours. 


Police support volunteers are representatives of the police and, as such, conduct of the highest standard is expected. All volunteers should be required to comply with the policies and procedures of the force and are responsible for maintaining confidentiality. It should be emphasised that activities undertaken in their private lives must not affect the integrity of the force or compromise the programme.  

Please also see the recently published Code of Ethics, which also appy to PSVs 

Particular reference should be made to diversity issues and the promotion of an inclusive police service. Volunteers need to understand that the service is seeking to eliminate all forms of harassment and unfair bias and that discrimination will not be tolerated.

These issues should be covered during induction to ensure volunteers are fully aware of their responsibilities and the outcomes should their conduct fall below the expected standard.

Grievance and disciplinary processes

At present, Police support volunteers are not covered by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). However, those who manage or work with volunteers are covered so it is possible that the IPCC could investigate the managers/co-workers in respect of any misconduct.

In order to ensure they are dealt with appropriately, it is necessary to establish a grievance and disciplinary process. These procedures should not copy those for paid employees, but reflect the nature of the volunteering relationship with regular reviews.

Procedures that need to be considered include:

  • Complaints by volunteers
  • Complaints about volunteers from members of the public or staff
  • Issues relating to poor reliability, inappropriate attitudes relating to diversity issues, misconduct, failure to meet required standards or poor performance.

It should be made clear to police support volunteers trade union representation will not be made available to them.

Useful Documents

These documents are supplied as examples of good practice by participating forces.

 Volunteering England
 Example Guide to Line Managing Volunteers
 Sample 'Volunteer Manager' Risk Assessment


The College of Policing uses cookies to collect and analyse information about the users of this website. We use this information to enhance the content and other services available on the site. By continuing to use our site, you are agreeing for us to set a small number of cookies. You can manage your preferences for Cookies at any time, for more information please see our Cookies Policy.