Creating volunteer roles

One great strength of volunteers is their flexibility to meet diverse needs within a force and community. Creativity and innovation in role development should be encouraged to ensure volunteers bring added value to the force.

Volunteer roles

When developing appropriate roles, it should be remembered that police support volunteers are not there to replace paid employees. Examples of established roles include:

  • Front-counter assistance (Providing a triage system in busy central stations/opening police offices/community points/one-stop shops in rural areas, residential areas, towns, etc)
  • Providing administrative support to officers and staff, including filing, photocopying, typing, inputting data onto crime systems etc
  • Assisting with crime prevention and community safety initiatives
  • Recording and storing lost and found property
  • Providing specialist skills - e.g. language, computer and IT skills
  • Helping with PR and media work, including sending out press releases, taking photographs etc
  • Supporting Watch Schemes and liaising with specific sections of the community - e.g. pubs, shops and businesses
  • Website design
  • Gardening - providing a welcoming and attractive environment
  • Assisting with Special Constabulary and Volunteer Police Cadet schemes
  • Supporting criminal justice units by improving service delivery to victims and witnesses
  • Specialist roles (Forensic accountants - accountants volunteering on complex fraud cases, analysing information and acting as advisers/management consultants - advising senior management teams on business management and best practice)

Volunteer role development

Suitable roles should be identified before recruitment takes place. You will need some understanding of why individuals volunteer, their levels of commitment and lifestyles.

Volunteers offer their spare time but have other commitments that they need to work round. It is therefore important that roles should be diverse in terms of skills, location, time etc. Short-term projects and tasks can be advantageous where individuals are unable, or do not wish to commit for long periods of time.

i. Effective roles

Provide volunteers with a role description which details the purpose, tasks and, where appropriate, skills or experience that may be required. This will ensure that:

  • The 'right' volunteer is matched to the 'right' volunteering opportunity
  • The volunteer is provided with sufficient information with which to make a decision about accepting or rejecting the role
  • Employees have a good understanding of what the volunteers will do, the boundaries in which they are working and their contribution to the team.
  • Union and staff association representatives should be consulted with regard to appropriate volunteer roles to ensure concerns over job substitution are avoided.

ii. Relevant Roles

roles should directly contribute to core policing activities and have clearly defined outcomes. They should reflect priorities both within the police service and local community, adding meaning and purpose. It is important that volunteers understand their place in the bigger picture, and how their contribution benefits the force and local community. 

iii. Training

The training requirements of the role should be carefully considered to ensure appropriate training can be provided. Volunteers should not be asked to perform a task that requires training that the force cannot provide either through cost or availability.

iv. Supervision

Volunteers need to receive supervision and support to ensure they are effective in their role. They will require different levels of support from a suitably appointed person. It is recommended that this supervisor is a paid employee rather than a volunteer so there is greater accountability.

Useful documents

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

Role Profile Creation Flowchart
 Front Counter (Triage) volunteer - generic role profile
 Front Counter (Unstaffed) - generic role profile
 Safer Neighbourhoods admin volunteer - generic role profile
 Forensic unit volunteer - generic role profile
 Crime management unit admin volunteer - generic role profile
 Victim Focus Desk admin volunteer  - generic role profile
 Creating volunteer roles

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