Money

Lloyd’s gives staff time off to volunteer for police


The insurance market Lloyd’s of London has entered an official partnership with the Metropolitan Police as part of a scheme to encourage corporate employees to join the force as special constables.

The move brings to 17 the number of organisations having an employer agreement with Scotland Yard, including British Airways, Tesco, Santander, HSBC, Accenture and Ikea. The scheme involves companies encouraging their staff to volunteer for 16 hours a month, working alongside police officers.

During the 2012 London Olympic Games, the force had about 5,000 special constables, but the numbers have since dwindled to less than 1,900. Senior officers at Scotland Yard are now seeking to bring the figure back up in order to help tackle threats including serious violence and knife crime.

Special constables wear the same uniform, and have the same powers and responsibilities as police officers. They are involved in all aspects of policing in London, from foot patrols to specialist roles in aviation and roads policing, diplomatic protection and public order. Lloyd’s is giving its staff 20 paid days off for initial training plus 10 days a year to serve as a special constable.

John Neal, chief executive of Lloyd’s, said the programme would give his 1,000 employees the opportunity to “gain new and valuable skills used both in the workplace and everyday life — such as resilience, leadership and managing difficult situations — and, at the same time, play a part in keeping London’s streets safe.”

The recruitment drive comes at a time of acute budgetary pressure within London’s police force, which has lost 3,000 police officers, 3,000 police community support officers and 5,000 civilian staff as a result of central government funding cuts since 2010. At the same time, officers are dealing with an increased workload caused by the growth of cyber crime, a rise in reporting of historical sex offences and a sharp rise in the number of fatal stabbings, which have now reached a 70-year high.

Dave Musker, a Met commander, said volunteer officers had been involved in special operations aimed at targeting violent offenders on the streets of London. Officers also confirmed that the number of such operations had increased as a result of the spate of knife attacks in the past year.

The link with companies — known as the Employer Supported Policing Scheme — has been running for more than a decade, but Mr Musker said the government wanted to “breathe new life into it” in order to increase the number of special constables both in London and across the country.

“This is a powerful partnership between, businesses and the Met,” he said. “The scheme benefits employers, their staff and the police service by releasing special constables to volunteer in the communities they serve. This is something which directly contributes to making London safer.”



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