Derbyshire Constabulary says it will be launching a pilot scheme later this month which will involve volunteers being able to help uniformed police officers in the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales areas, which include the Peak District National Park.
The force denies that this is a cost-cutting exercise, as the roles in question “were not previously filled by employees in paid employment”.
A spokesman said: “As with members of the Special Constabulary, these positions give people the chance to help the force as volunteers.
“Some people want to help but not as a uniformed officer on the front line. This scheme gives that opportunity.”
They added that the scheme will free up special constables to spend more time on the streets, using non-uniformed volunteers to do back-office tasks such as taking messages, arranging meetings and taking minutes.
Other volunteers will be able to help by distributing leaflets, putting up posters, washing cars or doing other manual tasks.
Assistant chief constable at Derbyshire Constabulary, Dee Collins, said: “At the moment we rely on uniformed special constables to support their regular police colleagues.
“We’re hoping that we can now recruit some new volunteers to help with the paperwork and practical tasks.
“This will allow Safer Neighbourhood officers to spend more time on the streets where the public want them to be.”
She added: “We recognise that there are many community-spirited people who have the spare time, skills and dedication to offer their services voluntarily.
“We’re looking for people who have a range of abilities which could include good communication skills, organisational talents, an aptitude for using computer technology or a flair for manual or DIY work.
“Volunteers will be paid expenses but no salary. The roles the volunteers will take up are not jobs which have previously been filled by paid employees.
“We hope that people will support this initiative to improve the service the Derbyshire Constabulary can provide.”
All volunteers must be at least 18 years old and will undergo background checks and training before being taken on.
The move has been welcomed by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, which described the pilot scheme as “innovative”.
Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the campaign group, said: “The public will rightly want to see trained full-time officers and special constables on the beat and not stuck back at the station.
“Taking on volunteers who want assist the force is an innovative way to ensure the police spend more time policing.
“Rural policing poses particular challenges and Derbyshire Police should be congratulated in considering innovative solutions to tackle these.”
Volunteers are already used in various roles in other police forces across the region. In Humberside, volunteers are already used in administrative roles, not to “replace paid employees” but to “complement or support them”.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said: “Police support volunteers in West Yorkshire Police carry out a variety of roles to support police officers and staff and are an essential part of the police family.
“These roles can include making follow-up calls to victims of crime, office work, delivering information to the public, and assisting colleagues at every level to deliver services to residents.”
And Assistant Chief Constable at North Yorkshire Police, Iain Spittal, said: “North Yorkshire Police has volunteers both in warranted special constables, and a number of non-warranted roles.
“The use of non-warranted volunteers enhances the service we give to local communities, performing roles that would not otherwise be undertaken.”