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Title: Doing more for less in changing times : exploring the motivations, contributions, and experiences of police support volunteers
Author: Pepper, Melissa
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2019
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Police Support Volunteers (PSVs) are citizens who give their time freely to perform tasks that complement the duties of police officers and staff. Emerging over the last 25 years or so, PSVs feature in every police service in England and Wales, carrying out a range of tasks including administration, front counter duties, and community engagement activities. However, the evidence base around PSVs is distinctly underdeveloped with little in the way of empirical studies. This PhD study seeks to expand the currently narrow field of research through the first focused study of PSVs in the Metropolitan Police Service. The study considers the motivations of PSVs and influence these have on their experiences. It goes on to explore PSVs’ contributions, the importance they attach to ‘being useful’, the experiences they have alongside officers and staff, and the extent to which they feel recognised and valued for their time. Finally, the study turns to the organisation itself – the infrastructure in place to support, manage, develop, and involve PSVs – features that are recognised as central to volunteer experiences. Maximising opportunities for the police service and community to capitalise on the benefits of a police workforce that includes PSVs – engagement, communication, innovation, and a source of labour, skills, and expertise – requires a more developed understanding of the issues explored in this study. Indeed, failing to build such an evidence base to guide the involvement of volunteers, at best, risks oversight of the value that PSVs bring – at worst, the reputation of both volunteers and the police organisation. The study concludes with a call to rethink the way volunteers are involved in policing, reassign tasks, and reimagine the PSV within a landscape where the police service is faced with changing priorities and demands to do ‘more for less’.
Supervisor: Bullock, Karen ; McCarthy, Daniel Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral