A pioneering scheme to have a “visible police uniform presence” in every community is being launched in Kirton.
Last week, the first Volunteer Police Community Support Officers (VPCSO) in the country were welcomed into “the Lincolnshire Police family” by police and crime commissioner Alan Hardwick.
From February, volunteers will train alongside PCSO mentors helping the force police an area of more than 2,000 square miles.
Exactly what powers a new VPCSO will have is not yet known, but during a ceremony at police headquarters in Nettleham, Mr Hardwick said it was not policing on the cheap.
He said: “These people will enhance the policing of the county and are not replacing anyone. They are in addition to the warranted officers and special constables that we have.”
Jackie Rowe, co-ordinator of the scheme, said: “The aim is to have VPCSOs with exactly the same powers as PCSOs, but this is not yet possible as the Chief Constable can only delegate powers to employed PCSOs.
“But the DCC is working at national level to push for a change in the law to enable VPCSOs to have delegated powers or, the alternative and probably more likely, to allow us as a force to pilot the delegation of powers to VPCSOs.
“We are very optimistic that this will become a reality.”
It is hoped there will be a couple of hundred VPCSOs recruited within the next two years. The VPCSO assigned to Kirton will be the only one in the first intake in south Lincolnshire.
The estimated the cost of training and kitting out a VPCSO will be around £1,200 and police bosses say that investment will be repaid within ten months with the hours they will patrol the streets.
Mr Hardwick, who aims to have a visible uniform presence in every community, said: “The scheme is being watched very closely by government and other police forces.
“I have absolutely no doubt that when it is a success other forces will decide to recruit their own VPCSOs.
“I am immensely proud. I am proud that Lincolnshire is a force that has always punched above its weight and that we are going to be the first force to have VPCSOs.”