New ‘special constables’ to provide frontline support

The Queensland Police Service (QPS) will establish a pool of ‘relief’ or ‘substitute’ police officers, similar to what exists in the nursing and teaching industries, to boost frontline support.

There are former officers who have resigned from the QPS and are in fulltime careers, as well as retired police who are past the mandatory age of retirement but would like to return on an ad hoc basis.

Currently, there is no ability to employ a police officer other than on a full-time or part-time basis. Nor is it possible to employ a police officer past the statutory retirement age of 60.

A new category of police officer employed as part of a relief function and with a rank of special constable would remove these barriers.

Having special constables would strengthen the QPS’ policing capability, particularly at times of peak demand, ensuring police officers are on the frontline at key times to meet service delivery requirements.

Commissioner Katarina Carroll said the concept could significantly boost the QPS’ resourcing surge capacity.

“We know there are a lot of healthy and highly trained police officers with years’ of experience who leave the Service for a variety of reasons and would be interested in returning on an ad-hoc basis,” Commissioner Carroll said.

“Opening up opportunities for former police officers could unlock huge benefits for the Service, particularly when it comes to filling temporary resourcing gaps.

“We could see officers return to perform various frontline duties when required such as during natural disasters or major events including the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“Other industries and government agencies manage relief or substitute workforces very well and I believe this concept can be extended to our police.

“Our goal would be to attract healthy and committed former officers who could undergo the necessary assessments and re-training to be sworn in as special constables to carry out a range of policing duties when required.”

Special constables will be used to support the frontline and will be employed when, and as needed, by the QPS.

The proposed amendments to the Police Service Administration Act 1990 would allow the QPS to offer employment opportunities on a casual basis to this untapped pool of experienced officers.

This will be achieved by expanding the concept of ‘special constable’ so that it can facilitate the employment of former police officers on specific terms, enabling these officers to act as a relief police workforce.

The effect of the proposed amendments will be that police officers will still be required to retire at the age of 60, but, if suitable for re-engagement, can be sworn-in as a special constable.

It is acknowledged that a number of special constables are likely to have alternative full-time occupations. In this regard, working for the QPS is expected to be the special constable’s secondary, rather than their primary employment.

There is no intention to alter the way the provision applies to interstate police officers appointed as special constables. The intention is to create an additional class of special constable who is a remunerated employee of the QPS.

Police Minister Mark Ryan said the initiative would be mutually beneficial for both former police officers and the QPS.

“This initiative is a win-win which boosts our police frontline at times when it is needed most,” Minister Ryan said.

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