A police force is hiring civilian staff on zero-hour contracts to guard crime scene cordons, after sacking all its community support officers (PCSOs).
Norfolk Constabulary is to pay the new “scene guards” £10 an hour for duties including securing cordons, preserving evidence, running a scene log, monitoring people entering and leaving and dealing with public and media enquiries.
A job advert said a background in the police, military or security was desirable, as well as experience of dealing with confidential information, adding that applicants would be vetted.
Guards will be allocated a base station near their home and “deploy to various scenes as required across Norfolk, standing for long periods”, the advert said.
“Post-holders will be required to wear a uniform, be asked to work unsocial hours (evenings, nights and weekends) in all weathers doing a minimum of four duties per year. Full training will be given.”
Norfolk Constabulary said former police officers and soldiers had made up many of the 32 applicants.
A spokesperson for the force said: “One aspect of both a police officer and a PCSO’s role was to attend scene seals. Our review work has shown that this particular duty could be performed without a policing warrant, leaving police officers to deal with greater threats to the community.”
She added that civilian guards would only be deployed at “low-risk” scenes that need a 24/7 police presence while investigations are completed.
Norfolk Constabulary said it hoped to give “free up officer time for more complex enquiries” and reduce overtime.
Clive Lewis, the Labour MP for Norwich South, said the move was “just the latest consequence of the Tory government’s cuts”.
“Already, we have the fewest police officers per person, no PCSOs and just one police station in Norwich that doesn’t even open all week,” he added.
“Now we find that the role once performed by uniformed officers will be outsourced to a casualised civilian workforce on zero-hours contracts, a practice that should be banned rather than imported into the public sector.”