The government is to amend regulations to allow police authorities to sumit schemes agreed with their chief constables for the payment of special constables, government spokesman Lord Bassam told peers.
He said schemes would have to be approved by the homes secretary. A number of trial schemes would establish to what extent payments affected recruitment and retention of specials, and on the number of hours they could offer their force.
Lord Bradshaw said the Special Constabulary was around 20,000 when Labour came to power and was now 11,500. By the time the government moved to bring in a full payment scheme, the constabulary would have disappeared altogther.
He asked the minister to target police forces near London, for whom retention was a serious problem.
Lord Bassam said he recognised the problem. The government wanted to see the new approach adopted as soon as possible. It wanted to evaluate pilot schemes - such as that based on proposals from Cumbria Police.
Hansard 5 Dec 2002: Column 1281 - 1284