Police workers in newly badged-up cars to boost police visibility on South Yorkshire streets have complained to bosses they are being flagged down to deal with crimes and incidents.
Civilians untrained to deal with police incidents have told union representatives that people are alerting them to issues they are untrained and ill-equipped to deal with.
And plain-clothed police officers, who need to remain anonymous to deal with vulnerable victims of crime and witnesses, are concerned they are now having to use marked vehicles.
Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright ordered unmarked police vehicles to be badged up with the South Yorkshire Police logo to improve police visibility.
He has asked detectives to start to wear high visibility police jackets when out investigating crimes and has put 66 police officers from back office jobs back into uniforms to try to reduce the impact of frontline cuts.
But South Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank and file bobbies, has accused police chiefs of ’papering over the cracks’.
Federation chairman Neil Bowles said: “We need plain car and plain-clothed police officers for all sorts of reasons – from surveillance to protecting vulnerable victims of crime and witnesses who may not want police cars parked outside their homes so there have been some concerns raised.
“In addition to that we now have people driving round in badged-up police cars who are feeling obliged to stop at incidents because members of the public are pulling them over and expecting them to stop – they feel there would be complaints if they drove by.
“But some of these people are not trained officers and not equipped to deal with such incidents.”
Mr Bowles added: “In the past if they came across an incident that was not life or death they would have radioed it in, but now they feel that they need to pull over.”
He said civilian crime scene investigators are among those driving around in the vehicles.
“The Police and Crime Commissioner’s attempt to improve police visibility is just papering over the cracks to try to hide the fact there are not enough cops,” added Mr Bowles.
Mr Wright said: “I am aware of the concerns that some officers have raised and await the outcome of a more detailed report from the Chief Constable.
“This report will then set out the recommendations for the size and shape of the vehicle fleet moving forward.”
Around 100 previously unmarked police vehicles have now been marked up with police badges.