Police Scotland is facing “unprecedented” challenges during the Covid-19 outbreak, with the force now urging bosses to give staff who volunteer as special constables paid leave from their day jobs.
Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham has called on special constables to increase the number of hours they volunteer for if they can.
To help them do that, the force has urged firms to give those staff paid time off during this period.
It comes as the force deals with rising levels of sickness and self-isolation amongst its officers and other staff.
But at the same time, Mr Graham said the police are required to undertake “significant additional duties” in this “critical period”.
Special constables are warranted officers with all the powers of regular police officers who volunteer their services, with this group deployed in local communities to support daily operations and provide resilience at critical times.
Mr Graham said: “This is an extraordinary moment and one that requires a collective response. It is a moment when the ethos of the Special Constabulary – supporting Scottish communities and local policing – has never been more relevant.
“The coronavirus pandemic is presenting an unprecedented and dynamic set of challenges and to support health professionals and maximise public safety, the policing response is crucial.
“The coming weeks and months will be demanding and there will be significant additional duties that we are required to discharge during this critical period. To support our overall response, we would like to include our valued special constables in our resourcing plans.
“We have written to all our volunteers and their employers seeking support to provide additional volunteering hours over the coming 12 weeks, however I should stress there is no requirement being placed on anyone.”