Economic Advantage Of Volunteering In The Law Enforcement

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Voluntary work if often considered hectic and sometimes thankless. It becomes even more daunting when the practice involves intensive fields such as law enforcement. Yet, the need to make an impact on the community keeps volunteers streaming into the law enforcement sector across the world. Volunteer law enforcers pride themselves in working to make their communities safer, free of crime, and better. As the volunteers find a sense of self-fulfillment, the law enforcement agencies and, by extension, their countries reap substantial economic benefits. The general economic advantage of volunteering in law enforcement includes a reduction in costs associated with crime prevention and law enforcement. The following research discusses the economic benefit of volunteering in law enforcement in countries such as Britain, the U.S.A., Singapore, and the UAE.

Overview of Crime Rates

Understanding the positive economic impacts of volunteering in law enforcement necessitates a prior review of the associated costs and budgets. The major economic advantage of volunteering in the law enforcement sector is its ability to reduce crime rates. According to Gravelle and Rogers (2009), law enforcement, in the recent past, has been facing challenges of increasing finances amidst a constantly growing demand for services, higher expenditures, and budget-cuts. In Britain, policing consumes billions of pounds annually, with rough estimates quoting 60 billion pounds (Gravelle & Rogers, 2009). This observation is against a budget of just 10 billion pounds in 2007 (Gravelle & Rogers, 2009). Therefore, in the year 2007, the British Home Office had a deficit of over 50 billion pounds, which accounts for more than 80%. Under these circumstances, it is impossible to ensure the effectiveness of law enforcement because apart from technological resources, there will be no enough human resources to maintain law and order. In addition to the deficit, the average crime cost per person was estimated at 275 pounds, which totals to a national figure of 15 billion pounds every year (Gravelle & Rogers, 2009). These figures are based on typical or average crime rates. However, Elkin (2019) notes a 2% increase in the rate of crime between 1981 and 2018. As these rates increase, so do the costs. In the U.S.A., the overall rate of crime has significantly fallen between 1993 and 2018. Gramlich (2019) estimates that the rate of violent crimes has seen a 51% decrease, while property crimes have dropped by 54% over the same period. Overall crime is still in Singapore, with over 33,126 cases recorded in 2018, marking a slight increase from 32,668 the previous year (Ministry of Home Affairs - Singapore Police Force, 2019). The UAE has just 0.7 murders per 100,000 people and is considered among the regions with the lowest rate of crimes in the world (Salama, 2018).


The above figures illustrate the need for effective strategies to bridge the gap between rising crime rates and dwindling operational costs. Voluntary policing is currently one of the ways to achieve that balance, with significant economic advantages. The best demonstration of the benefits of volunteering in law enforcement is the United Arab Emirates, where the practice has significantly brought down crime rates and costs of law enforcement. According to NationMaster (n.d), crime levels in the UAE are 13.93% compared to 55.84% for the United States. The UAE has an elaborate law enforcement volunteering program dubbed 'We Are All Police,' attracting hundreds of civilians to help the 34,000 officers (1 law enforcement officer represents 58 people) (Salama, 2018). The collaboration between police officers and volunteers, in particular, has reduced traffic deaths to just 5 people in every 100,000, which has dramatically reduced costs on the health facilities associated with such accidents (Salama, 2018). By extension, the fact that very few people die or get incapacitated from accidents and crime means that a more significant percentage remains capable of contributing to the economy and development of the nation.


The growing demand for law enforcement has also created a great need for volunteers in Britain and the U.S.A. According to Malega and Garner (2018), over 36% of law enforcement agencies in the U.S.A. used sworn volunteers between 1999 and 2013. About 7% of all these volunteer officers had nationwide arrest authority. The volunteers presumably serve for between 8 and 40 hours each month, but different local agencies have different working hours (Dobrin & Wolf, 2016). Dobrin and Wolf (2016), quoting the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, state that the average annual pay for police officers and detectives on a full-time basis is 58,630 dollars, but only 5,000 dollars is spent on recruiting, arming, and maintaining volunteer law enforcers. The huge disparity means that the U.S.A. can use this strategy to improve the effectiveness of its law enforcement while saving the taxpayers huge sums of money. The money saved could be used in other areas of the economy, including the health and education sectors. In 2011, volunteer law enforcers saved the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office over 578,230 dollars, while Virginia City saved more than 5.3 million dollars in 2013 from such programs. These savings include the efforts of sworn and unsworn volunteers as well as civilian community policing collaborators.


In the UK, volunteers take up a wide range of roles, but the most common is sensitization and creation of awareness against crimes and criminal behavior through initiatives such as Partnerships and Communities Talking (PACT) (Gravelle & Rogers, 2009). The result of extensive awareness is the fear of crime and overall crime reduction. From an economic point of view, the fear of crime will mean that fewer resources are required for law enforcement. For instance, the need for more police officers will reduce and fees that may have been used in the recruitment process be channeled to enhancing crime management technologies, thus increasing the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies and further reducing criminal activities and even contributing to more savings. Even more, money is saved from the cheap acquisition and sustenance of a voluntary workforce. An estimated hourly pay for police in the Lancashire, UK, was about 6.29 pounds, and volunteers contributed to over 3,626 hours each month, resulting in 273,690 pounds of savings on staff wages (Gravelle & Rogers, 2009). These figures have been based on the minimum wage, meaning that the actual saving figures are even higher.


In Singapore, the Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) is the primary law enforcement voluntary scheme. It was established in the year 1946 with a view to improving the efficiency of the national police service (Singapore Police Force, n.d.). Today, volunteers are posted to all the 7 major divisions and perform duties, including, but not limited to, manning roadblocks and conducting police checks, coastal patrol, and even VIP escort (Singapore Police Force, n.d). All volunteers are expected to serve for at least 16 hours each month, but a majority of them spend more hours. The progress of this program in Singapore, however, has been slow given the fact that it is almost impossible to find official statistics of contribution from voluntary law enforcers in the country. However, just like in the cases of the U.S.A., UAE, as well as the UK, the fact that volunteers serve sufficient hours with minimal sustenance fees is enough testimony to the economic advantage of their presence.


On the overall, the need to make an impact in the community keeps volunteers streaming into the law enforcement sector across the world. Volunteering in law enforcement is not only beneficial to the individual volunteers. As the volunteers find a sense of self-fulfillment, the law enforcement agencies and, by extension, their countries reap substantial economic benefits. As can be seen in the above statistics, the UK, U.S.A, UAE, and Singapore have reaped massive economic benefits from the participation of volunteer officers. Huge sums of money have been saved with reduced rates of crime. The funds can be channeled to other parts of the economy, including the health and education sectors.

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GradShark (2023). Economic Advantage of Volunteering in the Law Enforcement. GradShark.

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