The Lay Observer Scheme

Please note: the lay observer scheme is currently suspended while it is under a review. Once the scheme is up and running again an application form will be made available on this page. 

The Lay Observer Scheme is an opportunity for members of the public to join officers whilst out on patrol and to gain an insight into how the police and partner agencies work to protect communities from threat, risk and harm.

Dorset Police is welcoming more people to take part in the scheme. It is important for the police to understand the communities that they are serving and also for local people to see the kind of incidents police are called to as part of their day-to-day duties.

The scheme has traditionally been used by people who already work closely with the police in their line of work or people who would like a greater understanding of policing before they pursue a career in the service. However, Dorset Police would now like to extend this more widely to other members of the public.

Tell me more

If you are 17 years old or over and have ever wondered what a day in the life of a patrol officer is like, this is your opportunity to experience the problem solving and relationship building work which officers conduct on a daily basis, as well as witnessing response to calls, encounters with the public, and any arrests that are made.

We cannot guarantee what kinds of incidents officers with observers will attend, but you may encounter officers dealing with shop theft, victims and offenders of burglary, vehicle crime, drug warrants and people being stopped and searched.

The Stop and Search procedure may not occur on every occasion when an observer is present, but where it does, it is carried out only in specific circumstances.

The police will not Stop and Search somebody for the benefit of the lay observer. This would likely render the search unlawful and it would be completely against the intention and ethics of the Stop and Search reforms.

In April 2015, Dorset Police signed up to the Home Office's Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme.

The Lay Observer Scheme is open to people who wish to find out more about why and how Stop and Search works. They would also see how this differs to Stop and Account, which is when officers stop someone in a public place and asks them to account for themselves. The individual does not have to answer the officer and can walk away if they choose. The police can also stop a vehicle and ask the driver for their documents, which is different to Stop and Search.

Officers have various ways in which they conduct these kind of activities, which are known as 'street encounters'. Police officers may Stop and Search someone if they have reasonable grounds to believe they may be able to assist with a police matter. If an individual does not cooperate, they may be arrested.

It is important for the public to be able to see that the police conduct their work around street encounters professionally.

We would particularly welcome observer applications from young people and people from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities, as these groups are involved in a proportionately high number of encounters, yet often don't take part in the observer scheme.

The Stop and Search procedure may not occur on every occasion when an observer is present, as it is only carried out in specific circumstances. The police will not Stop and Search somebody for the benefit of the observer, as this would likely make the search unlawful and would be completely against ethics of the Stop and Search reforms.

Feedback will be sought from observers about their time with officers, so that two-way learning can take place.

If you are interested in joining an officer on patrol, please follow the instructions under the 'Get involved' section below.

Observers have to be security vetted, due to the information they may become aware of or what they may see during the observation. This can sometimes take a number of weeks. A member of staff will contact you and inform you of the outcome of the vetting and what happens next.

Scheme participants must also attend a safety briefing prior to going out on patrol. They will have to follow the instructions of the officer they’re accompanying at all times and wear a high visibility observer jacket.

Feedback will be sought from observers about their time with officers, so that two-way learning can take place.

If you would like to join officers on a patrol, please complete the application form displayed on this page and return it to your local police station, addressing it to The Governance Team, Bournemouth Police Station or email it to observer@dorset.pnn.police.uk

Please note: the lay observer scheme is currently suspended while it is under a review. Once the scheme is up and running again an application form will be made available on this page. 

 

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