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IT and business services supplier CGI is offering its 6,000 UK staff the opportunity to work voluntarily for its police force customers.
This is in response to the Met police’s Employer Supported Policing (ESP), which enables staff at organisations to volunteer for the London force.
Staff can volunteer to work on the front line as special constables or carry out other voluntary work. It is designed to give staff the opportunity to pursue non-work-related volunteering, but brings benefits to the organisations supplying and receiving staff.
Canada’s CGI, which has 6,000 staff in the UK, acquired Anglo-Dutch Logica for £1.7bn in 2012 – and, with it, UK public sector relationships. In the UK, CGI has a significant criminal justice customer base, as it supplies the Crown Prosecution Service, Ministry of Justice, National Crime Agency, Met police and other police forces. It also designed, built and runs the police national database.
The programme to offer staff 11 days of paid leave to volunteer for the Met Police mirrors its work providing volunteers to another major customer, the Ministry of Defence, with around 40 CGI staff volunteering as reservists for the British armed forces
Nick Dale, vice-president at CGI UK, heads up the police sector business at the IT services company. “I wanted to mimic that [Ministry of Defence] scheme and open it up top the Met Police,” he said.
Dale estimated that around 10 staff could be working at the Met by the end of the year, adding that he sees no reason why numbers shouldn’t match those achieved in its army reservists programme.
Although designed to give staff a different experience, there are benefits for the customers of CGI. “What better way to understand your clients than have some staff get out and about and work with police forces,” said Dale. “We are a tech-savvy organisation and we have a lot of people with transferable skills, particularly in cyber crime.”
For example, one of CGI’s staff, as part of a Met Police team, recently solved a cyber challenge. “What tends to happen is they go in to volunteer to do something different, but then they use their skills to support the organisation they are volunteering for,” said Dale. Cyber crime accounts for an increasing proportion of crime in the UK and police forces require new skills sets to fight it.
There are also opportunities for CGI to understand what works in different police forces and then transfer this understanding. “Police forces generally procure regionally or individually. One of the benefits is that they can share what works and volunteers can help with this,” said Dale.
CGI and other IT services companies have to go beyond their contractual agreements with customers when they are faced with major challenges, such as those brought by Covid-19.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, when volunteering is difficult, CGI has established online meetings to help police forces understand how technologies they have been forced to adopt during the lockdown can be taken forward.
“We said we would give people time off to do this, but with Covid-19 this has been difficult. But we have set up sessions for police with our tech teams to talk about the digital disruption that Covid-19 has caused and forced them to do things they have never done before,” said Dale.
This includes taking statements using Zoom or conducting investigations at home. “From a technology perspective, you don’t want to throw all that away, you want to build on it,” said Dale.
Catherine Roper, a commander at the Met Police, said: “The scheme is a powerful partnership between organisations and the Met, and we’re grateful for them in encouraging their staff to consider becoming specials. The work of special constables [and volunteers] are absolutely essential in keeping London safe, especially now in supporting our response to coronavirus.”
Read more about IT professionals volunteering
- British Army launches annual campaign to encourage Britons to volunteer for IT roles in the Reservists.
- Tech workers who find themselves out of work are being asked to volunteer their time to help build digital technology to support coronavirus efforts.
- 100,000 Community and Cyber Police volunteers to help handle the Covid aftermath.