Derbyshire police are looking for an army of volunteers to wash their cars, put up posters and complete their paperwork.
But readers and volunteer leaders have hit out at the scheme, claiming organisations are using helpers to do work that should be paid – in order to make savings on their operating costs.
Police want volunteers to carry out administration tasks and are launching the scheme this month.
Volunteers will be asked to take messages, arrange meetings, take minutes and update computer records.
Others will help by distributing leaflets, putting up posters, washing cars or doing other manual tasks which would previously have been paid.
All volunteers must be at least 18, will undergo an interview and be asked to provide references. They will have their backgrounds checked and be expected to maintain high standards of conduct at all times.
Kris Ambler, of Advice Derbyshire said: “Volunteering should never be used as an alternative for paid employment. The route to economic recovery is in creating good, sustainable jobs, and not in boosting numbers of volunteers.
“It is particularly disheartening to hear of public sector organisations seeking to use volunteers to perform roles that either were or should be paid – in the name of making savings.”
David Radford of Chesterfield Volunteer Centre added: “More organisations are looking towards volunteers to fill roles. Volunteers are not free labour or a way to make things run cheaper. That would be an abuse of someone’s time.”
The scheme sparked a debate on the Matlock Mercury Facebook page.
Keir Mucklestone-Barnett said: “People pay taxes so that their money goes to the public sector such as police then they have the cheek of cutting 20 per cent from the police force, sacking front line workers and then asking us to do the jobs they now can’t manage. You can’t make it up.”
Mark Haworth said: “Seriously? So I’m paying tax so the cops can sit with a cuppa and watch me sponge down their cars?”