Last week, I was privileged to attend a heart-warming thank-you ceremony for some of our fantastic, long serving Police Support Volunteers (PSVs). The event included a pre-recorded video from the BBC’s DIY SOS presenter Nick Knowles, who praised those attending and left an encouraging message for more members of the public to volunteer.
The Constabulary is currently supported by 281 PSVs working across 37 different roles around the county. These include guides for our force control room, drivers to move police vehicles between stations, CCTV monitoring, advisors to help the Force be more representative and diverse, those who monitor custody and animal welfare schemes, Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators, restorative justice practitioners and a team to humanely dispatch animals severely injured on our rural roads, often in the middle of the night. I am also delighted at the amount of interest in the new role of Volunteer Police Community Support Officer.
Gloucestershire Constabulary currently has the most PSVs of all five forces in our region. And while some might find it amazing how many people want to get involved in police work, I am a huge fan of volunteering, having done so throughout my life. I often feel that helping and serving others is one of the ways to find happiness in life.
That is why I am also passionate about our volunteer Special Constables, who have exactly the same powers as police constables.
Our Specials are exactly that, special. They often put in five hours, or more, a week, usually in the evenings and at weekends, and often bring valuable skills and experience from their day jobs. In fact, when you look at the number of operational hours our Special Constables did last year, five Specials contribute the equivalent number of operational hours as one full time constable.
But the real reason I am a fan of the Special Constabulary, is that it empowers those who take on the role, and empowers communities to take a more active part in keeping their area safe from crime. I very much hope to see more of our future Specials asking to become Parish Constables, permanently based in their own areas, playing an important role in their neighbourhood policing team. I also want to see more Police Support Volunteers, continuing to play their part in helping the Constabulary stay focussed on its main job of fighting crime.
Do you have what it takes?