Essex: Celebrating the contribution our volunteers make to policing our communities
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We celebrate our volunteers’ valuable contribution to making Essex a safer place to live, work and visit every day but National Volunteers Week gives us the opportunity to tell the wider world about their amazing work.
This week, as every week, they will be helping us to break down barriers in our communities, engaging with hard to reach groups and preventing and solving crimes.
We enjoy the support of more than 1,800 volunteers, from Specials to Volunteer Police Cadets (VPCs) and their leaders, from Active Citizens and Police Support Volunteers to Neighbourhood Watch, from Essex Search and Rescue to Street Pastors, as well as Independent Custody Visitors, Restorative Justice Facilitators and Dog Welfare Visitors … the list goes on …
Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan says: “We are so fortunate to have hundreds of amazing people volunteering in a wide variety of roles across our force.
“We have the second largest Special Constabulary in the country, who, during lockdown between March and June last year volunteered 54,000 operational hours, providing visible policing and reassurance to our communities during unprecedented times.
“We also have a number of Active Citizens who help our community policing teams and Police Support Volunteers who provide more specialist skills, together with Volunteer Police Cadets and their leaders who serve their local communities, too.
“Whatever their role, the additional skills and experiences our volunteers bring to Essex Police play a vital part in protecting and serving our county and they do all of this in their spare time.
“The past year or so has been really challenging for everyone but many of our volunteers have continued to donate their spare time to make a difference in their communities, although some, understandably, stepped back or, indeed, volunteered in a different role to help our county’s response to the pandemic.
“And so I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who gives up their spare time to help us to help people, keep you safe and catch criminals. To our Active Citizens, Police Support Volunteers, Special Constables, Volunteer Police Cadets and their leaders, thank you for your time, commitment and passion.
“Thank you for what you do to make Essex a safer place to be.”
Our Citizens In Policing all want to make a difference and they are able do so in a wide variety of roles. We have 126 Police Support Volunteers who bring new skills and experience to 19 specialist areas, including our digital and forensic teams, Witness Care team, Fingerprint Bureau, Casualty Reduction team and, of course, Community Speed Watch.
While our 69 Active Citizens work with our community policing teams, providing people with crime prevention advice and information to make them fraud & scam aware and helping to reduce the fear of crime. Despite the pandemic, much of this work has continued online during the past year.
Young people between 13 and 18 are able to join one of our 13 Volunteer Police Cadet Units and their leaders are all volunteers, too. Although much of their community activity has been suspended since March 2020, our 180 cadets, too, have been meeting online and hope to resume face to face meetings soon.
And, of course, we have 513 Special Constables, many of whom are an integral part of all our local and community policing teams with others volunteering their time in specialist areas. During an average month, our Specials contribute 17,300 hours to protect people and keep them safe from harm.
In the past year, they have volunteered a total of 207,552 hours of their own time to help people, keep you safe and catch criminals. That’s 568 hours every single day. So you can see, their support of our policing response to the pandemic has been fantastic.
Special Constable Nikki Essex is supported by her employer, Chelmsford City Council, through the Employer Supported Policing scheme, to volunteer her time. She says volunteering has benefited both her roles.
“As part of the Safer Chelmsford Partnership, my employer works very closely with Essex Police teams, including the community policing team, in dealing with anti-social behaviour and community safety issues.
“By dealing with members of the public in both my day job and my Special role, I gain valuable insight into trends and intelligence, such as engaging with rough sleepers and focusing on anti-social behaviour hotspots, and develop close working and trusting relationships with both Chelmsford City Council and Essex Police.”
Gill Harwood and her husband Richard volunteer with our Management of Sexual Offenders and Violent Offenders (MOSOVO) team.
Gill says: “I help with all the very time-consuming form filling, acquiring information from police databases and doing address checks on registered sex offenders.
“I enjoy the fact that I am helping to ease the heavy load on our police and giving the MOSOVO team more time to do more important tasks.”
Richard adds: “I volunteered with the Drone Unit for 18 months but then I joined MOSOVO as I saw from my wife’s volunteering that it was important work. My main task is creating spreadsheets and documents. I would recommend being a MOSOVO volunteer as it is a very worthwhile part of policing.”
Nicola Deex has been an Active Citizen since 2018 working with her local community policing team.
She says: “Coffee with Cops is very rewarding, sitting with the public, listening to their problems, concerns, giving out suitable pamphlets which can assist with their enquiries and referring any local issues or concerns they have to the police community support officer working alongside me.
“Street Action days are also good fun, working with police partner agencies and everyone gets involved. My market research years came in handy when I was asked to trial a questionnaire door-to-door and in the street, covering local issues such as fly-tipping, anti-social behaviour, scams, speeding, drugs, gangs and unreasonable noise.”