Volunteers’ Week: Five years of making a difference in their community
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Our ground-breaking Community Special Constable scheme is celebrating five years and we’ve marked the occasion in the town where it all began.
Witham Town Council was the first in Essex to get on board with the idea of funding special constables dedicated to policing their local area.
Five years on, the community specials continue to be important resource in Witham, responding directly to community concerns, holding regular beat surgeries and working alongside the community policing team and our partners in targeted operations.
Since the scheme launched in 2018, the town has supported as many as five community special constables at any one time. At the moment, there are three:
Special Chief Inspector Lorne Campbell
Special Sergeant Simon Jesse
Special Constable Claire Eaketts
Lorne and Simon were in at the start – several previous Witham community Specials have been promoted or joined Essex Police as regular officers.
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Mariner congratulated the three current community Specials and the town council at a ceremony to mark the success of the scheme – fittingly, on 2 June 2023 during Volunteers’ Week.
“The support Witham Town Council has provided the scheme is absolutely fantastic and helps us to achieve what we want which is to have as many Specials as possible to carry out amazing work in their communities. “Our Witham Community Specials have contributed an incredible 4,322 hours of policing in the past five years. They and the town council are the flagbearers for our scheme. “Because they are dedicated to policing the town, they know it well and people get to know them. So they are often given information which aids the community policing team and CID in targeting crime and anti-social behaviour occurring there.” Assistant Chief Constable Andy Mariner
Special Chief Inspector Lorne Campbell says the launch of the Community Special Constables scheme inspired him to join the Special Constabulary.
“I’d absolutely recommend becoming a Special. It gave me the opportunity to serve my local town and make a difference. “And we’ve definitely had an impact during the five years the scheme has been running. “People tell me they feel safer in their community and they find it easier to talk to us, tell us things and ask for advice because they see us on the streets. Sometimes it’s information they wouldn’t know how to tell the police about but they see us out on patrol and at community events and they feel happy to approach us with it. “Sometimes we can deal with it immediately or we can feed it back to other teams for them to deal with and take action. We will support teams with executing warrants where we can.” Special Chief Inspector Lorne Campbell
“Residents were calling for a more visible police presence, we gave it to them and the result has been an outstanding success. “We hope the number of community special constables will increase and that we may be able to find a way to get a more visible daytime policing presence, as well. “Our Community Specials work extremely hard to keep our town as free from crime, nuisance behaviour and drugs as possible. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.” Witham Mayor Cllr Susan Ager
“When the opportunity came along to have community special constables, we were delighted to get involved. “We’ve had several over the years but have maintained the numbers. Either they are trained so well or they enjoy the job so much that some have joined Essex Police as regular officers, hence the turnover. “But we’d like to build on what we do have for further community benefit. Our Specials provide useful local intelligence which we can build on and that’s very important. I’m looking forward with confidence to the next five years!” Witham Town Council Leader Cllr Phil Barlow
“I cannot praise highly enough the contribution to community safety the Witham Community Specials have made in the town. “They provide valuable reassurance and engagement to local residents and businesses and, in return, they are able to dedicate their voluntary service to the area that matters most to them – their community. “Our volunteer Specials are a vital part of our policing family, giving thousands of hours to helping their regular colleagues to investigate crime, support victims and catch criminals across Essex.” Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex
Could you help to keep your community safe?
We are always looking for more volunteers to join the Special Constabulary, whether you want to become a community special constable, dedicated to your local town or parish, or police a little further afield.