Celebration of special volunteers who have made a huge difference to Cambridgeshire police

The huge contribution volunteers have made to Cambridgeshire Police is being celebrated this week.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 5:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 6:28 am

As National Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June) begins, Chief Constable Nick Dean and Police and Crime Commissioner Darryl Preston have officially thanked the hundreds of volunteers who support policing every day.

The force benefits from a variety of volunteers, from Specials and police support volunteers, to cadet leaders and victim support workers. And they have not been left untouched by Covid-19, with cadets unable to meet in person and the 13 volunteers who work in the Victim and Witness Hub embracing technology to offer ‘face to face’ emotional and practical support online, as well as Restorative Justice services.

Many Specials, volunteer police officers, were furloughed from their regular jobs, allowing them to take on hundreds more hours of policing.

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Lynda Taylor, Billy Cunningham and Paul Watson

In the 12 months from April last year to March this year, Specials worked more than 6,700 shifts, amounting to more than 46,000 hours of duty. They attended more than 2,800 incidents, raised almost 800 investigations, stopped more than 1,900 vehicles and assisted or made 667 arrests.

One person who has gone the extra mile is Lynda Taylor, who has been the lead chaplain for the force since August 2018.

Lynda was keen to support police officers and staff and felt she had the pastoral training and experience to do so. She said: “I love meeting and talking to officers and staff, and learning about policing and their working environment, which is not always an easy place to be.

“It’s also a privilege to be able to just sit and listen, and sometimes be a supportive ‘friend’ when times are difficult in the workplace or at home. I also learn a lot about the demands and pressures of modern-day policing, which can inform my conversations with the wider community, including local faith organisations and leaders. This can help to build bridges and strengthen neighbourhood partnerships”

As is tradition, they will be celebrated this weekend, national Specials Weekend, when volunteer officers will be out and about showcasing the vital support they provide to regular officers.

Mr Dean said: “There are lots of great reasons to volunteer for the police force and no doubt our volunteers have many different motivations for doing so. It is a unique opportunity to give something back to the community and get involved in some very valuable and rewarding work. Our volunteers get a unique insight into the current challenges of policing right across the county and provide an independent voice on behalf of the communities we serve.

“I would like to thank all of our volunteers for their hard work and determination throughout a very challenging year. An example of some excellent work by volunteers is exemplified by our Special Constabulary who have contributed more than 46,000 hours supporting policing in the county over the past 12 months. This is a fantastic achievement and I would like to thank them for their contribution, however we cannot forget that volunteering covers much more than the Special Constabulary. A huge amount of work is done in every area of policing to support our efforts to keep people safe and every volunteer is a vital and valued member of our policing family. Volunteers are an inspiration to us all and I am constantly impressed with their commitment and support and I hope that they act as inspiration to others. I would encourage anyone who wants to do something worthwhile in their spare time to visit the volunteering pages of our website.”

Mr Preston said: “This past year has been very challenging for us all, however, people all over the county have continued to give up their time to keep our communities safe. I would like to thank all our volunteers for their enormous contribution over the past 12 months. Your commitment, professionalism and determination has been outstanding.”

Over the week, the force will be celebrating and thanking the many different people who volunteer.

Cadet leader Paul Watson and volunteer police cadet Billy Cunningham have also joined in with the celebration. Paul works as a public health nurse and has been giving up his spare time to volunteer as a cadet leader for more than a year. Paul is an adult instructor within the cadets and is there to deliver training and support to the young people. Paul loves spending his spare time volunteering for the cadets. He said: “Volunteering is not just about what you are giving to others in the form of time or knowledge, it is more about what you are getting from the other team members. Being a part of the cadets team helps me to see other perspectives on life, culture, experiences and future opportunities.”

Billy, 17, joined the cadets as the first step towards a policing career. Billy finds the volunteer cadets to be like “one big police family.” He said: “I enjoy cadets because I gain new skills and policing knowledge. I’m home educated so I have plenty of free time, and what better way to spend it then expanding my career path into the police! I would definitely recommend volunteering. I’m from a gypsy traveller background and the cadets have accepted me like any other cadet, and I have made my way up to become one of the first cadet sergeants for Cambridgeshire police.”