The huge contribution volunteers make to policing in Cambridgeshire is being celebrated as part of a national event.
National Volunteers’ Week starts tomorrow, Thursday June 1, and runs until Wednesday, June 7.
Chief Constable Alec Wood and Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite have kicked off the week by thanking the many volunteers, from Specials to police support volunteers and cadet leaders, for their valuable work.
The force is urging others to join them and help catch criminals and keep people safe throughout the year.
This weekend (June3/4) is also national Specials Weekend, when Specials will be out and about showcasing the vital support they provide to regular officers throughout England and Wales.
In the 12 months from April last year to March this year, Specials worked more than 8,600 shifts in Cambridgeshire, amounting to just over 56,000 hours of duty. The force currently has about 240 Specials.
On Saturday (June 3), a recruitment event will be held between 10am and 2pm at force HQ in Huntingdon for anyone interested in finding out more about the Special Constabulary. Presentations from the event will be streamed live on Facebook.
On Wednesday (June 7), the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Hinxton, Cambridge, will hold a volunteering event featuring a Specials recruitment stand and a presentation by Dr Martin Dougherty, the institute’s Chief Operating Officer, who is a Special in Cambridgeshire.
Dr Dougherty has signed the world-renowned institute, which is at the cutting-edge of genome and bioinformatics research, up to the force’s Employer Supported Policing scheme, which means it will support staff in volunteering as a Special. Dr Dougherty will speak about Specials training and duties and his experience of being a voluntary officer for almost a year.
Dr Dougherty is a father of two who lives near Peterborough and graduated as a Special constable last summer.
He said: “For a couple of years I have wanted to do some professional development – but I didn’t want to do another stuffy course and I have a very good friend who is a Special Inspector in Shropshire and he’d been mentioning it for about 10 years.
“I also wanted to give something back to the community and I had considered working on the board of a charity too but I chose being a Special.
“It’s so completely different from my day job, which is full of board and committee meetings - it’s more of a leadership function. I enjoy being a Special because it’s about making those real life decisions that are going to have an impact and help people on the spot.
“My boss has been very supportive and we’ve signed up the organisation to employer supported policing (ESP).”
ESP is a scheme in which any employer can support their staff in volunteering as a Special constable. It is a partnership between employers, their staff and the police service to support Special constables in their duties to increase public safety and confidence.
“The time and effort that you put in as a Special is rewarded 10-fold by the sense of well-being that you’re making a contribution to society”, he added.
“If you do your job well, the regulars are very welcoming and you feel like you’re making a difference supporting them.
“The voluntary sector in the UK is key to community cohesion - coaching at sports clubs or getting involved in parish councils - these are important roles in society with great benefits and being a Special is no different.”
Chief Constable Alec Wood said: “There are so many 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.
“Specials get involved in the exciting world of frontline policing, including specialist areas, and gain professional training, skills and experience.
“All our volunteers get a unique insight into the current challenges of delivering local policing and provide an independent voice on behalf of the communities we serve.
“I would like to thank all our volunteers and would encourage anyone else who wants to do something worthwhile in their spare time to visit the recruitment pages of our website.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite said: “Volunteers play a hugely important role in keeping our communities safe. The Chief Constable and I both recognise the enormous contribution our volunteers make, and are constantly impressed by their level of commitment, professionalism and determination.
“Whilst we recognise that people are able to make different levels of commitment, whatever they give makes a difference and is hugely valued.”
They must commit a minimum of four hours a week to their duties and, like the regular colleagues they work alongside, are sworn in by a magistrate and have identical powers by law, including power of arrest.
Specials working for Cambridgeshire Constabulary have careers as diverse as podiatry, research chemist, children’s kung fu instructor, college lecturer, golf club green keeper, youth worker, chef and orchestra manager.
Vic Kerlin, head of the Special Constabulary, said: “I would like to thank and acknowledge our Special officers for their superb work.
“The level of dedication, effort and flexibility they show is a matter of immense pride for myself and the force.
“Being a Special is a great way to do something really worthwhile and discover what you’re capable of. Many have and are immensely grateful that they took the opportunity when they did.”
For more information on becoming a Special or Police Support Volunteer visit: www.cambs.police.uk/recruitment