Saturday (June 1)marks the start of Volunteers’ Week, set up 35 years ago to recognise the enormous contribution made by millions of people who selflessly give up their time each year to make a difference to the lives of others, writes Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite.
In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, we are very lucky to have hundreds of people from all walks of life, and from a wide range of ages and communities, who give their time for free to support the police and other parts of the criminal justice system.
Each and every day, they are helping make our streets safer, supporting survivors of crime, ensuring those in custody are treated with dignity and respect and building stronger communities across our county.
Some of these volunteer schemes are well-established, such as our Special Constables who train and then work alongside our regular police officers to police our streets.
Special Constables are a true sign of the partnership between the police and the public. They provide vital support to a whole range of policing activities. They’re teachers, taxi drivers, secretaries and shop assistants, but what they all have in common is they want to help policing in their local area. They provide a link between the police and the diverse communities we serve, helping the force meet policing needs, and increasing public satisfaction.
Although they’re unpaid, they’re sworn in by a magistrate, just like regular police officers, and work alongside regular officers, wearing the same uniform and having the same powers in law, including the power of arrest.
With their long and rich history stretching back more than 180 years they are a well-known part of modern-day policing.
However, some of our volunteer schemes provide an equally important service but are less well known.
Our Police Support Volunteers work in a variety of roles supporting day-to-day policing, from supporting victims and witnesses of crime, operating CCTV, supporting crime reduction schemes and local policing teams with community engagement projects, to helping to analyse intelligence.
Our Independent Custody Visitors visit detainees in pairs to check on their treatment, the conditions in which they are being held and that their rights and entitlements are being observed. This scheme received national recognition recently after achieving silver status by national body ICVA (Independent Custody Visitors’ Association) to recognise the significant work that goes above and beyond the statutory requirements of the schemes, managed across the country by Police and Crime Commissioners.
We also have our Police Chaplains, who provide personal, practical and spiritual support to officers and staff, and our Volunteer Police Cadet leaders who help to run the Volunteer Police Cadet (VPC) unit and assist with the planning and delivery of the VPC programme. This fun and rewarding role supports young people to build their confidence and enjoy a range of events and activities.
And we must not forget our Neighbourhood Watch and Speed Watch volunteers, who are the police’s eyes and ears in the community, alerting officers to local issues and enabling them to take action where it’s needed most.
I’d like to say a sincere thank you to each and every one of our volunteers who work so selflessly and tirelessly to support our paid staff within the constabulary and other agencies in providing services to you, the residents of Cambridgeshire.
I, for one, feel indebted to them all for their commitment, professionalism and dedication to their unpaid roles, as well as their kindness and generosity with their time and skills.
If you are interested in giving something back to your community, or feel you have time to spare that you would like to put to good use in helping to improve the lives of others then we would love to hear from you.
To find out more about the volunteering opportunities available visit: https://www.cambridgeshire-pcc.gov.uk/get-involved/volunteer-schemes