THE huge contribution volunteers make to policing in Cambridgeshire is being celebrated as part of a national event.
National Volunteers’ Week starts today 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 8600 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.
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.”
Specials provide support over a whole range of policing activity, from road policing, football matches and emergency response to major crime and other specialist areas such as domestic abuse and the rural crime team. Some case studies of Specials working in Specialist areas are included at the bottom of this release.
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
For more information on other volunteering opportunities visit: www.cambs-police.co.uk/recruitment/volunteers
Retired RAF engineer Peter Keen, 69, has been a Special constable for three years and now works in the domestic abuse investigation and safeguarding unit (DAISU).
Peter, who is from the Peterborough area, was an engineer in the RAF for more than 40 years, specialising in avionics (the electronic systems used on aircraft) and introduced the “lean” manufacturing system, pioneered by Toyota.
After his retirement in 2012 he was walking through the Queensgate shopping centre in Peterborough when he stumbled across a Specials recruitment stand.
He said: “At the time I was thinking what am I going to do now? It was not in my mind to join the police and it was just chance that I saw the recruitment drive.
“I thought it would be interesting so I spoke to a Special to check the age limit. Then out of devilment I got onto the internet and got an application in.”
Peter started reactive shifts and just over a year ago joined the DAISU. Volunteering two full days a week suited him better.
He said: “I wanted to help the community and support regular officers and if I do the paperwork in the DAISU then it frees up other officers.
Louisa Bellis has a PhD and has a career as a chemist. After becoming a Special, she spent just under a year working with a shift in Cambridge City but then moved to the Road Policing Unit (RPU) where she has been for just over two years.
Her shifts are mostly made up of road traffic collisions, speed enforcement and general patrols on the main arterial routes around Cambridgeshire.
She said: “Being a Special Constable is like nothing I could have ever imagined or predicted. When I started the application process in 2010, I knew that I was interested in being a police officer, but I didn’t know if I would be a ‘good fit’ for the force, or even if it would be something that I would ultimately enjoy or be good at.
“However, literally an hour into my first shift in January 2012 I knew it was for me and haven’t looked back since. 2,400+ operational hours later and I am still hooked and full of enthusiasm, wanting to do more.”
“If you’ve got time and you want to help your community it’s a good way of doing it. When you’re on reactive you never know what’s going to happen next and I still get involved in uniform patrols for events like football matches.”
Andrew Lawrence and Shawn Grady
Special Inspector Andrew Lawrence and Special Sergeant Shawn Grady have just joined the force’s counter-terrorism Prevent team.
Andrew, 62, mentors managers at environmental company Empteezy and has been a Special for seven years, working up to now in local policing in East Cambs.
Shawn, 29, supervises the printing and distribution of exam documents for Cambridge Assessment, and has been a Special for nine years in East Cambs. He is also a trained in dealing with public disorder situations.
Prevent is about safeguarding people and communities from the threat of terrorism and is one of the four elements of CONTEST, the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy.
It aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism and involves working with a wide range of sectors (including education, criminal justice, faith, charities, online and health) where there are risks of radicalisation.
The team helps reduce the risk of radicalisation through interventions and does not seek to criminalise those involved. If no risk is found following initial concerns, people are guided towards other help and support services.