Posted: Friday 5th June 2015
Every day local people give up their time, often working quietly in the background, to help keep our police service running smoothly. They might not think that their role is an important one (although I hope they do) but it is. Quite simply, they allow officers and staff to concentrate on what they’re best at – keeping us safe and feeling safe.
Police volunteers undertake 40 different roles and cover everything from helping on the Pub Watch initiative to making sure fleet vehicles are gleaming. There are 329 volunteers and together with 450 Special Constables, 250 Volunteer Police Cadets and countless members of Community Speed Watch, Neighbourhood Watch and all the other Watch schemes they give up their time to help.
As well as helping the police, volunteers also help me in my role scrutinising the Constabulary. This is equally important as they provide an independent and impartial look at how the police are performing.
- Twelve local people sit on my Independent Resident’s Panel reviewing complaints made to the police meeting up to 16 times a year.
- 65 people help me assess the standard of care in custody by visiting custody centres all year round, collectively giving around 90 hours of their time each month - that's 1080 hours each year.
- Ten people sit on a panel making sure out of court disposals are being used appropriately. Each panel member gives up 24 hours every year to support us.
Each of them assists me in my role holding the Constabulary to account and each of them makes a real difference.
This week is National Volunteer’s Week and a time for us to thank all the marvellous volunteers and acknowledge the work they do. By getting involved they underline the importance of the police and our communities to each other; we can all do out bit to make where we live better.
It was also this week that I held my latest public forum jointly with Avon and Somerset Police. Held in North Somerset it was a chance for local residents to come along, ask questions of me and the local policing commander and tell us their views of policing in the area.
A broad range of issues were discussed and whilst it was lovely to hear some positive comments about the police I was also disappointed to hear about times when people’s expectations hadn’t been met. A common theme was around communication between the local police and residents; knowing who the neighbourhood officers are, making sure the police are easy to contact and ensuring technology doesn’t make the police less personal were all discussed. In my last column I talked about the accessibility of the police being one area of focus over the coming months – and speaking to local people on Wednesday evening reinforced how important this is.
These forums are held every two months but you can tell me what you think any time – your views help shape policing locally. You can email, write or call me to let me know what you think. At least 250 people contact me each month – why not this month be one of them?
Until next time,