Posted: Friday 8th June 2018
Police support volunteers undertake a variety of different roles and cover everything from helping with Community Speedwatch initiatives, to being a restorative justice facilitator to making sure the fleet vehicles run smoothly and are gleaming. There are 650 volunteers who support policing across Avon and Somerset – people who give up their time to help keep our police service running smoothly. As we mark this year’s National Volunteer’s Week, I want to take the time to thank them for all they do and I hope they know that their role is an important one. Quite simply, they allow officers and staff to concentrate on what they’re best at – keeping us safe and feeling safe.
For those volunteers who would like a role in uniform, you could also become a special constable and join the over 300 special constables who give up their time to support the work of their colleagues. Special constables are volunteer police officers with the same powers as regular officers and spend a minimum of 16 hours a month or more supporting the police to tackle crime in their communities. Many of the specials I have spoken to tell me how rewarding they find this role alongside their day job. Special constables, like all our volunteers, are a valued part of our police family and their achievements towards reducing crime and improving the quality of life for all the community never goes unnoticed.
Strengthening and improving our local policing teams is one of my priorities in the Police and Crime Plan and last Friday I had the great privilege to watch 11 new PCSO’s pass out at their graduation. Bristol is a great place to live and work and earned the titles of ‘most liveable city’ and ‘best city in the UK to live’. However, despite all this city has to offer, sadly 16% of our residents are living in deprivation and we know these communities are more likely to experience crime. That’s why it’s important we do all we can to strengthen effective partnerships and empower our communities to ensure local community safety priorities are addressed. As residents you are at the heart of your communities and we need your help to ensure our communities remain strong and safe.
This week the Home Secretary Sajid Javid published a strategy which outlines the UK’s response to the evolving threat of terrorism. Although it’s reassuring this has the Government’s attention at a national level, I understand what’s important is what this means locally. You are the eyes and ears of our communities and the intelligence you can provide is vital in preventing terrorism. Working with our communities and our wider partners we can prevent radicalisation and improve our resilience. Together we must ensure that there is no safe space for terrorists to operate. We must look out for and care for one another and if you see anything suspicious please report it to the police.
I would like to thank Easton Community Centre for hosting my community surgery this week. It’s important that I take the time to visit communities and listen to local residents. Last night I held a public forum at the Shire Way Centre, Yate, with the Chief Constable and the local policing team. We had a really positive meeting and it’s essential that local people have access to the people in charge of policing and those making decisions on their behalf. I could not meet so many local people without the support of community organisations or voluntary groups, who offer well established community bases for me to visit and listen to your concerns – so thank you.