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Patricia Riley

Police Support Volunteer, Thames Valley

My proudest achievement is in being able to develop my role to encompass further duties. By putting myself forward to help in a number of ways, I have been able to take on jobs that were taking up the time of police officers and PCSOs. They can now be released from the station to perform key policing duties.

Why did you become a Police Support Volunteer? Having retired I was lucky to have the opportunity to look for ways to contribute to my community.  I also volunteer for the charity Oxfam, and getting involved with the police was another avenue to explore to donate my time.

What skills do you bring to the role and what does your work involve? I bring a range of skills to the role that I have gained throughout my working life.  For 20 years I worked as an Administration Manager for Management Consultants Pricewaterhouse Coopers in Melbourne, Australia, so my administrative skills are excellent. I also have good interpersonal skills having dealt with a variety of clients and colleagues in that role.

My voluntary role involves assisting the neighbourhood policing teams at Henley and Sonning Common in Oxfordshire. I work as a front counter assistant, helping members of the public who come in for a variety of reasons and carry out a wide range of general administrative tasks. These include the administration of fixed penalty tickets, monitoring police vehicle roadworthiness checks and compiling monthly returns, media scanning local newspapers to compile weekly reports and updating the Speedwatch database.  The work is very varied. I also help with the general running of the police stations by making sure they have the provisions that they need.

What have you gained from being a volunteer? In addition to the satisfaction I get from performing a worthwhile role, the interaction with the police and the public at large, has given me a greater understanding of the complexity of police work.

What is the reality of volunteering like compared to what you had expected? Initially I expected my role would simply be dealing with the public at the front desk.  In reality, by being proactive and making myself available for further duties, the role has developed into a much broader one.  There really are lots of opportunities to get involved in a number of ways.

What is your proudest achievement as a volunteer? My proudest achievement is in being able to develop my role to encompass further duties. By putting myself forward to help in a number of ways, I have been able to take on jobs that were taking up the time of police officers and PCSOs. They can now be released from the station to perform key policing duties.

What is the best thing about volunteering? Performing my volunteering role enhances my retirement by keeping me active, alert and stimulated.

What’s the biggest challenge? It can be a challenge to make sure you establish the correct relationship with your police colleagues. It’s all about being available to assist them but not getting in their way.  There are some things which volunteers could not do and should not do due to confidentiality and the absence of training.  It’s also about being available and friendly but not unnecessarily taking up the time of officers, staff members and PCSOs who are so very busy.

What advice would you give to someone considering volunteering for the police? My advice would be to remember that volunteers are not only there to make cups of tea and hand out biscuits, you can make yourself available to perform real and valuable services to the police and therefore to your community.

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