Essex Police has numerous opportunities for members of the public to volunteer, including the Special Constabulary, Police Cadets, Active Citizens, Essex Watch and the Community Accreditation Scheme.
The Special Constabulary contributed approximately 10,000 hours to the communities of Essex in January 2017 alone and is essential to Essex Police. They are looking to expand this area of voluntary work and with financial support from the Police and Crime Commissioner, they are looking to increase their Special Constables from 350 to 700 by 2019. On a normal shift, Specials support the regular Force, improve public confidence, support traffic operations, and bring those responsible for crime to justice.
They are also looking to expand the roles available to Special Constables by developing their specialist roles. Specials are privileged to work in areas of the Force which not all Police Constables are able to, such as the Dog Section, crime scene investigation, casualty reduction, Stansted Airport and gang crime. In specialist roles, they receive focused training and work closely with the experienced teams.
The concept of Active Citizen (AC) is very simple; volunteers in the community assisting to lower crime and the fear of crime by interacting with the public on behalf of Essex police. ACs affectively act as a link between the community and police. They are a movable resource of reliable people, keen to make a difference and help achieve more cohesive communities, interact with residents in all neighbourhoods and help to make Policing more transparent.
Volunteers are given a uniformed jacket so they are recognised in the community and are a visual deterrent. AC’s may perform door knockings in areas affected by emotive crimes such as Burglary, inform residents of what has occurred in the neighbourhood and give basic crime prevention advice. Residents are genuinely appreciative of the time the volunteers give up to help assist lowering crime and the fear of crime.
It is also a real opportunity for people to gain experience of working with the public to enhance their employment opportunities or further their studies. Indeed this is one of the reasons why it works so well. We currently have 140 Active Citizens spread over all Policing districts in the county.
This year the AC’s have taken part in a CSE Operation that saw them visit all of the 547 hotels and guesthouses in Essex, delivering printed CSE advice to staff and making them aware of what to expect when they contact Police regarding suspicious behaviour at their premises.
They are also involved with ‘Voice of a Child’ an initiative that sees AC’s interact with young victims of crime to gauge how they felt they were treated by Police, if they understood the processes and how they feel about the outcome of the investigation.
AC’s are involved with ‘Get Ready for Summer/Winter’ campaigns, giving out crime prevention information in their districts.
They will also be taking part in the upcoming Operation Meteor, where they will be trained to identify vulnerable residential properties whilst out and about, then offer advice to the residents to help combat burglaries.
Essex Watch brings together the various Watch Schemes across the county to coordinate their good work on behalf of the community and the Community Accreditation Scheme allows Essex’s Chief Constable to accredit staff of organisations throughout Essex with powers to tackle graffiti, litter, abandoned cars and anti-social behaviour. Essex Watch invites community groups and individuals to become more aware of what is going on in their communities and be more crime aware. It is designed to encourage residents to report suspicious activity, report intelligence and be more vigilant when carrying out their everyday commitments.
We have a successful ‘Dog Watch’ scheme with over 3000 members. Dog walkers are encouraged to report intelligence they may see or hear as they are out walking. We also have Rural Farm Watch that brings the farming and rural communities together.
As one of the longest coastlines of any force, we have introduced Marine Watch, which sees owners of boats of all sizes being aware of each other and giving information of what to look out for as well as how to report suspicious behaviour.
Add to this Caravan Watch, Horse Watch and Business Watch, we have bought together all these communities and we are able to send out relevant news and crime prevention advice.
COMMUNITY SAFETY ACCREDITATION SCHEME (CSAS) ACCREDITATION:
We have 555 Accredited Persons employed by 54 Accredited organisations across Essex.
The Accredited People aid more successful partnership working in order to resolve community issues that one agency alone cannot achieve.
VOLUNTEER POLICE CADETS:
We have 10 Cadet Units spread across all areas of the county, with a total of 320 Cadets.
The Volunteer Police Cadets (VPC) is a uniformed voluntary youth organisation, supported by the Police, and open to young people aged 13-18 from across the UK’s diverse communities, irrespective of their background or financial circumstances, and including those vulnerable to crime or social exclusion.
This year we have conducted a Summer Camp week on Mersea Island, where Cadets took part in team building and pioneering exercises, learning about independence and acquiring new life skills. Some also travelled to Belgium to visit locations of World War One battle sites and learn more about these historical events.
We are looking to expand the scheme by introducing two new Units in areas where there is demand. We are also looking at introducing ‘Junior Cadets’ aimed at 10-13 year olds.
The Volunteer Police Cadet programme offers a fantastic variety of opportunities to the young people involved, many of which would otherwise be well beyond their expectations.
Together, Essex Police’s wide pool of volunteers make a huge difference to the safety of the county each and every day.