Our Police Support Volunteers have a range of ages, backgrounds, professions and experiences, which makes their input in supporting policing so valuable.
These profiles of our Police Support Volunteers highlight their experiences, their roles away from the force and how volunteering benefits them and our communities.
For the last ten and a half years I have been a volunteer at Pontesbury Police Station. Pontesbury is one of the largest villages in the Midlands, and is situated about eight miles west of the county town of Shrewsbury.
Two Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) operate from this busy station, Shrewsbury Rural West SNT and Shrewsbury Rural East SNT. In the very near future, we will be moving from the 1960s station to a community hub, which will also house the library.
I am 76 years old, and of course have been unable to volunteer for some weeks due to COVID-19, but I will return when deemed safe to do so.
I am an ex-Shropshire and West Mercia Police officer and left the job I loved after 13 years. At that time, I moved from Shrewsbury’s Traffic Department to Shrewsbury town as acting Sergeant, prior to promotion to Sergeant.
Shropshire and three other forces amalgamated into West Mercia Police in October 1967. It was agreed that officers would not be moved out of their original force area except on promotion. I was to be moved to Kidderminster. I had no problem with this, but my wife wished to remain close to her mother, who also lived in Shrewsbury. So I had to decide, job or family, and as I have now been married 53 years I suppose I made the right choice leaving the police force and buying a business!
In 2009, I heard that West Mercia had volunteers working from stations, so I completed the necessary forms, half expecting to be rejected due to my age, which was 66 at the time. However, I was pleased to be accepted in January 2010 and "posted" to Pontesbury, where I have remained. Pontesbury is an area I know well, as I was born and lived for the next 21 years of my life between the villages of Great Hanwood and Cruck Meole, about two miles away.
I have always been accepted as part of the police team, especially by the present officers and PCSOs.
The station has a front counter, which I have worked every Wednesday afternoon and evening until the present crisis, and until this time I had never missed a duty except for holidays. I had a stroke in January 2017, but still managed to go to the station the next Wednesday after leaving hospital. I found it therapeutic and not only work Wednesdays, but any other days I could be usefully employed.
I find it rewarding that I can help and advise the people of Pontesbury and surrounding villages who call into the station. I take details of their complaint and sometimes can deal with it, but always notify the officers of the visit. The people are always pleased to speak to someone personally, rather than leaving a message on the telephone or sending an email. I also contact victims of crime, antisocial behaviour etc. and the people are always so grateful for my call.
I think I make a worthwhile contribution to policing the local area. I also accompany officers to shows or crime prevention displays on the mobile police station. I also look after the 13 Neighbourhood Watches. I enjoy meeting and helping ordinary people who have had what to them is an extraordinary and perhaps frightening experience.
In October 2019, through my volunteering with the Police, I became involved in Pathfinder, the under 17 driver charity, and for a week trained a youngster to drive safely according to Road Craft, the police driving manual from which I had been trained to drive to in 1967. This was at RAF Seighford in Stafford, a closed airfield. We used ex-SNT and dog handler Vauxhalls which had come to the end of their working life. In the unusually warm weather, we soon became aware which ones were the ex-dog cars! All the trainee drivers came from within the care system and at the end of the week-long course, the carers reported an improvement in the youngsters’ behaviour, especially one I engaged with, who was a convicted joyrider.
I appreciate that due to my age, I will not be able to carry out my volunteering duties for some considerable time, but will return when safe to do so, as I always enjoy my time with the police family.
I was proud to be awarded the certificate for “Commitment to Protecting Our Communities from Harm”, nominated by my line manager PC Ross Cookson and Liz Wells from Citizens in Policing. I was one of only about six volunteers to receive this award.
I have a long history of supporting communities with after school clubs, play schemes, Brownies and charity events, so it comes as no surprise that I now find myself in this interesting and evolving role.
I was a qualified health care professional for many years and took early retirement. The most valuable asset I bring with me is that I enjoy public interaction. I have actually saved a life and probably this has been the most rewarding contribution I have given to date.
Having just moved into the area and hearing about concerns of localised crime, I simply asked our local Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) about what could be done to help reduce the crime in our area. This led to learning more about what Neighbourhood Watch and other schemes bring to build community awareness in reducing local crime. I decided to progress and gained support from our parish council to start the journey to establish a Watch scheme, which developed into a multiple scheme within a month. The basis of gaining so much local support followed a public engagement event where I involved all three emergency sectors, along with Age Concern, the parish council, Neighbourhood Watch and the borough council to roll out SmartWater and hands-on CPR training for the wider community.
Two years on, our community talks and supports one another, which has come into its own in the COVID-19 pandemic. This background has been invaluable as it directly links into my current role as a Police Support Volunteer.
While interacting with the local SNT, I became very interested in how they support communities and wanted to develop my experience further. Police support volunteering was the obvious route to take and my application was successful.
My journey has taught me the benefits of working together; after all, we are all equals, so I started linking neighbouring parishes. Learning from others’ experiences, it soon became apparent that most communities shared the same challenges. I attended PACT meetings, which were useful platform working with councillors and helping them gain approvals for funding the SmartWater initiative and developing Neighbourhood Watch schemes, overall supporting and promoting safer communities.
I learnt quickly that a Police Support Volunteer role is wide and varied. This was apparent during the floods in late 2019, when I assisted the SNT with door-to-door enquiries for evacuation and raised awareness through the SNT social media platforms.
I developed a crime prevention display board that could be prepared to take to venues, carrying out research to obtain the best footfall areas to be developed into busy diary slots. This took me to local banks, retail outlets, supermarkets and community halls. I also assisted West Mercia Police with corporate campaigns, such as Be Safe Be Seen and drink driving to raise public awareness.
In March 2020, Rural Crime meetings developed and the South Worcestershire Rural Watch (Rural Focus) was launched with the PCC John Campion, gaining local press coverage. Appointed as one of the administrators of this evolving group, I helped recruit new members and develop the concept.
It was important to me that the network of Neighbourhood Watch schemes continued to progress and gaps were filled, pushing crime away from communities to support safer neighbourhoods.
Variety continued with my appointment as Special Point Of Contact to assist with a missing person, working with the community and West Mercia Search & Rescue and reporting to appropriate officers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes to my role, necessitating new ways to communicate. Social media has played an important role in relaying important information to the wider communities and liaising online with the public and SNTs across the whole of West Mercia. I was nominated online to support Baxter’s Ambassadors in May 2020 for the mental health awareness campaign, which was very rewarding.
I have also joined the NHS National Voluntary Register as a First Responder and have registered 723 hours to date, assisting local citizens who are in isolation through these difficult times.
The role has exceeded my expectations in broadening my horizons and making a valuable contribution to society. If you are thinking of becoming a Police Support Volunteer, don’t hesitate, take the first step on this exciting journey!
Following a road traffic collision in 2003, when I was 35, I have been volunteering for quite a few years, including for the Midlands Air Ambulance charity and as a trustee for Ethos, a charity in Oswestry which provides short term accommodation for people with spinal injuries, which I have. I am also a full time wheelchair user.
Some five years back, I was involved with the Shropshire Disability Network. During a meeting, I was approached by a member of a West Mercia Police Independent Advisory Group and asked if I would consider joining; I’m still involved with the Disability Independent Advisory Group.
More recently, I have been volunteering for the Firearms Unit in Shrewsbury, helping to do shotgun certificate renewals. I enjoy all my volunteering roles when my health allows me to take part and find the IAG role interesting, as we cover the way in which disabled people are handled in the police system.
I volunteer within Corporate Communications to support the team and force as a whole. The opportunity allows me to increase my understanding of the force and help them to reinforce their messaging, in tandem with enhancing my own skills and experience.
I have always been interested in joining West Mercia Police and wanted to see what it was like to volunteer before looking at other options. In addition, I was keen to increase my corporate social responsibilities, so this approach has allowed me to undertake both. I have been lucky enough to meet many wonderful officers and civilian staff and look forward to increasing my hours again when lockdown allows.
I run a PR agency and a local good cause, as well as raise two children on my own, although I make time to voluntarily support West Mercia Police in order to help make a difference.
I’ve used my communications skills to support the team with some positive messaging, reinforcing the work that West Mercia Police undertakes.
I enjoy meeting with officers, understanding the work and how it’s affecting everyday lives, then supporting Corporate Communications in sharing the story. I honestly don’t think most people understand how the roles of officers and PCSOs affect the community so positively. By making the time to showcase them and support the Corporate Communications team, it allows the stories to be heard.
The benefits of volunteering for the force have been the opportunity to learn and meet people and enhancing my skills and my understanding of the force and what they do on a day-to-day basis. I hope to support West Mercia Police further when the lockdown restrictions are lifted and make the most of the benefits, such as new groups of friends, as much as possible.
I never applied to be a volunteer. In fact, the first I knew was when I received a letter with the forms to fill in for the security check! My lovely local officer, PC Kevin Reilly, had put my name forward! That was 23 years ago and this was to be the first volunteer scheme in the country. We ran the front counter at Broadway in Worcestershire, Monday to Friday, 10 to 4pm.
I've learnt so much volunteering: property management, what the police do and what the public expect them to do (not always the same thing!). I've trained volunteers and shadowed them until they were competent to be left unsupervised. Since moving to Evesham, I've been ordering the stationery and property equipment, liaising with workmen and generally keeping the station running, whilst also sending out posts for the Public Messaging Service. I used to go out to Smartwater presentations with PC McLaren, when it was first introduced. John did the speaking and I took the orders. We sold well over 3000 packs! I also do similar at Droitwich station.
I enjoy it. I've made some great friends who I am still in touch with today.