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Celebrating our thousands of volunteers

Today, on International Volunteer Day 2021, we’re celebrating the thousands of people who give back to the communities of Avon and Somerset, by donating their time to working with us.

We’re also thanking and paying tribute to the organisations who have signed up to Employer Supported Policing (ESP), generously encouraging and supporting their employees to volunteer with us, often during working hours.

Our amazing volunteers are among hundreds of millions of people worldwide who give their time to help make the world a better place.

Enriching our organisation with their unique talents, skills and experiences, their ongoing contribution and commitment helps us to deliver a better service to the public and make Avon and Somerset a safer place to live, work and visit.

Our volunteers include 312 special constables, who are warranted police officers with the same powers as employed police constables. They perform a range of important frontline policing duties including responding to calls for help from the public, neighbourhood policing and patrols, roads policing duties and supporting policing operations such as our Christmas anti drink/drug drive campaign.  Over the last year, they have together dedicated an incredible 71,000 duty hours.

A further 187 police support volunteers work with us in a host of other roles including a groom in our mounted section, drivers to deliver and collect items and transport police officers and exhibits to and from court, chaplains who provide welfare support to our officers and staff and chaperones who provide support and guidance to people attending identification parades and procedures. Over the last year, they have collectively attended 2,662 shifts and donated an amazing 8,948 hours.

We have some 230 police cadets aged 13-17 across Avon and Somerset who are learning about policing, helping people in their local communities and volunteering alongside police officers and PCSOs at public events.

Community Speed Watch and Neighbourhood Watch volunteers run into thousands across our force area, with local groups proactively working with us to keep their communities safer.

In many cases, donations of time wouldn’t have been possible without ESP employers, who put in place policies that enable their staff to carry out policing-related duties.  They also provide additional paid leave for volunteering and training.

This can be invaluable.  In the early months of the pandemic, volunteers from Great Western and First Bus for example, were able to support us full-time whilst unable to be fully-utilised in their employed roles.

George, a Special Inspector, has volunteered with us for eight years, alongside his work in equipment and support.  His employer provides additional paid leave and flexible working, which enables George to support his police colleagues when most needed and attend training during the week.

George feels he is able to give back to his employer through the skills he learns in his police volunteering role.  Problem solving, being calm under pressure and leading a team are all skills he can use in his career.

George says: “People ask why I donate hours without getting paid.  Wanting to help the community and our colleagues when they need us most is what drives many of us to volunteer.”

Special Constable Jamie is grateful to his employer, a banking organisation, for supporting his commitment to policing. He is awarded two weeks additional paid leave to devote to police shifts.

“The extra hours given by my employer really helps to tackle crime. Recently I played my part in apprehending a burglary suspect and helping to secure a conviction on a weekday night which, without my employer’s support, would never had happened.” Jamie explains.

Ali joined us several years ago after asking a special constable on patrol what he stood for.  He then developed his knowledge and looked back through history to see how integral the Special Constabulary is.  Since joining, the support of his logistics employer and his family have been paramount.

Ali says: “Work have been amazing, giving me time off for training weekends and encouraging me to develop transferable skills.  Through volunteering, I have developed better team working, management, organisational, conflict management and health and safety skills. All of these help improve who I am privately and at work.

“I feel my proudest moment was when I first wore my uniform; the pride I had for undertaking the role is something that will stay with me forever.”

Today we are proud to be celebrating all of the individuals and organisations who support Avon and Somerset Police and share our values: caring, inclusive, courageous and learning.

Thank you for making so much of what we do possible.