Special constables, cadet leaders and volunteer drivers were amongst the dedicated police volunteers commended at the South West Region Special Constabulary and Police Volunteer Awards yesterday (Sunday 13 October 2019).
This year hosted by Avon and Somerset Police at Somerset County Cricket ground in Taunton, the awards recognise the time, effort and invaluable contributions given by those who volunteer in policing across the entire south-west region. The event was compered by former footballer and vice-president of Show Racism The Red Card; Leroy Rosenior MBE, and attended by police volunteers, police staff and senior officials from all south-west constabularies.
Winners were announced across five categories: Police Support Volunteer of the Year, Special Constable of the Year, Innovation in Policing, Police Support Volunteer Team of the Year and Special Constabulary Team of the Year Arthur Ellis Memorial.
Amongst those awarded was the volunteer driver service for Avon and Somerset Police in Patchway. Transporting officers to important tasks such as attending court, the service has helped to save almost 1,000 hours of police time in its first year of operation, an equivalent cost saving of £11,310. A further £3,906 has been saved on direct costs including car parking. Other winners included a dedicated team in Gloucestershire policing the strategic road network, and a Devon and Cornwall project that aims to reduce the offending rates of individuals who present with mental ill-health.
Andy Marsh, Chief Constable for Avon and Somerset Police, commented:
“It was a pleasure to welcome everyone to my home force and an honour to host this year’s South West Region Special Constabulary and Police Volunteer Awards ceremony.
“All of our volunteers are integral to delivering outstanding policing. We are immensely grateful for their dedication, skills and enthusiasm of our volunteers and these awards are an opportunity for us to pay thanks for the difference made by their actions.”
Sue Mountstevens, Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset Police, added:
“Our volunteers play a significant role in supporting the police and, most importantly, keeping local people in the south-west safe. It is such a privilege to work alongside so many people who so selflessly give up their time to create a safer place for us all to live. Our wonderful volunteers are a shining example of the positive impact local people can have on their community.”
The winners of the awards were:
- Police Support Volunteer of the Year Award:
John Hancock (Wiltshire Police) was awarded for dedication to serving Wiltshire Police and his community. Since retiring from his duties as a PC, John has continued to show his commitment by opening a weekly police information point at his local police station, visiting different locations in his town to provide guidance and advice, and providing invaluable support to anyone who needs it.
- Special Constable of the Year Award:
Sergeant Andrew Blocksage (Devon and Cornwall Police) was awarded for showing outstanding professionalism and selflessness, responding to incidents without hesitation in one of the busiest areas in the force. On one particular occasion, Andrew finished his day job in London and drove to Cornwall to help colleagues with an incident demonstrating his dedication to his role.
- Innovation in Policing Award:
Devon and Cornwall Police was awarded for its Blue Light Interface Project, which brings together mental health practitioners from the Sea Sanctuary and special constables. The project aims to introduce a different approach to reducing the offending rate of individuals with mental ill-health by attending incidents and calls for service where mental ill-health is suspected and providing intervention; developing positive coping strategies with identified individuals, reducing demand on front line blue light services.
- Police Support Volunteer Team of the Year Award:
Avon and Somerset Police’s Volunteer Driver Service team was awarded for its professionalism, flexibility and ‘can do’ attitude. The Volunteer Driver Service launched in Patchway in December 2017, helping to transport officers to important tasks such as attending court. In the first year of operation, custody was the biggest user of the service which has resulted in the saving of 927 hours of police officer and PCSO time, an equivalent cost saving of £11,310. A further £3,906 has been saved on direct costs including car parking. In addition to saving money, the scheme has helped reduce pressures associated with travel like dealing with traffic, finding parking and leaving sufficient time.
- Special Constabulary Team of the Year Arthur Ellis Memorial:
Gloucestershire Police’s Operation Indemnis team was awarded for their proactive approach to policing the strategic road network. In the first six months since its introduction on 1 November 2018, the team committed 1,510 hours, gave educational warnings to 301 drivers, found three individuals positive for alcohol and four positives for drugs, seized 47 vehicles, reported 35 traffic offences and assisted 41 breakdowns.
Our 300 Police Support Volunteers (PSVs) are people from various walks of life who dedicate some of their spare time to perform tasks which complement the duties performed by our police officers and paid staff.
This helps free up officers and staff to perform key operational duties.
Their contribution provides significant benefits to the Police organisation and to local communities, making Avon and Somerset a safer place to live and work.