The outstanding contribution of special constables, and volunteers has been recognised at the annual Avon and Somerset Constabulary Citizens In Policing Awards. The awards recognise the time and effort, as well as the invaluable contributions, given by those who volunteer in policing across Avon and Somerset. Winners were selected across four categories including, Special Constable of the Year, Special Constabulary Team of the Year, Police Support Volunteer of the Year, and Police Support Volunteer Team of the Year.
Amongst those awarded were: a police support volunteer who implemented a policing framework to support those in a particularly disadvantaged community, an acting special sergeant who has offered hundreds of hours to help his colleagues; a volunteer team that has catapulted Avon and Somerset Police to the top of the list in terms of diversity, and a team of special constables that dealt with community tension at a time of high operational demand during COVID-19.
Stephen Cullen, Assistant Chief Constable for Avon and Somerset Police said:
“It is now more important than ever for us to recognise and celebrate those who volunteer their time to help the police, to help keep communities safe, and to help our most vulnerable.
“I would like to pay special thanks to all volunteers and special constables who have chosen to donate their free time to us during these particularly difficult times throughout the COVID-19 lockdown. Demand has been exceptionally high in the last five months and maintaining positive relationships with the communities we serve has been crucial. We would not have been able to do this without the help of our special constables and volunteers who have brought valuable skills and expertise to police teams, and have helped us foster closer and more effective relationships with our communities.
“It’s a huge congratulations from me to all our in-force winners who have shown incredible commitment to policing, and to the public, by implementing pioneering initiatives, developing strategic operations, and executing demanding tasks. These winners will all be put forward to represent Avon and Somerset Police at the South West Regional Citizens in Policing Awards, at which they will be judged against nominees from other forces and I wish you all the absolute best of luck”.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said:
“I’d like to say a huge congratulations to all of our in-force winners this year. It’s always a privilege to work alongside our volunteers who continue to devote their time to support the police in keeping our communities safe.
“I do not underestimate the commitment and dedication from our volunteers who selflessly give up their time to support officers and staff, especially having to adapt in the current challenging circumstances. It’s at times like these that we must remember to take the time to celebrate the selfless work of our volunteers who continue to go above and beyond to keep our communities safe. Our volunteers are passionate about policing and our communities, and I want to say a well done and a huge thank you for all you do.”
The winners of the in-force awards were:
- Police Support Volunteer Team of the Year Award:
The Black Police Association Outreach Volunteers Team was awarded for their ground-breaking work in building strong and lasting relationships with harder-to-reach communities. Through a wide range of outreach initiatives the team has played a central role in helping to create a more diverse and representative police force. They have worked tirelessly, giving up their time to promote our force values, breaking down barriers and myths, and building confidence in the police. They have achieved this by engaging with young people from different backgrounds, assisting in the launch of the interactive ‘knife workshops’, and attending community events at colleges and universities to secure the interest of future officers and staff.
- Police Support Volunteer of the Year Award:
Bronwen Bishop was awarded for her role in spearheading positive socio-economic changes in one of the most deprived parts of the UK. Bronwen is a One Team Strategic Support Volunteers for the Bournville and Oldmixon One Team. When she joined the force in 2017, Bronwen conducted a review of the way the team was engaging with key stakeholders and managing vulnerability in the community. Bronwen went on to develop and deliver an effective multiagency approach to solve complex societal issues, which has led to a reduction of repeat referrals, an increase in local community engagement, and the introduction of a dental hygiene programme for children. Brownen has driven pioneering work in this area, working tirelessly to provide a strategic direction for the team, and engaging in a positive way with local partners and residents.
- Special Constable of the Year Award:
Acting special sergeant Joel Bowd was awarded for his remarkable dedication to his role, infectious attitude and work ethic, and commitment to promoting our force values. In two years Joel has volunteered thousands of hours, has given up his free time to complete additional training, and has developed exemplary relationships with all his colleagues. Colleagues have said that Joel shows an unrivalled level of compassion and empathy when dealing with members of the public, including those who are most vulnerable. Joel is an invaluable addition to the force, a brilliant leader, and someone who goes above and beyond basic requirement to deliver an outstanding service to his community.
- Special Constable Team of the Year Award:
The West Somerset team of specials for playing a significant role in managing the ongoing and complex issue of car meets in Cheddar Gorge. Large-scale care meets have been increasing common at the gorge, attracting 300 to 500 people, causing significant disruption to local communities with anti-social behaviour, noise and road traffic accidents. Since the easing of lockdown measures, the west Somerset team has doubled efforts to tackle the issue independently managing operations, targeting those committing crimes and reassuring the public.
Their handling of the first weekend lockdown ended showcases the exemplary work of the team. An unexpected car meet with an excess of 400 vehicles arrived that weekend, at a time when operational demand was high, the neighbourhood team was stretched beyond capacity, and an influx of day-trippers were visiting the gorge. The special independently managed the closure of the road, implemented dispersal orders, and successfully ensured all vehicles were removed safely. They also worked hard to diffuse tension in the community and keep a vast number of pedestrians safe. The specials team have taken a proactive and front-seat approach to tackling the issue of car-meets head on and have played a key role in managing community tensions and improving confidence in policing.
Recruitment for our Special Constabulary is currently open. We encourage applications from different professional backgrounds and have a huge variety of roles available ranging from operational to police support jobs. Find out more about joining the Special Constabulary .