Last week, two of our PCSOs, Elaine Cave and Gary Maule, attended a special awards ceremony in London hosted by Unison, the College of Policing, and the National Police Chiefs’ Council, celebrating twenty years since the role of PCSO was introduced.
The vital role of Police Community Support Officer was introduced in in 2002 by the Police Reform Act and since then, PCSOs have established themselves as the cornerstone of neighbourhood policing in England and Wales.
Out of more than 300 nominations across all forces in England and Wales, two Avon and Somerset PCSOs were shortlisted.
PCSO Gary Maule – Early Intervention
Gary is an experienced PCSO with 15 years’ service in Avon and Somerset Police. During his career Gary has built excellent relationships with schools, colleges and young people in Frome.
In 2017 Gary identified a need for early intervention with young people in Frome, including children and young adults who have autism, ADHD and other learning disabilities. Gary set up and introduced the Prison Experience Tour, which involved working with small groups of young people who had been identified as being on the periphery of getting involved in crime and anti-social behaviour.
The scheme involved a visit to the decommissioned Shepton Mallet Prison, where the young people took part in an immersive experience which gave them a feel for what life in prison is like. The experience was designed by Gary to suit the needs of the individuals involved, which helped to remove barriers and build relationships.
Over 100 young people have taken part in this programme resulting in positive outcomes, with many of the young people being deterred away from crime and ASB and allowing Gary to take early intervention if needed due to the relationships he has built with them.
PCSO Elaine Cave – Bravery
In 2020, the tables were turned for Elaine when the police became involved in an incident where Elaine was a victim of domestic abuse by her partner. Elaine subsequently embarked on a huge journey personally, emotionally, and professionally, showing tremendous bravery and courage.
After this initial incident, Elaine chose to be open about her experience with colleagues, to help others. She wrote a blog for the workforce, openly sharing her story with the whole organisation. This was received by colleagues with huge admiration for her courage in speaking so frankly about her life experiences. Elaine’s story and openness in sharing it led to the establishment of a domestic abuse working group, helping and supporting victims of DA both inside and outside the organisation, of which Elaine is an active member. She put the fact that others could be suffering ahead of herself.
As well as sharing her story internally, Elaine also spoke to Crimewatch. She remained anonymous and her face remained hidden, but used her own voice and words, showing immense courage.
Her actions in being open and sharing her story has led to some fantastic work by the DA working group, and she has helped many people feel less alone. She took that first step in speaking out to colleagues, when she did not have to, not only to encourage people to come forward and know they’ll be heard and supported, but also to educate others about the signs that something may not be right for a fellow colleague, friend, or family member.
Avon and Somerset Police’s Head of Neighbourhoods and Partnerships Chief Superintendent Liz Hughes said: “I’m hugely proud of Gary and Elaine for representing Avon and Somerset in such a wonderful light at last week’s awards ceremony. They both model our values in all that they do and illustrate the intrinsic role that PCSOs play within the communities they serve, but also in the police family.”
Next week is National Neighbourhood Policing Week, which celebrates the vital work that neighbourhood policing teams do to keep people safe.
Please follow Avon and Somerset Police’s Neighbourhood Policing Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for updates in your area and follow #NeighbourhoodPolicingWeek across social media.