Members of the public are being invited to support Suffolk Constabulary by becoming the 'eyes and ears' of their communities as part of a new initiative.
The Local Policing Volunteer pilot scheme was originally launched across six towns and villages including; Bungay, Beccles, Woodbridge, Eye, Stanton and Long Melford in April. It has now been opened up to the whole county and has already attracted early interest but spaces remain for further dedicated individuals.
As part of the non-uniform role, volunteers become accessible points of contact for their communities and help Suffolk Constabulary to detect crime by promoting effective communication and the prompt reporting of suspicious and criminal activity in each area.
Volunteers are not expected to become involved in any incident where conflict or threat exists and will have no power of arrest or detention. They are there to report anything suspicious or unusual directly to the police. They will receive full induction training and have access to their local police station to attend appropriate briefings.
Local Policing Volunteers are an important element of our police family, which includes police officers, PCSOs, police staff and the Specials.
Local Policing Volunteers:
• must be aged over 18 years
• don't have an upper age limit
• can work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week and hours are mutually agreed locally
• are not required to wear a uniform
• will be covered by public liability insurance wherever they undertake their volunteering duties
Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton said: "Volunteers are extremely important for the constabulary and we recognise the tremendous contribution they make.
"As a force, we actively encourage the public to report any concerns about what they see and hear in their communities and the trial of this new scheme is a welcome addition in helping the communities across the county stay safer. It is important to stress the volunteers will not be involved in any official tasking or deployments – they will be the eyes and ears of their local community to report any unusual activity to uniformed officers who will then take the appropriate action."
Tim Passmore, Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner said: "When I was re-elected two years ago I made a commitment to expand the network of volunteers and special constables throughout the county.
"The Local Policing Volunteer Scheme is a very good example of communities helping themselves and being the eyes and ears to what's going on. It's going back to what traditional policing was all about - the police are the public and the public are the police. It's a two-way process. Volunteers will wear tabards and look out for any suspicious or criminal behaviour while out in the community. They will then report back to their local Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) who will deal with the crimes. They will not have powers of detention and will not intervene. We think that gathering all this extra information will be very helpful indeed.
"Sometimes it's the very last piece of evidence that solves a crime and this could really help us access all the details we need to know. This is a very exciting scheme. I'm very pleased that all six areas in the pilot are on board with it and delighted to see it extended across the county. I'm looking forward to seeing how it develops and would encourage anyone who is interested to get in touch."
Anyone interested in becoming a Local Policing Volunteer will undergo a training package, be given a tabard and have a direct point of contact with police, as well as be included in regular meetings. The supportive role is also designed to work alongside usual activities and at no point requires participants to directly get involved in tackling crime.
Volunteers will need to undergo and pass security checks at the appropriate level for the role, although no medical assessment is required.
To gain further information regarding any of the constabulary's volunteering roles, visit www.suffolk.pnn.police.uk/joinus or email email@example.com or phone on 01473 613589.