The role that volunteers play in assisting policing and maintaining the welfare of individuals has been praised by Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner during National Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June).
Philip Seccombe emphasised that the work of volunteers in keeping Warwickshire safe cannot be underestimated, with many thousands of hours given freely to help the local community.
He said: “Volunteers provide a range of valuable support to policing, often bringing different skills, knowledge and experience into the force. Whether that’s through highly visible roles such as the Special Constabulary and the Police Cadets or through less publicly obvious routes such as the Independent Custody Visitors and Appropriate Adults schemes run by my office, all do an outstanding job.
“Over the course of the past year, volunteers have given tens of thousands of hours to assist policing or to help safeguard the rights and welfare of people when they come into police contact. I want to say a big thank you to all of them, as the time donated is incredible and their efforts are highly valued.”
The praise comes as the Commissioner’s office continues efforts to recruit more people who want to give their time to make a difference to their community. At the beginning of National Volunteers Week staff from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner were on hand at a volunteering fair at Nuneaton Job Centre, organised by Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action. Over the course of the day they met with scores of people interested in volunteering, telling them about the opportunities available to join the Independent Custody Visiting and Appropriate Adults schemes.
Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) are a well-established system of volunteers who attend police stations unannounced to check on the treatment of people detained in custody. They talk to the detainees and observe the conditions in which they are held and ensure that their rights and entitlements are being observed.
Appropriate Adults, meanwhile, support vulnerable adults in police custody. The detained person may be vulnerable because of neurodiversity, trauma, mental ill health, drugs/alcohol, or other reasons. An Appropriate Adult helps to make sure they understand what is happening and the process is fair, for example by sitting in the police interview with the detainee and asking the police to repeat questions or speak more plainly. The scheme ensures that vulnerable people can understand the criminal justice process, reducing the risk of unjust convictions.
In the 12 months to March 2023, ICVs made 78 visits across the two police custody blocks at Nuneaton and Leamington Spa, talking to a total of 102 detainees during that time. In the same period, Appropriate Adults contributed an amazing 170 hours of voluntary service, helping to provide support to vulnerable people on nearly 80 occasions. Last year the Warwickshire Appropriate Adults scheme also received national recognition when it won a prestigious Lord Ferrers Award for voluntary service.
Mr Seccombe added: “I am a strong supporter of volunteering in all its forms, so I would encourage anyone interested in donating their time to take inspiration from National Volunteers’ Week and find out more about how they can get involved.”
You can find out more about volunteering opportunities with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner at: www.warwickshire-pcc.gov.uk/working-together/volunteer-schemes/