Friday, 10 June 2016

A point of contact for the equine community

Helen Evans, Equine Liaison 

I have volunteered as an Equine Liaison volunteer for TVP for ten years. I love being part of the police family. They were very supportive when I lost my husband four years ago.

I started doing Horsewatch 24 years ago, and realised that we needed more connection with Officers. Horsewatch is a scheme that allows horse owners and those with equine interests to keep up to date on what is happening in their local area.

My primary role is one of Crime Prevention, and being a point of contact for the equine community. I am only in the office one day a week, but available 24/7. I give talks and attend conferences and seminars to raise awareness of the Horsewatch scheme.

I visit farms and stables to give advice on security and I also run a free tack marking service.
I instigated training which has seen over 400 TVP personnel learn how to handle horses, keeping themselves and members of the public safe.

I work closely with other equine agencies, and promote campaigns such as ‘Be safe or be seen’, ‘Keep your dog on a lead’, ‘Mark it or lose it’ and the latest one ‘Dead slow’.  

What I love about my role is that no two days are the same. I might be answering queries from an officer relating to a missing horse one day, then helping an aggrieved person report a dog incident, or giving a talk to a Pony Club, or helping to identify stolen tack.

I have had over 50 years enjoyment from horses and this is my way of giving something back.

For more information of how you can volunteer with Thames Valley Police
please look at our website.

Police are a profession that needs the public’s support

 Theresa Rice, Evidence Management Unit volunteer

I have been a volunteer for Thames Valley Police for seven and a half years. 

I originally helped out in Force Stores and for the past two and a half years have been helping the Evidence Management Unit, mainly doing the filing. 

I really enjoy the role, mostly because of the people.  They are a great bunch and very appreciative of the help I give.

I have always felt that the police are a profession that needs the public's support and I hoped that in a small way volunteering was one way that I could show that support.

Volunteer role leads to permanent employment

Tina Lee

I had been a stay-at-home mum to five children. But when my youngest two were at nursery I was looking for something to do in the days. Before I’d had children I’d trained as a secretary, but on electronic typewriters not computers! The world of work had moved on.

I did volunteer work with Roads Policing department, Area Intelligence and CSI. I did courses outside of my voluntary work and got some new qualifications.

I then moved to Property (now called Evidence Management Unit) and a paid role came up as a supervisor. I got it and I went from volunteering with the team to supervising them.

Now that I have a job, I am volunteering again - this time as a cadet leader in Bracknell. I love it, it’s a lot of fun but you also see these cadets, also volunteers, learning so much. They are learning about cyber crime and how to teach the vulnerable, especially young people, about staying safe. It is the best way of delivering a message to the younger generation by using the younger generation.

In terms of what volunteering can give – it’s hands on time and experience within a department gaining new skills. And what the organisation gains is volunteers with a whole range of new skills.

One of our volunteers, Martin, has an IT background. He comes to the evidence Management Unit in Slough for one day a week. It’s because of his work that the unit has an electronic spreadsheet which is allows us to follow up easily on the material we deal with… and we deal with a lot – around 10,000 items per year. He is an invaluable part of the team and the work he has done to create the spreadsheet has saved us so much time.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

The gratitude shown to me by families makes it a worthwhile job

Pat Layer, Coroner's Court Support Service Volunteer

I have been a volunteer with TVP for 10 years but for the last eight years have worked with the Coroner’s Court Support Service at Milton Keynes Coroner's Court.

Attending an Inquest can be a bewildering and emotional experience and as trained volunteer I greet families on arrival and give emotional and practical support.

Every family is different and no two inquests are the same, just a different scenario but always calling for tact, diplomacy and empathy. All this makes for a very demanding role which I love. The gratitude shown to me by families makes it all a very worthwhile job.

Over a number of years I have worked for Relate, Carers UK and a local support group for Alzheimer’s.  Nothing compares to my role with the Coroner’s Court Support Service who offered a first class training.       

For more information about volunteering with TVP please see our website.

Acting it out for Thames Valley Police

George Harper, TVP volunteer for 6 & a half years

My primary role is at Aylesbury police station where I assist in administering the Pubwatch scheme in the town. 

Every month I attend the Committee meeting of the Pubwatch members, representing the licensed premises in the town, along with TVP staff and officers. Following this meeting I assist the scheme by writing the minutes of the monthly meetings, writing letters to Pubwatch banned persons, updating the Pubwatch website and whatever else needs doing.

Since I started as a volunteer I have also participated in role play assisting with the training of new police officers. I have taken part in the training of firearms officers which has involved me being shot, taken hostage, and dragged across the floor of a disused shopping mall.

In recent years I have assisted Winslow Neighbourhood office in administering Speedwatch.  This involves occasionally assisting with producing warning letters to speeding drivers recorded by Speedwatch volunteers in local villages.  I also on behalf of TVP, train volunteers in local villages how establish a Speedwatch team in their locality, and how to operate the Speedwatch equipment.

During my working life I was a Chartered Engineer involved in major electrical power projects worldwide.  Since retiring I have very much enjoyed my volunteering with TVP and the very varied roles in which I am involved. It is good to learn new skills and I very much like meeting new people, both within and outside of TVP, that my various roles bring me in contact with. I have been a volunteer with TVP for six and a half years.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Being a Cadet Leader makes a massive difference to the local community

Dan Bell, Cadet Leader

As a volunteer Cadet Leader for Thames Valley Police I organise and assist with the running of the Bracknell and Wokingham Police Cadet Unit.

The role involves me attending meetings to discuss with other leaders a programme of activities for the coming term with specific roles assigned to me and specific evenings I need to organise.
We have a ‘lead’ staff member for each evening, when I’m the ‘lead’ staff member the running of the evening becomes my responsibility with other staff members assisting me. I’m also one of the SPOC’s for Drill, the Team Leaders and The Honest Truth training. As a SPOC I tend to take the lead on each of these areas and their development within the unit.

I really enjoy watching the Cadets progress in their roles, seeing the amount of confidence they have now compared to when the unit first started is amazing; it’s incredible to think I played a part in that. I also particularly enjoy the community engagement and supporting the community through activities.

I’ve been volunteering in this role since about June 2014 which is when I had my interview for the role, it’s been ongoing since then. I volunteer in a number of organisations, not just Thames Valley Police, however, I particularly like volunteering as a Cadet Leader because it makes a massive difference to the local community through the events we attend, the advice we give out to people and the money we raise for charity not to mention the difference we make to the lives of the Cadets that attend the unit.

Do you think you could give up some of your time to being a Cadet Leader?
Have a look at our website to see our current vacancies.

Being a TVP Cadet

Ryan Wittleton, Cadet 

My role as a cadet team leader involves coordinating a team, being an example for the other cadets to follow, and to be a bridge between the cadets and the staff. What I mean by this is that certain cadets feel more comfortable telling their team leader any opinions or queries about cadets and have us either respond to these and/or bring these things up in our meetings with the staff. I feel this is a great way to do this as it helps keep an element of professionalism rather than having the matters come across as personal, by keeping the root of the opinions and such anonymous.

I enjoy cadets as I am passionate about the police service as a whole and will do whatever gets me closest to this as a career. Being a leader was a great privilege to be granted and I wouldn’t have even thought about turning it down. Since the leaders have been implemented I feel that the cadet troop as a group has become more socially closer and friendlier. There is a healthy but strong competitive side to all three of the cadet leaders, which is great for tasks and activities. However when it is needed we are ready and happy to work together.

I have been volunteering with TVP cadets since March when the Bracknell unit was established, but I was invested in volunteer work beforehand as well. For instance I would occasionally help teach at the Pines primary school in Bracknell, and I also took part in the National Citizen Service (NCS) during my summer after my last year of secondary school. During NCS me and a team of around ten worked together to create and organise our own advocacy for dementia awareness. I do these things partially because I enjoy helping others, but I will be honest in saying that a large factor in it is so that it will boost my CV for when I apply to Thames Valley Police Force.

I volunteer for Thames Valley Police because for a long time now I’ve wanted to work as a police officer, and I believe that being a member of the Police Cadets will help me with the skills and qualities needed for that role. So many other benefits have come from being a Police Cadet that I couldn’t have got anywhere else. I have made many friends with similar interests and passion for policing as myself, been given opportunities to visit places I would otherwise likely not see, and the cadets has even set up a level two qualification which is incredibly useful.

Finally, I would like to take this chance to thank the staff for putting in many hours voluntarily to allow us this experience, and to TVP in general for authorising it, as I believe it is helping many of us youths. Lastly congratulations to Jamie Dearing for winning Thames valley cadet of the year, he works hard and he deserved it in my opinion.

               To find out more about becoming a cadet please visit our website

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

I had always enjoyed dealing with neighbour disputes

Paul Swannell

I’m not sure whether I volunteered or whether I was press-ganged into working with TVP when I finished 7 years’ service as a PCSO in Newport Pagnell at the age of 61. I had always enjoyed dealing with neighbour disputes; something that most of my colleagues avoided like the plague. I suppose that having studied psychology at college and having been a former school teacher I was used to trying to sort out various issues and rifts.

I was asked by PC Dave Goodwin who runs the Anti-Social Behaviour team in Milton Keynes whether I would be interested in joining his small team and doing some mediation/ intervention work and that’s what I do. I have been in this role since September 2015 and deal with low level ASB cases which are given for consideration and approval from either officers, PCSOs or from Milton Keynes Council Housing team. Although the role was especially designed for me and is unique to MK, I know other areas within Thames Valley are interested in developing similar roles for volunteers. I can certainly recommend such a position. 

I work about 25 hours a month but obviously have to visit clients when it suits them. I enjoy the role very much working with a lively, humorous team at the Council. It gives me the opportunity too to work in conjunction with former police colleagues to try and resolve issues. In this way I still see myself as being part of the great policing family.

I have always believed (especially coming from a strong scouting background) that if you care and can help somebody live and lead a better life then you have done a good job. The police needs to be seen as such a service and that is how I see my role as a volunteer.

Helping the public in Sonning Commom

Mike Brennan, Front Counter volunteer

I started volunteering with Thames Valley Police in April 2002 after being approached by someone from Henley Police Station through Neighbourhood Watch who indicated they planned to open Sonning Common to the public, manned by volunteers.

I had been involved in the mid 90s in a Thames Valley Partnership arrangement in which TVP undertook to reform Neighbourhood Watch and so I had got to know many police officers at Reading, Sulhamsted, Slough etc.

My wife and I became co-ordinators for some 12 front counter volunteers at Sonning Common who after a years’ training at Henley Police Station opened to the public in 2004. The number of volunteers increased to 20 and we opened Monday to Friday from 10.00 to 17.00.

The principal satisfaction is being able to provide a link between the Police and members of the village community and getting to meet and socialise with the other volunteers.

Very proud parents!

Lesley Matthews, Puppy Socialiser

I applied to be a puppy socialiser for Thames Valley early last year, I attended our first open day with my husband, we signed up that day, within 6 weeks we were in Sulhamstead to pick up Ghost a mere 7 weeks old. 

Nothing prepared us for the sleepless nights, the only way to describe this process is, it’s like a child. The baby phase sleepless nights, toilet training, naughty toddler, chewing things, generally trying to push your buttons, then teenager with lots of attitude, totally destroying the garden, eating every flower pots contents, and ripping trees apart.

However all said and done, we wouldn’t change a thing, Ghost was returned to the dog section to start training with his instructor at 10 months. He is a sensible, well rounded young dog, with a great need to work and please. He is excellent with other dogs, loves children and was socialised everywhere possible. We trained him to want his ball, so he has plenty ball drive for rewarding him for his good work, training with bite work, and releasing of course. He is very good at tracking, and speaking on command and I’m confident he will pass his course with flying colours, where we will be there to see him pass out! Very proud parents!

We volunteer to do this as we live in Hampshire and it’s a Joint Operations Unit, I am at home all day, my children are at school, it gives me time, where I can make a difference. People often say, why do it? We do it, to put something back into society, we have the time and the energy, and I think so far we are good at it so why not, it’s hard work but very satisfying.

I am currently looking after one of our young ladies who has been sold and awaiting to go to her new home in a few weeks, then we shall await our next challenge and do it all over again and again.

We have lots of different volunteering roles across the Force. 
Have a look at our website to find out more information.

Monday, 6 June 2016

You will make life-long friends and amazing memories

Special Sergeant Lewis Merritt  

I work for Thames Valley Police as a Station Duty officer and have also been volunteering as a Special for a little over three years.

Initially, my plan was to join the regulars after a few years within the Special Constabulary. I saw it as a way of broadening my skills and life experiences, but in a way that was tailored towards the role I wanted. I think anyone would be lying if they didn’t say that driving around on blue lights, catching criminals wasn’t appealing either...

I find that being able to “switch off” is incredibly difficult. You will learn to look at situations differently to others in the community, and you will learn how to deal with incidents in the safest way. Even off duty, you may find yourself stopping at RTC’s, making sure everyone is safe, giving first aid, implementing road closures. The trick with this is to identify the best response and remember you are off duty. Sometimes, it’s best to just stand back, take note of what is happening, and be an expert witness.

I think my first two shifts were allocated to policing the night-time economy in Wantage town centre. I seem to recall speaking to lots of different members of the community those nights, and having to pull people apart and stop them fighting. My first arrest came a few weeks after, and was for possession with intent to supply. I was overjoyed that my first arrest was for possession with intent to supply, and got into the local papers.

You get immense pride at the end of each shift, knowing you have made a positive difference to people’s lives. You are in a position of trust, and where as an Officer you get increased rights and powers; with those comes increased responsibility. I also find when people say “thank you”, it goes a long way. In essence, it could be considered “just a job”, but when you invest a lot of time and energy in keeping people safe, it’s very nice to get thanks.

If I was going to give advice to anyone thinking of joining, I would say go for it! As long as you are able to dedicate 18 hours a month, then I would say give it a go. 

At times, the role is challenging and incidents don’t end well, but you get immense pride in doing your best. You will join a great and dedicated team of Special Constables, and Police Officers in general, and you will make life-long friends and amazing memories.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

It is quite literally a job like no other, always expect the unexpected!

Special Constable Russell Chopping

Whether any of my fellow student officers would have admitted it or not, it’s the one thing we'd all been thinking about since the first day of training. The first arrest.  The final part of the training.  Putting everything we'd learnt into practice, and quite frankly, not fluffing it up!

So on my 3rd shift fresh out of training still with no first arrest, it was with a sense of nerves, anxiety and excitement that my mentor officer and I made our way to a reported shop lifting incident at a local supermarket.  Never being one to ever over dramatize a situation It was with more na├»ve surprise that on arrival at the location we didn’t find a full scale riot ensuing and in actual fact was met with a rather pleasant and chatty suspect detained without particular complaint by the store staff. 
Theft is an offence that is far too common in our communities. It doesn’t matter if its theft from a multi-billion pound business or from a small family run store, theft is still an offence. Following a brief discussion with the store manager and the suspect in question, it quickly became apparent that an arrest would be the most suitable course of action.  Removing the suspect from store would most definitely prevent any further issues and allow us to establish the exact identity of our suspect, which was still in some question.

Having cautioned my suspect (and not fluffed it up… Yeayyyy!!!) we decided against using handcuffs and walked our prisoner to the car.  At this point I'm in full police officer mode.  I've anecdotes of escaping prisoners whirling through my head and the words of our instructors ringing in my ears; "Never let your prisoner escape! it can be very embarrassing to explain back at the station".   I'm fully expecting confrontation,  I'm fully expecting force to be required, I'm fully expecting to be in a difficult and challenging situation, again, maybe over dramatizing a bit…

What I did not expect was the incident to develop into a full medical emergency.

Within a few minutes of securing ourselves for the journey to custody, our prisoner's demeanour quickly began to change.  From being relatively chatty and accepting of the situation, to being very drowsy and at times fully unresponsive, the medical training we've received only weeks before came flooding back to me.  Keep the patient talking, consider recovery position, and monitor breathing, request assistance.  On arrival at custody it was now becoming a real challenge for the person to even stand. 

Flagging my concerns to the custody sergeant we quickly engaged the onsite medical team. 

The prisoner has now become a patient.

In the blink of an eye our role changed from law enforcement to medical care.  The prisoner was clearly having a medical emergency. Having put a call into South Central Ambulance Service, I then began working with the medical team to make the patient comfortable and ensure the airway remained open - recovery position.

The Paramedic crew arrived without delay, and we all worked seamlessly together to transfer the patient to the waiting vehicle.  I supported the crew on the journey to the local A&E and assisted where required to restrain the patient.  The crew confirmed this was an overdose scenario, and the administration of appropriate medication had an immediate and dramatic effect.

I then found myself working to ensure the safety of the medical team, calming the patient where I could and restraining as appropriate to make sure we all remained safe.  Rushing straight into A&E resus, the mood changed once again.  The brilliant medical team were their instantly. Assessing the situation quickly and professionally administering further treatment. 

And with that, our role changes back to one of law enforcement.  The patient was still our responsibility and so it remained for the next 6 hours whilst we waited for the outcome of the treatment and for our replacement's to arrive so we could grab that much needed cup of tea and of cause my all-important bed.

It struck me that within the blink of an eye and without me even noticing, over a period of a couple of short months I'd changed my role from Dad, Husband and IT technologies manager to a student Special Constable to an Attested Constable under the Crown, to a Medical Provider working to protect life. 

As a Special Constable for Thames Valley Police I had rather naively anticipated we would simply be supporting the amazing regular officers, fetching and carrying, a supporting role to the real work of policing.  How wrong could I have been?  Specials are there to be an integral part of the team.

It's challenging work and not for all of us, I've a long way to go on my journey, but I can honestly say hand on heart I've never ever done a job so genuinely rewarding.

It is quite literally, a job like no other, always expect the unexpected!

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Battling climate change and battling crime

Special Constable Jemma Howland

If you asked my children when they were younger what I did for a job the reply would have been ‘my mummy saves the planet’. If you were to ask them now, they would say ‘my mum manages energy and environmental projects’, but this would be quickly followed up by ‘she is also a Special Police Officer in Wantage’. I think my kids are really proud of both my jobs and are of an age where they understand my two roles. My teenager, who is going through the ‘grunt stage’ of communication, does manage to say ‘stay safe’ when I go out policing. Parents of teenagers will appreciate the significance of these two words strung together!

I am like a stick of seaside rock – I have been in the same job for over 20 years – my hubby jokes that the name of the company I work for can be seen through the middle of me. I work for Ricardo Energy & Environment, which is an international private consultancy firm in the field of energy and environment. We assist governments and private clients worldwide to solve complex environmental challenges in areas such as energy, climate change, sustainable transport, waste management, resource efficiency, air quality and chemical risk. 

I am a project manager specialising in energy and climate change projects. The value of projects I manage range from £3,000 to £10 million. My role, in a nutshell, is to ensure projects are completed to time, budget and to the satisfaction of the customer. Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? But it requires strong communication, listening and negotiation skills; and having the ability to manage diverse teams, make quick decisions and constantly multitask. All good transferable skills to my Special Police Officer role.

I currently manage a team of 33 external consultants with a portfolio of over 100 energy-related projects that have been part-funded by the UK Government. Many of my conversations with these team members start with them asking me ‘how do I do…” and I advise them of the process and procedure – I am a newbie Special Police Officer and I now find myself regularly asking the same question on my way to jobs with my tutors. On a monthly basis, I review and approve over 25 project reports which detail how they are progressing. 

I am also responsible for a work package on a European Commission project to study energy efficiency fiscal policies. This involves developing a website, infographics and case studies. When I have spare time at work, I help with co-ordinating proposals, often writing the project management section, helping to select the team, pricing the work and ensuring the final proposal has been signed off by the commercial and finance team. 

When I first started my working life, I travelled to far-flung places like China and America, but these days my trips are mostly to the European Commission in Brussels. It is possible to leave Oxfordshire travel to Brussels for a meeting and return before the children go to bed. If I don’t come back home with a bag full of Belgium waffles my kids are very disgruntled.   

My day-to-day life at work revolves around email and meetings – face-to-face or by conference call. Most days I have 50 plus emails to wade through – sometimes it’s like a tsunami other days it’s like a mill pond. To keep us on our toes, we have annual targets to meet each year for revenue and ensuring a large proportion of our time is billable to a customer.  

Being a Special Police Officer is complementary to my day job in a very cheesy way – battling climate change and battling crime. I wouldn’t change either role for all the tea in china!

To find out more about how you can become a Special Constable for Thames Valley Police please visit our website.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Temporary Chief Officer for Special Constabulary

Jason Morley-Smith - Temporary Chief Officer for Special Constabulary

I have been part of the Special Constabulary with Thames Valley Police for the past 16 years. I am a natural volunteer having joined the St John Ambulance as a volunteer aged eight (and have been with them ever since).

I have always wanted to be a police officer, but because of the height restriction I was not eligible and once this was changed and height restriction removed, I applied to join the Specials.

My day job is in the NHS as the Lead Clinical Site Manager and Site Lead for the oldest hospital in London, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, where I am responsible for the whole hospital site and manage several clinical teams within the hospital.  My other volunteer role is as the District Clinical Manager (London Region) for Information Governance and Regulation of Healthcare Professionals, ensuring public protection and immediate care for those attending mass public events across London, so I guess I have a leaning towards the emergency services.

As chief officer I advise and work with the senior management team at TVP with regards the Special Constabulary, best practice, welfare, strategic direction and professional standards.

We try to take into account that specials put in 16 – 18 hours a month but might not always want to just work on Friday and Saturday nights in a town centre, so we have dedicated teams at Roads Policing bases and rural crime and within our domestic violence units. This enables people to learn a variety of skills.

We also have dedicated units at events such as the Reading Festival. Last year we had over 150 specials at Reading Festival policing the event and the team won the South East Regional Award for the Special Constabulary team of the year. This award is an annual competition between all 6 forces in the South East region, recognising the Special Constabulary, where either individuals or a team have “made a difference” or “contributed to wider community and policing engagements”. This award panel is chaired by the regional lead, an Assistant Chief Constable on behalf of the National Police Chief Council portfolio holder.

We are also teaming up with our police cadets to do the security detail for this year’s Force Open Day on 6 August....a huge and prestigious event where we are responsible for the safety of the public and the police.

Special Constable to Police Officer

When writing this blog Hayleigh Whelan's day job was a Designated Investigator for Thames Valley Police and she had been volunteering as a Special Constable for four years. She has now attested as a police officer.  

I joined the Special Constabulary because I like helping people especially when they need help the most, difficult times fall upon us all and sometimes bad choices are made. I like to be that person that helps put perspective back into people lives when they feel all hope is lost. I want to make sure criminals are not only dealt with for their crimes but rehabilitated.

The most challenging part of my role has been attending a sudden death. It can be quite daunting and this can play on your mind sometimes. There is no way of anticipating how the family will react but if I can offer any comfort at all during this extremely difficult time then it reassures them of the support available.  

My first job was going to an empty house which was up for rent in Yorkshire. The estate agents had called police as they could smell cannabis coming from inside. When we entered, we found the remains of what seemed to have been a cannabis factory.

An unexpected moment for me was my first arrest. It was text book and I did everything I was taught in training, from what I said down to the way I handcuffed the person. The person I arrested was compliant and stopped misbehaving once they realised what I was saying. I was full of adrenaline and was shaky at times but it didn’t show and my colleagues praised me for my work.

Finding missing people is the best thing about being a Special Constable. Adults and children go missing quite often and when they are found safe and well and returned to their loved ones, the feeling is overwhelming. Friends and relatives of the missing person are so thank full and happy.

I would advise anyone who is thinking of joining as a Special Constable to think about what they are committing themselves to. It’s not just about putting on a uniform, there is a lot of law to learn and you need to keep a good work and home life balance to ensure your welfare. This role is challenging but you will not get the experiences with any other job.

To find out more about becoming a Special Constable please visit our website.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Role-play is always interesting and provides me with another dimension to being retired

Alison Farrar, actor / role-player

I joined TVP as a volunteer nine years ago. While working at Loddon Valley Police Station helping in the local investigations office, I heard about role-play and decided to give it a go. I am so pleased I did. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity it offers to meet so many different people- the fellow role-players and students for whom we do the different scenarios.

Usually I try and do one role-play day a week, choosing from dates we are given in advance so we can select days convenient to us. Most days we work at Sulhamstead.

The day begins with each of us being given the role we are doing that day - sometimes we work in pairs, sometimes on our own. The assessor runs through with us how they would like us to play things - being helpful and compliant to the students, or maybe not.

The students are in the early stages of their training, and it is always surprising to see how quickly they become more confident and adept. With them being in uniform it was quite a shock the first time I was arrested - it felt so real I went cold inside. Now I am far more used to being searched, arrested, and taken into custody.

Over the years I have had all sorts of roles to do - I have had handbags stolen, lost children, husbands with Alzheimer's, and been the victim of minor car accidents and obnoxious neighbours. My criminal record grows ever longer!

I still enjoy working at Loddon Valley, and role-play is always interesting. It certainly provides me with another dimension to being retired. I have also made lots of new friends by doing this which is a real bonus.

For more information about the current volunteering roles we have available please visit our website.

Museum volunteer takes guests on a tour of the past

Ken Wells, Museum Volunteer

As a volunteer in the museum the job entails a bit of "multitasking" and involves giving outside talks to varies organisations, carrying out research enquiries (where members of the public have established a relative served in the police force) and showing visitors around the museum.

In relation to the talks, I do a total of four which includes the History of the Police and Scenes of Crime including photography and forensic, which is always well received. I am able to deliver this as I was a former Scenes Of Crime officer, and the remaining two are about two murders which happened several years ago. 

I suppose the most frequent organisations that visit must be the Women's Institute, followed by various History Groups. The research enquiries can be interesting especially when someone writes in telling us that their ancestor was a Chief Constable, and on one occasion I had to tell someone that their Great Grandfather only reached Constable 3rd class and was then dismissed with a "loathsome disease". When I spoke to that lady she quipped "I think we will forget all about him".

We look after many exhibits in the museum and I suppose the one which is of the most interest are those from the Great Train Robbery, which includes the Monopoly Board which the train robbers played with after the robbery. I actually took this on the Antiques Road Show where it was valued at £200 and when I returned to work we had offers of £3000. 

Recently Newbury Police Station celebrated 50 years and the museum was represented when the curator selected various items relating to Newbury, and they were put on display and I manned the stand we had been allocated. 

It certainly is a great job and I love it, as you are able to promote the force, and you meet many interesting people  who must enjoy it as we do receive many letters of thanks. 

I have now been connected to the police for 54 years, both as a police officer, civilian employee, and now a volunteer.

The Thames Valley Police museum is located at the White House, Sulhamstead. For more information, including how to arrange a visit, please see our website or follow @TVP_Museum.

Cadet to Deputy Commander

Chief Inspector Dave Gilbert
Deputy  Commander, Bracknell & Wokingham 

I joined the Metropolitan Police Force as a cadet when I was 18-years-old.

Back in 1984 the police cadets worked slightly differently to how they do nowadays. I was part of a new one year paid cadet scheme which was full-time and residential.

It was a great experience as it not only gave me the opportunity to learn about the core foundations of policing but it also enabled me to meet people from all walks of life, including my fellow cadets and members of the community.

As a unit we spent four months doing community service; two in a day centre for elderly people in High Gate and the other two months working in a school with young people with mental health issues.

One of the things I’ll never forget from my time in the day centre is being offered a drink by one of the elderly women and receiving a mug of methylated spirit. Needless to say I didn’t take her up on the offer!

My favourite thing about being a cadet was how physical it was, we used to play at least three sports a day and on one occasion we took part in the 7 Peaks Challenge in Wales. Relentlessly climbing up and down mountains for 12 hours was very character building and taught me never to give up.

After completing my year I applied to be an officer for Central London Police. The experiences I gained as a cadet was invaluable in helping me to secure this position and I guess the rest is history.

In 1997 I moved over to Thames Valley Police on promotion to Sergeant and have worked in various roles in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire since. In 2013 I was appointed commander for Bracknell local policing area and this year I became the deputy commander for the newly merged Bracknell and Wokingham area.

Being a police cadet was one of the best years of my life! I made loads of great friends and the knowledge and experience that I gained during this time set me on track to reach the position I’m in now where I’m lucky enough to have my own unit of cadets working for the LPA.

This is a brilliant scheme and the hours and commitment given by our cadets truly are amazing. I would recommend anyone who is in interested in policing to get involved and who knows, one day you could be sat where I am.

To find out more about the scheme and how you can become a Cadet or Cadet Leader visit our website.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The work volunteers put in is invaluable

Debie Pearmain

Debbie and Mary
I work in Police Licensing for the Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead areas. I look after around 1,300 licences with all the work that entails from test purchasing to organising the pubwatch meetings. 

Before the volunteers joined us I used to have take work home to get everything finished. I have volunteers who help me and reduce my stress levels.

One of our volunteers in Windsor, Mary supports the work we do for the 15 pubwatch and hotelwatch schemes in our area. She sends out reminder letters about meetings and ensures that the filing for all the licensed premises is kept up to date. Another volunteer, Mavis, goes to the venues reminding the staff of meetings and she ensures new licensees sign up for our meetings.

If licence holders don’t attend these meetings regularly then the ‘watch’ schemes can’t function properly. They are a means of meeting, exchanging information l of which aims to reduce violence and improve the night-time economy. The extra work Mavis and our other volunteers put in ensures most people attend and saves me hours and reduces my stress levels.

"I help the unit keep in touch with its community" - Mary Skelton

I am from Windsor and come from a nursing background but also have experience of running a probation hostel in the town. I joined a neighbourhood watch scheme and soon found I was volunteering to help deliver leaflets on crime prevention to local communities. I then became a volunteer and do two to three hours a week in the Police Licensing department for the Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead areas.

As a police support volunteer, my work with Thames Valley Police has included working on the 2012 Olympics, working with specials and now with Debie at the Licensing department where I spend three hours a week helping the unit keep in touch with its community, eg sending out reminder letters about meetings, helping keep records up to date and I have learned new computer systems.

I have a computer at home but the systems here are very different, I had good tuition and now feel confident to use the computers.

I volunteer because I have always worked and always worked many more hours than I was paid for whatever job I did. I like this because I usually come on a Monday and it starts my week.

Why volunteers matter

Superintendent Richard James
Neighbourhood Policing and Partnerships

I have been looking at how police can meet the needs of local communities in the future. Through my work it is clear the vital role that volunteers can play to help us do this.

I am delighted and grateful for the contributions made by so many members of our communities who dedicate their own time to help keep people safe

Thames Valley Police has established a strong Special Constabulary and launched Cadet schemes across Local Police Areas that provide valuable support.

We currently work with 500 Police Support Volunteers performing a wide variety of roles across the Force including volunteering at our police station front counters, helping people make their homes safer, working with the roads policing team, the licensing team, the cyber crime team, helping us improve access to information for members of the deaf community and through puppy socialising.

There are also examples of strong local collaborations with communities and businesses working together, but more needs to be done.

The Neighbourhood Watch schemes have almost 100,000 members, we know that faith and community groups are keen to work with us, and we are also approached by charitable groups and foundations offering to support us. We need to consider how we make best use of this available capacity in all that we do.

The challenge for the future is to better understand our needs and explore how volunteers may help us meet these through providing technical skills and expertise, managing local engagement, consultation and problem solving, tutoring, coaching and mentoring.

Volunteering Week is a great way to recognise and thank all those who work with us to build stronger communities with the active participation of our residents, businesses and partners.