Michelle Francis, Citizens in Policing Manager provides her insight into the volunteering world here at Wiltshire Police.

When you think of volunteering you might think of voluntary sector organisations, schools, sports clubs and charities, but generally people don't automatically associate volunteering with police.

The police service has always been an advocate of volunteering right back to the introduction of special constables in the 1800s, and modern day policing really benefits from the diversity and variety that volunteering brings with it. However I think people are still really surprised when we talk about it or advertise volunteer roles. Most people don't think it would be possible to volunteer in a policing environment, but then we start to tell them more and they often become really interested in how they can be involved.

Today volunteers in policing are incorporated into our Citizens in Policing Team (CiP) along with special constables, watch schemes and cadets.

Although I have been with Wiltshire Police for 30 years I have only been with the CiP team since February, and have to admit that getting to know our volunteers has been a humbling experience.

I am in awe of these people who give their time for the benefit of others, those who start their volunteer role once their 9-5 is over.

As a Force I think we are really lucky that we can offer so many opportunities we currently have 167 volunteers working with us in 18 different roles, along with 219 special constables and 105 cadets.

Each individual has their own reason for volunteering, whether that is to give back to the community, share their skills and knowledge or gain new experiences. Volunteering is very much a two way process, we understand that people are giving us so much, and whether it is to make friends, feel part of a team, enhance a CV or work capability, it is important to us as a team and as a Force that we support that.

Whatever role a volunteer takes on they are giving their time to the Force and our communities, so we need to provide them with really strong opportunities and support adding value where it counts.

We have volunteers who give anything from one hour every few weeks to those who give up sixteen hours plus a month.

I think the one thing I have really learnt over the last few months is to never underestimate our volunteers.

These are not roles anyone takes on lightly but they are roles that add real value to the work the Force are doing and have a real impact within our communities.

We have specials constables who every day support officers in our Community Policing Teams out on the frontline. Cyber experts who give advice and help to educate those most vulnerable in our community. Restorative Justice volunteers who help victims of crime at what could be the most difficult time of their lives, supporting them to meet with perpetrators of crime and find a way to move forward. Volunteers who share their language skills helping members of our community get the help they need, volunteers who give their feedback and advice helping to shape our services, and those who seek to educate their communities to help keep them safe.

We are always welcoming new volunteers, whether that is through the roles we advertise or people offering their skills, so if you are looking for a new challenge I would urge you to have a look at our website and come and volunteer in a unique environment unlike any other.

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