A GROUP of 158 women and men aged between 18 and 70 years, all serving special constables, has been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
South Wales Police’s Special Constabulary is a unique organisation which has integrated well with the regular force. It has increased the hours it volunteers each year by 500% (52,606hrs), and ensures this contribution now targets demand.
Its work has attracted interest from forces across the country. The group is made up of 38 women and 120 men and 17 of its volunteers have served for over 10 years with its longest serving male and female volunteers having served over 36 years and 29 years respectively.
It provides high visibility policing within its communities, responding to thousands of emergency calls, bringing thousands of offenders to justice, and safeguarding thousands of vulnerable people.
It has partnered with NHS paramedics to deploy a Joint Response Unit, attending incidents which require a police and ambulance response e.g. mental health crisis, vulnerability etc. This initiative saw a 20% reduction in demand for both services.
It is a key contributor to the Swansea Help Point – a partnership with St John Ambulance, Street Pastors and the NHS which keeps people safe during a busy night-time economy.
As a result of its success, most people cannot differentiate its volunteers from full-time police officers. However, Special Constables represent the police within their communities whilst representing their community within the police.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen our communities facing unprecedented challenges. The police service has had to work tirelessly to keep the public safe through education, engagement and enforcement of constantly evolving rules and restrictions, whilst also ensuring essential services continue to function as increasing numbers of employees were absent due to the virus. In response to this, the group has now volunteered over 80,000 hours since the lockdown measures were introduced. This placed them at high risk of contracting the virus and without hesitation they selflessly placed public service before their own health and that of their families.
South Wales Police Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan: “I am delighted that the work of our Specials has been acknowledged in the presentation of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
“It is well deserved and recognises the contribution the Special Constabulary makes to the communities of South Wales – particularly in respect of the tireless work they have all given to the police service while dealing with the pandemic.
“Between them, the group has now volunteered over 80,000 hours since the start of the first lockdown. This placed them at high risk of contracting the virus and without hesitation they selflessly placed public service before their own health and that of their families.”
Dale Cartwright, Chief Officer for South Wales Police Special Constabulary said: “I am delighted that our Special Constabulary has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service — the MBE for volunteer groups.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have such committed and capable people who give so much to us in order to help keep South Wales safe. This award is testament to their hard work and is fitting recognition of how they have gone above and beyond, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
South Wales Police Special Constabulary is one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.