In 2012 Alan Hardwick, Lincolnshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC), set Lincolnshire Police the challenge of increasing the numbers of policing volunteers to 1,000 by April 2016. The PCC’s office and Lincolnshire Police together committed £50k of funding that was matched by NESTA, an innovation charity, with another £50k to work in partnership with Voluntary Centre Services (VCS) and our sister organisation LCVS and the Police’s partner G4S, to create a range of new volunteering opportunities, to develop and improve the support given to volunteers and to increase recognition of the valuable contribution they make to their teams and the wider community. The project ran from May to December 2013.
New ways to meet the needs of Lincolnshire’s communities
The project aimed to find innovative ways to use the diverse talents of local people to add value to the work of the Police. It was not just about increasing numbers of volunteers supporting the Police: we wanted to match volunteers to operational and organisational needs, and to use their skills, interests and experience in roles to which they are most suited. A series of public consultation events were used to explore the volunteer roles that may be created to meet the needs of local communities, for example the new role of Bilingual Advocate in police stations in areas with a large number of people for whom English is not their first language. Fluent speakers of other languages will be available at publicised hours in local police stations, acting as a first point of contact for people to come in and report concerns and make complaints or enquiries. By advertising this service in the community, we hope to encourage greater engagement between the Police and all of the varied communities that make up the diverse population of Lincolnshire.
Improving Police Volunteers’ experience
The project wasn’t just about increasing numbers: it was about improving the experience of police volunteers, from recruitment, through induction and with ongoing training and support. This improvement process also included new volunteer management training to police officers and staff, using volunteer centres to broker new volunteering opportunities and develop the support infrastructure to cope with the increased number of volunteers that the project will attract.
This high-profile piece of work attracted a great deal of interest from the Home Office and the Association of Chief Constables, who are still reviewing whether this model could be rolled out in other areas of the country. Some of the project team’s blogs are available on the VCS website, sharing their learning and experience throughout the project, as this is the first time that such an ambitious engagement between the public and voluntary sectors had been attempted in Lincolnshire.
For more information about this project, please contact Jennie Eaton, Business Development Officer firstname.lastname@example.org