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Police plea for employers to help boost the front line

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Police are urging employers across the county to sign up to a scheme that supports their staff to volunteer as police constables.

Martin Doughty is a Special. (11779315)
Martin Doughty is a Special. (11779315)

Employer Supported Policing (ESP) asks employers to promote the role of the Special constable in their organisation, while granting those who do sign up additional leave days to help them meet duty commitments.

In return, the organisation will benefit from staff who have received a unique training package, worth several thousand pounds and covering a wide range of skills, many of which are transferable to the workplace.

Specials are unpaid volunteers with full police powers who agree to dedicate a minimum of 16 hours a month to training or operational duties. They often find this time outside of working hours but family commitments and other outside interests can lead to volunteers reluctantly deciding to leave the service after a few years.

Martin Doughty at work. (11779339)
Martin Doughty at work. (11779339)

The call for more organisations to join ESP comes as hundreds of events take place for National Volunteers’ Week. The annual week was established in 1984 and recognises the contribution volunteers make to communities every day.

Head of the Special Constabulary Vic Kerlin said ESP benefited for both employer and Special, who enjoyed and gained great benefits from their policing work.

He said: “ESP is a powerful staff development opportunity that more than 250 organisations throughout the UK have already recognised, including well-known private, public and third sector employers in the eastern region.

“Many police forces across the region currently have high levels of recruitment of regular officers but this makes Specials recruitment more difficult as many people who might consider the Specials are drawn directly into regular roles.

“ESP is especially important at this time as many of the people who join the Specials under ESP already have careers outside policing and see the Specials as a place that they can gain skills, support their community and do something really important alongside their day job.”

One organisation signed up to ESP in Cambridgeshire is the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Hinxton, Cambridge, which is at the cutting-edge of genome and bioinformatics research.

Dr Martin Dougherty, the institute's Chief Operating Officer, who is a Special in Cambridgeshire, said: “The time and effort that you put in as a Special is rewarded 10-fold by the sense of well-being that you're making a contribution to society. It’s about making those real life decisions that have an impact and help people on the spot.

"If you do your job well, the regulars are very welcoming and you feel like you're making a difference supporting them.

"The voluntary sector in the UK is key to community cohesion - coaching at sports clubs or getting involved in parish councils - these are important roles in society with great benefits and being a Special is no different."

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