Our vibrant volunteering programme includes members of Surrey’s communities from diverse backgrounds who collectively offer their valuable knowledge, skills, and experience to the Force and my office.
Young people can join the policing family from as young as 13 as a volunteer police cadet, from the age of 16 as a police support volunteer and the age of 18 as a special constable (or volunteer police officer). With no upper age limit for volunteering, many of the Force’s volunteers have a long service history and their commitment and contribution are hugely valued.
Our Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) have continued to provide an essential service in the county over the last year by giving up their time to check on the welfare and treatment of people held in custody. ICVs are volunteers who visit police stations at random, in pairs, and speak to detainees in Surrey’s three custody suites in Guildford, Staines and Salfords to ensure police processes are open to independent scrutiny.
Volunteers must be over the age of 18 and live, study or work within the Surrey policing borders. Although the management and oversight of the scheme is a statutory responsibility of the PCC’s office, our ICVs are entirely independent from the police and come from a variety of backgrounds and sections of the community. Covid-19 naturally presented a real challenge to custody visiting, and thankfully 2021/22 saw a progressive return to business as usual for our volunteers.
The scheme currently has 41 Surrey residents involved, and during 2021/2 they volunteered over 300 hours of their time visiting custody on 98 separate occasions. During these visits, the ICVs directly checked on the welfare of 458 detainees, ensuring their rights and entitlements (as laid out in law) were being met and the conditions in which they were held satisfactory.
The HMIC inspection of Surrey’s custody in late 2021 congratulated the scheme and the Force on their close and beneficial relationship and strong oversight, noting “the force is open to external scrutiny, and the independent custody visitors (ICVs) have good access to the suites and visit each site weekly. Custody staff respond quickly to any problems raised and this is monitored by the chief inspector and the ICV scheme manager”.
Special Constables (volunteer police officers)
The Special Constabulary has continued to provide crucial support to policing teams across Surrey over the last year. Surrey’s special constables collectively volunteered over 42,000 hours in 2022/23.
Most special constables are integrated within Neighbourhood Policing Teams and Safer Neighbourhood Teams, providing valuable support to help ensure their communities are safe and feel safe. In addition to these core roles, special constables also volunteer in specialist areas such as roads policing, drone piloting, public order and professional standards.
Police Support Volunteers
Police Support Volunteers can be found within policing teams across the county and the Force continues to develop new opportunities. During the last year, Surrey Police has welcomed new volunteers into roles including vehicle maintenance, safer neighbourhoods, fraud prevention, chaplaincy and the newly formed Ethics Committee. The Community Events Team of volunteers continues to provide a police presence at events across Surrey, providing positive engagement with communities.
Volunteer Police Cadets
Surrey’s Volunteer Police Cadet Scheme offers young people a safe environment in which they can learn new skills, develop positive relationships with the police and actively support their community.
Young people from any background are welcomed into the scheme, including those who may have previously been in trouble with the police or may feel disconnected from their peers or community.
Cadets commit to a programme of learning and volunteering activity within their communities. Over the last year, Cadets have supported charity, community and policing events across the county and have continued to support police-led test purchase operations by attempting to purchase age-restricted items such as knives and alcohol.
Over the last year, the Force has offered short-term volunteering options such as work experience and placements which provide a unique insight into policing. Due to the popularity and success of these opportunities, they will be integrated into the Force’s volunteering programme in the future.
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