Making our communities safer

Posted on the 3rd April 2018

Greater Manchester Police’s Citizens in Policing programme enables the Force to strengthen relationships with the communities of Greater Manchester. It provides opportunities for community involvement in policing, whether as special constables, police support volunteers, volunteer police cadets or active citizens, such as Neighbourhood Watch.

Citizens in Policing supports the Force in helping to reduce crime, enhancing service delivery, and increasing trust and confidence in the police service. This goes back to the ‘Peelian’ principle of policing - ‘the police are the public and the public are the police’.

Volunteering with the police: A unique opportunity

Young people can join as a volunteer police cadet and learn about policing and crime while taking part in various social action projects. Police support volunteers provide a range of office and community-based support functions. Special constables provide an additional, visible, operational police resource.

GMP’s volunteers are motivated and committed. For example, GMP’s 447 special constables contributed 130,524 hours of volunteer duties in 2017 and their 105 police support volunteers contributed 11,620 hours of their time.

The 387 volunteer police cadets volunteered around 48,762 hours in 2017 by attending cadet group weekly and volunteering on many projects out in the community, ranging from litter picking, visiting people in residential homes, or raising money for local charities.

A photograph shows two police officers at the One Love concert in Manchester in 2017

Greater Manchester Police Special Constables at the One Love concert in June 2017.

How do volunteers help?

They provide a wealth of experience, knowledge and skills. Cadets enable improved engagement with young people, and allow the Force to learn about issues affecting them. Special constables and police support volunteers bring in their paid work experience and skills, not to mention life skills.

GMP uses their experience, skills and knowledge to best effect, for example, their communication skills at community events, their language skills to support policing, or more recently involving volunteers that have specialist, niche expertise to volunteer alongside the Cyber Support Team.

There is a wide variety of reasons why people volunteer within the police. Some want to make a difference in their community. Some may want to learn and gain valuable transferable skills. Some have spare time and feel it’s a worthwhile opportunity. Others may see it as a potential career path into the organisation (either as a member of police staff or as a police officer).

A photograph shows a Greater Manchester Police officer embracing a member of the public at the One Love concert in Manchester in June 2017

A Greater Manchester Police Special Constable and a member of the public at the One Love concert in Manchester, June 2017

Beneficial for all

Volunteering with GMP is a positive two-way experience. Every volunteer gets something different out of it – whether it’s greater confidence, a sense of wellbeing, being part of a team or improving skills and knowledge.

GMP has a team of citizens helping them to reduce crime and enhance service delivery which leads to safer communities.

Many special constables and police support volunteers report the benefits of volunteering in both their current career and promotion prospects, or for their future employability, which in turn has a positive effect on Greater Manchester communities.

A photograph shows two police support volunteers during Greater Manchester Police's Volunteers' Week 2017

Two Police Support Volunteers - Tracey and Mo - during Volunteers' Week 2017.

Engagement with local businesses is also important, and the Employer Supported Policing (ESP) scheme is a partnership between businesses, employees and the police service which allows their staff who are special constables or police support volunteers paid leave to volunteer within the communities they serve.

GMP actively promotes ESP to employers across the region as part of their corporate social responsibility plans, and has ESP agreements with 35 employers, providing time for 124 specials. GMP also commits to the ESP scheme, allowing staff who are specials and police support volunteers additional paid leave to undertake duty and/or training in their voluntary role.

Volunteer opportunities within the public sector, specifically within policing, allow local citizens to really become engaged, and participate in making their neighbourhoods a safer place to live, work and study, which can only reap benefits for all involved.

Tina Shelton

Regional Citizens in Policing Coordinator, Greater Manchester Police

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