Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner on the importance of public volunteers

PUBLISHED: 15:35 12 January 2016 | UPDATED: 15:35 12 January 2016

Martyn at last summer’s Emergency Services Day in Poole

Martyn at last summer’s Emergency Services Day in Poole


Martyn Underhill, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, explains the increasing importance of the role played by public volunteers in supporting our local police force

Policing relies on the co-operation and consent of the people. In Dorset we follow the Peelian policy ‘the police are the public and the public are the police’.

Volunteers give communities a voice whilst adding enormous value to public services. They bring in new skills, free up officers’ time and strengthen relationships. It is a complementary relationship for mutual advantage.

The policing family in Dorset includes 212 Special Constables and 206 police support volunteers. The roles range from CCTV operators and community messaging volunteers to Victim’s Bureau and Independent Custody Visitors. We also continue to receive support from over 1000 Watch Scheme coordinators and many partner organisations such as Dorset Search and Rescue and Wessex 4x4. However, there is scope to expand this further.

The Home Office has recently consulted on extending the powers of police volunteers. I support the Government’s vision to go further and enhance the role of volunteers. However, this approach should take into consideration the specific contribution volunteers can make. We should look at what skills and experience volunteers have and then balance these with the needs of the organisation. The Home Office proposals only currently seek to create volunteer positions that ‘mirror’ paid roles.

I support the Government’s drive to encourage those with skills in particular demand, such as specialist IT or accountancy skills, to assist the police to investigate cyber or financial crime, and help officers and staff fight crime more widely. I am also humbled that 1 in 10 people in our beautiful county do some form of volunteering or charity work. This work can be hugely rewarding and can also help to expand people’s knowledge and skill set. Volunteering in policing is no different.

The role of a Volunteer is designed to enhance the work of the police and provide additional support in the area where the volunteer lives or works. Volunteers are extremely important to Dorset Police – helping officers to develop, engage and interact more effectively with our local communities and keep them safe.

Policing may look different in the future due to a five year period of cuts, so arguably it is even more important for volunteers to play a greater role in policing our communities.

It is vital that we continue to invest in volunteering, as it is key to our success. It is a symbiotic relationship where volunteers and paid staff work side by side to deliver better policing and stronger safer communities.

For more details on volunteering and the roles on offer at Dorset Police, visit ‘A Career With Us’ volunteers section on the Dorset Police website or you can call 01305 226870 or email 


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