#MakeADifference – broadening the number of volunteers helping to keep your community safe
Three and a half years ago, you asked for more local, visible, accessible policing.
Roger Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) for Essex broadened the number of volunteers from your communities helping to keep people safe.
Mandy Chapman is just one of the Active Citizens volunteering in the community to help to lower crime and the fear of crime by interacting with the public.
Volunteering is one of the building blocks of success in Roger Hirst’s Police and Crime Plan for Essex. Roger made a commitment that he wanted the police to be part of our communities and for our communities to be part of the police by enabling more people to play an active role in keeping us safe.
Active Citizens is just one of the initiatives, which sees members of the public joining forces with the police. They can get involved in a wide range of work to assist, including running community days of action, patrolling with officers, providing reassurance and crime prevention advice and helping with administration tasks.
Mandy Chapman served with the Met Police for 30 years, spending most of her service as a PC dog handler.
On retirement from the force in 2013, she was able to commit time to her local Neighbourhood Watch, helping to reassure her neighbours who were comforted by seeing a former police officer patrolling the streets.
All of her experience came together when Mandy began working with the Essex Police Active Citizens team, helping to launch Dog Watch in the county.
She said: “It snowballed from there and I began volunteering.
“If I can be at a crime scene as an Active Citizen as just an extra pair of hands, eyes and ears that releases a police officer to do other things.”
Mandy completed an application form, was vetted and put on a list of Active Citizens available to be called upon when needed.
Active Citizens volunteer at events such as the Essex Young Farmers’ Show where they hand out leaflets, collect information from members of the public and answer queries. They are also called on to carry out door-to-door leaflet drops to share safety information and warnings.
Mandy said: “It is about being approachable. If we are manning a stand at a show, for example, we can put residents in touch with the right people for their particular issue. They will talk to us about all sorts of things. Some people just like to be able to come and chat to us. Quite often, it’s about giving that bit of reassurance.
“It is so rewarding. We are able to help officers and staff by relieving some stress from them. You are giving your time and they appreciate what you are doing for them. For me, it feels good to still be of use and to be able to help people. There is no set commitment; you give the time as and when you can.
“Essex Police is a family. From the top down, the way it is led and the way people are; it is all part of one family. The PFCC is an extension of that.
“My message to the people of Essex is to not sit back and moan; give up your time and help. There is so much you can give to your community and to Essex.”
For more information about Active Citizens, click here.