The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) held its first-ever Volunteers Recognition event on 28 September. The event saw 23 volunteers from the Stop and Search and Use of Force scrutiny panel, Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs), and a Restorative Justice volunteer have their efforts celebrated at a ceremony at Bedfordshire Police Headquarters.
The Police and Crime Commissioner, Festus Akinbusoye, opened the event by thanking the volunteers for their hard work and explaining that their work makes a difference to policing in Bedfordshire. The Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Ian Dalgarno, congratulated the volunteers and spoke about the impact that the volunteers have on our local community.
Mr Dalgarno said: “Volunteering is a critical role and each one of our volunteers play an important part in improving accountability and public confidence in policing. They are the crucial eyes and ears of residents and, as a ‘critical friend,’ help the Police and Crime Commissioner hold the Chief Constable to account. Together, we are all aiming for an outstanding policing service. This event is part of our way of saying thank you for the dedication and commitment of all our volunteers, as they continue to give up their valuable time to support the work of the OPCC.”
The Lord Lieutenant, Susan Lousada, was also present to support the event, to explain her role as His Majesty’s representative in Bedfordshire, and show her thanks to the volunteers. The Lord Lieutenant presented 9 special awards, highlighting specific examples of where volunteers had gone above and beyond.
The volunteers included those who provide independent scrutiny of the use of Stop and Search and Use of Force across Bedfordshire and work to improve the community’s confidence and trust in the police. The panel members review body worn footage and provide feedback that is reported back to the officers involved, based on a traffic light grading system against both delivery of the legal requirements and their manner and tone in dealing with people.
Other volunteers were Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) who are members of the local community who call at Bedfordshire Police Custody Suites unannounced at any time. The ICVs check on the welfare of people detained in custody by the police to see the conditions in which they are being held and to ensure their rights are being observed. Their work provides the PCC and local communities with assurance that anyone held in police custody is treated fairly and has access to appropriate facilities.
The Deputy Chief Constable (DCC) from Bedfordshire Police, Dan Vajzovic, and Community Policing teams were in attendance alongside Custody Inspectors. DCC Dan Vajzovic said “I was honoured to be part of the awards ceremony alongside our incredible volunteers. Their dedication, enthusiasm and commitment is exemplary and thoroughly deserves to be recognised.
“Without them as our critical friends, we wouldn’t be able to improve and give constructive feedback to our officers. Their work enables us to make better policing decisions and is invaluable in shaping our scrutiny processes going forward.
“I’d like to also thank the OPCC for arranging the event and I look forward to continuing these types of celebrations”.
If you’d like to find out more about becoming a volunteer please contact us by email or visit our website.