Column for Herts and Essex Observer
The Police and Crime Commissioner has a fortnightly column in the Herts and Essex Observer. This is the first edition.

Let me take you back to 1830. Riots, which started in Kent, were spreading around the country, and there was a fear they may reach Hertfordshire. The Lord Lieutenant put in place a group of men who could protect the towns and villages should unrest break out. Fortunately they weren’t needed in the end, but this was the beginning of what is now known as the Special Constabulary.

Today, these volunteers work alongside regular full time police officers, and have full police powers available to them – including the power of arrest. They come from all walks of life and bring a range of skills to the policing family. They volunteer at least 16 hours a month and receive comprehensive training that enables them to be frontline police officers. As they build experience they can specialise in a number of areas and this is where they really come into their own.

You may remember earlier this year that the NHS suffered a crippling cyber-attack. Hospitals, including the Lister here in Hertfordshire, were severely disrupted – in some cases working in the pitch black and resorting to paper record keeping. A group of our Hertfordshire Special Constables with specialist cyber and technology skills mobilised and were at the Hospital within 2 hours of the attack. The team were instrumental in helping the hospital to get its systems up and running.  This was an incredibly difficult piece of work which the team dedicated their entire weekend to. Several officers returned to the hospital the next day to help out having been stood down by the police, such was their commitment to supporting their NHS colleagues.
People with these skills are vital to our policing operation, considering a growing amount of crime in Hertfordshire is committed online. An organisation like Hertfordshire Constabulary benefits enormously from their experience and Special Constables (and their regular employers) gain from the fantastic training they receive and the extra transferable skills they can use in their everyday lives.

That specific group of Specials who supported the Lister Hospital were honoured last week at an event celebrating Employer Supported Policing (ESP). The event showed businesses how they can help us, and their own workforce, to do more of this kind of work. It’s not just about frontline policing too – we have many ways to volunteer across the organisation, from independent custody visitors who inspect the cells and check on the welfare of detainees, to our dog visitors who make sure our police animals are looked after and in the best possible shape (which of course they are).

You can find out about all the ways to get involved and support Hertfordshire Constabulary at my website. Hopefully there’ll be something there which inspires you to get involved and help your community.

David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire