The community work carried out by volunteers, police officers and police community support officers across Wiltshire and Swindon was recognised today at the first Neighbourhood Policing Awards presentation in Devizes.
The awards were set up by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson.
Mr Macpherson had been due to address the invited audience and present the awards. But he is recovering in the Royal United Hospital in Bath after collapsing a week ago while on an official engagement in Trowbridge.
In his absence, the awards were presented by the Chief Constable Pat Geenty.
Mr Geenty was a member of the judging panel together with Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott, Swindon Borough Council chief executive Gavin Jones, High Sheriff Peter Addington and Mr Macpherson.
Kieran Kilgallen, chief executive of the Office of the PCC, told the gathering: “If Angus was here today I am sure he would be telling you just what an important part volunteers play within the communities of Wiltshire and Swindon.
"Volunteering is something which Angus holds dear and being a volunteer himself in his very limited spare time he knows how fulfilling such work can be.
“Angus has been quite clear since being elected to office that volunteers have a huge role to play in helping him achieve the priorities he set out in his Police and Crime Plan.
“It is the commissioner’s belief that we, the residents of Wiltshire and Swindon, have to play an active part in our communities. So, for example, he has been extremely keen to encourage the development and growth of various watch schemes such as Community Speed Watch and Neighbourhood Watch.
“In other words, he believes what Robert Peel, the founder of British policing, said: ‘The police are the public and the public are the police’.
“The commissioner feels that the awards will draw attention to the good work that is done by volunteers. That attention should then hopefully motivate other people into stepping forward and giving some time to their community.
"The other benefit of the awards is that they provide an opportunity to recognise and applaud some of the excellent work that goes on.
“This is the 30th anniversary of Volunteers’ Week and charities and organisations across the country are taking the opportunity to thank the army of people who by, willingly giving their time, truly make a difference.
“Within the constabulary, volunteers are to be found in various guises; some wearing the uniform of the special constable and patrolling our streets; others wearing a high vis jacket as members of their local Community Speed Watch.
“Then there are those who are largely unseen such as Neighbourhood Watch volunteers or the Independent Custody Visitors who visit custody units unannounced to check on the welfare of detainees.”
Mr Geenty said he was delighted that Mr Macpherson was making progress in hospital and praised the commissioner for his initiative in setting up the awards and said they shared a commitment to harness the potential that volunteers have to offer.
The Chief Constable was pleased the Commissioner was saluting the work done by volunteers, not least the Special Constables, to help keep Wiltshire and Swindon safe. Mr Geenty was also grateful that the good work of police officers and PCSOs was being recognised.
The citations of the winners and runners-up are as follows:
Community Champion of the Year: PC Pete Jung (Wilton NPT) Nominated by a number of people, this award is presented for Pete’s enthusiasm, commitment and dedication as Community Beat Manager for Wilton Neighbourhood Policing Team.
Runner-up – James McDonald (Trowbridge NPT) Nominated by Trowbridge Town Council for his tireless efforts to reduce anti-social behaviour on the Longfield Estate, to improve the appearance of the neighbourhood, and to raise funds to provide activities for young people after school at weekends and during holidays.
The drop-in sessions at the community centre on Saturdays attract people of all ages and they come to use the computers, play pool or table tennis, to chat, to find advice on housing problems and job searches. It has helped to reduce isolation in this deprived area of the county town.
James has also masterminded the operation to raise funds for Weavers Drive, a sheltered housing scheme for older people, who suffered losses through a massive fire earlier this year. He is a true community hero.
Volunteer of the Year: Nigel Beaven (Woodborough).
Nominated by Woodborough Parish Council in recognition of his services to the community as the Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator. For the last 26 years he has tirelessly visited newcomers to the village, advising them on security and making them welcome.
He officially stepped down from the role last year, but continues to take a keen interest in keeping the village safe. He has accepted and coped with the rapid changes in technology which have altered his role over the years but has not allowed these advances to dampen his sincere, humane and outstanding devotion to the village where he has lived all his life.
Nigel quietly and unostentatiously goes about his selfless business; maintaining the churchyard, treating the wooden bench and keeping a close and affectionate eye on all around him. The ensuing and enduring popularity of Woodborough as a safe and tranquil place to live is testament to Mr Beaven's efforts over the years.
Runner-up – Valerie McLea (Royal Wootton Bassett CCTV team).
Val joined the Royal Wootton Bassett CCTV team 12 years ago to give something back to the community. She has been a regular volunteer since that time and completes between 800 and 950 hours of volunteering a year.
Val is always keen to support the police in the work that they do and is often asked to review CCTV footage in order to establish whether a crime has taken place. Through Val’s diligence she has helped to reduce petty damage to property within the town, and damage to Town Council assets in the playing fields.
She has also been responsible for a number of arrests for crimes committed in Royal Wootton Bassett. Not only does Val give her time to the CCTV suite but she also provides advice and inspiration to other members of the team in order that they may keep the town safe and as crime-free as possible.
Runner-up – Warminster CCTV team Nominated by Warminster Town Council for the assistance the team provide in monitoring CCTV footage on an average of 10 hours a day across Warminster, Westbury and West Wilts Trading Estate, including the night time economy.
The team jointly work with street pastors and local Pub Watch and Shop Watch members to support local intelligence and provision of data to assist with the Commissioner’s objectives. The safe passage of vulnerable people, particularly at night, is also a prime activity.
The volunteers provide a professional day to day operation as well as supporting the big events such as military parades, carnivals and street activities. The Town Councils of Warminster and Westbury could not provide this excellent CCTV operation without its dedicated team of volunteers.
Neighbourhood Policing Team of the Year Winner – Swindon Town Centre, Broadgreen, nominated by Broad Street Area Community Council.
Runner-up – Trowbridge NPT Nominated by both Hilperton Parish Council and North Bradley Parish Council for the swift response to requests for assistance and providing feedback on issues raised with the local team – a vital element of good customer service. Regular reports are provided to Parish Council meetings with the Community Beat Manager attending meetings, sometimes when off duty.
Runner-up – Malmesbury NPT Nominated for their pro-active approach to communicating with local people through the popular and effective use of Facebook, keeping hundreds of local residents up to date. This proved useful when Malmesbury experienced extreme weather conditions causing potential safety problems in November 2012. The NPT’s facebook page also warns about potential rogue door-to-door salesmen in the area.
The team understand the diverse issues relating to the rural and town environments and repeatedly demonstrate that they will work to address the causes of crime - and not just deal with crime itself. They do an outstanding job in their community area and engage regularly with community leaders.
PCSO of the year: Juliet Evans (South Marston/Highworth).
Nominated by South Marston Parish Council, Juliet sets a fine example for a Police Community Support Officer with her affable personality and friendly, confident manner.
Independent Custody Visitors
Commissioner Angus Macpherson has a statutory responsibility to operate an independent custody visiting scheme through which members of the community, who are recruited and trained, visit custody unannounced to check on the welfare of detainees and their conditions.
Independent Custody Visitors are volunteers and give their time freely to the scheme. During the last 12 months three custody visitors have left the scheme.
The Office of the PCC is publicly recognising the commitment and contribution they have made to the scheme by presenting them with certificates. They are Angela Mullens, Louise Myles, and Brock Trethowan.