Today, on International Volunteer Day, we celebrate the incredible efforts of more than 500 volunteers at Sussex Police.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner said: “I am humbled and amazed on a daily basis by the work that our volunteers do, unpaid, and often unseen.

“Their efforts are truly appreciated, and I know that without many of our volunteers, our communities would be worse off, and less protected.

“The range of volunteer responsibilities, and efforts is incredible, and the way in which our volunteers go about it, with professionalism, enthusiasm and relentless commitment is admirable. Thank you for everything you do.”

We are proud of our volunteers who include Special Constables, Police Support Volunteers (PSVs), Volunteer Police Cadets and their leaders. Our volunteers also work across a wide range of areas in Sussex and include chaplains, Sussex Search Team, Community Speedwatch and Independent Custody Volunteers.

We would like to thank our partner agency volunteers who support policing in a wide range of activities across Crimestoppers, Sussex Resilience Forum and Citizens Advice Witness Service.

Our volunteers are an inspiration as they selflessly give up their time to work with us every day as we work to together to protect communities, catch criminals and deliver an outstanding service.

The pandemic has made volunteering more complicated. Whilst some of our PSVs have been able to stay engaged and restart their volunteering roles, others due to the nature of the roles have not been able to volunteer during this time but we are still thankful for the support they have given.

Chief Superintendent Howard Hodges, West Sussex Divisional Commander, said: “West Sussex has a strong tradition of utilising volunteers to support policing to keep our communities safe; epitomised by the volunteer team at Southwater who have staffed the office since 1996.

“In support of this it was my pleasure on 12 November to meet a number of volunteers and present them with certificates at a bespoke long service awards evening.

“The success of local policing relies upon the support, trust and confidence of the local community and we remain committed to increasing the number of our volunteers and to be innovative in how we can use them.”

Public Protection volunteer Yasmine Walters explained why she volunteers: “I recently graduated from the University of Brighton where I studied criminology. Volunteering has given me the opportunity to do something worthwhile in my spare time.

“I have become part of the policing family which is incredible. The team have been great supporting me every step of the way! I like the fact that although I am not working on the front-line, I’m still making a difference within Sussex Police and the surrounding communities.”

It is inspiring to see so many young people are volunteering their time and are committed to keeping their communities safe. Many of our regular events such as the annual cadets’ parade have had to be postponed, however this hasn’t stopped their involvement in contributing to national projects and they are thanked for their commitment and hard work.

Cadet Leader Daryl Holter in the Wealden area explains: “Of course the pandemic was challenging, we all had to find new ways of meeting every week, however this wasn’t an obstacle.

“Together we continued to meet online and complete a project for the National Volunteer Police Cadets and Historic England focussing on a Heritage Action Challenge.

“We met guest speakers online, researched online together and ultimately completed the challenge on time.

“For all of us leaders it’s so rewarding to be able to give back some of our knowledge and experience to the cadets. They certainly leave us far more confident and keen to follow their aspirations.

“We have great support from our command teams and are made to feel an integral part of the policing family.”

Special Constables have continued to provide a huge level of assistance to the force during the pandemic, facing policing challenges that we have never encountered before.

They provide another layer of resilience and enhance the roles of police officers and staff for the benefit of members of the community as public service is at the heart of what we do.

Julie Rainey, a Special Constable for more than seven years and who received a divisional commendation earlier this year, gives her highlights: “Although this sounds cheesy, almost every shift is a highlight.

“A stalking victim who’d lived in fear for more than 10 years called to say that she felt I’d really listened to her and that, for the first time, she thought she might be safer as a result. That felt good.

“Recently a colleague and I spent a number of shifts on very lengthy, detailed CCTV trawls to identify a suspect for a particularly nasty offence. Hearing that we’d managed to arrest them and they’d been remanded felt like a huge achievement as I knew that they wouldn’t be able to target other vulnerable women for a while.

“I already do a job I love, but equally want to be able to contribute my skills and work with amazing colleagues to help build a stronger community. Specialising in a safeguarding investigations role allows me to do both.”

Chief Constable Jo Shiner said: “I have nothing but admiration for the way in which our Specials give up their time to protect our communities and assist our frontline colleagues.

“Specials volunteer to put themselves in danger, often working whilst others are resting, in all weathers, and for no financial reward. Our Specials are all simply awesome and I am humbled by their contribution to keeping our county safe. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart – I am so very proud and grateful.”