Essex Specials among volunteers honoured with Queen's Award

Essex Police Specials getting ready for a patrol, November 2020

Essex Police Specials getting ready for a patrol, November 2020 - Credit: Essex Police

Four groups from Essex have been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services, considered the MBE for voluntary groups.

Essex Police Special Constabulary are among the winners.

They have 513 volunteers who provide almost 204,000 hours of volunteer policing for the communities of Essex.

The other award winners are Abberton Rural Training in Chelmsford which provides land based skills for vulnerable and isolated individuals and families in Essex; BATIAS Independent Advocacy Service which supports people with learning disabilities to have their voices heard in South and West Essex; and Citizens Advice Southend.

They are among 241 charities, social enterprises, and volunteer-led groups to receive the award this year.

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Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst, Lord Lieutenant of Essex, said the award is a "wonderful tribute to the outstanding work of the voluntary sector".

"The number of awards won across Essex speaks volumes for the excellence of volunteering in our county and the increasing importance of the work of volunteers for community wellbeing.

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"I am delighted that four extremely deserving groups, who are providing a wide range of services to our communities have been honoured by Her Majesty the Queen.

"I look forward to presenting the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services to each of the groups over the coming months, when the present restrictions allow, and to celebrate their success with their volunteers and many who receive their excellent service."

The award to Essex Police Special Constabulary includes a ‘special designation’ for providing impactful support during the early months of the pandemic.

During the last year’s lockdown, between March and June, the Special Constabulary volunteered over 54,000 operational hours, providing visible policing and helping communities.

In the year to May 31 2021, they volunteered a total of 207,552 hours to policing Essex, an average of 17,300 hours a month.

Superintendent Shaun Kane, head of Essex Police Special Constabulary, said: “For the Essex Special Constabulary to have won the QAVS 2021, has been a sense of gratitude, pride and inspiration.

"These feelings have reverberated across the entire volunteer service with the Special Constabulary’s dedication to the people and communities in Essex; committed to helping people, keeping people safe and catching criminals.

"To know that the support provided by our Specials has positively contributed to policing and people’s lives, has meant the world to be recognised in this way.

"A fantastic acknowledgement and achievement which reflects the positive culture being achieved, with Essex having the fastest growing Special Constabulary in the country, pushing the boundaries of inclusivity within the police service, and consistently demonstrating our values in community based policing. Thank You from us all."       

Essex Police's Special Constabulary is the second largest in the country.

Specials Deputy Chief Officer Derek Hopkins has been a Special for 41 years.

“Essex Police Special Constabulary is always here and officers are always wanting to do more. This weekend, several of them will be going to Cornwall to help with the policing operation surrounding the G7 Summit this month.

“When the pandemic hit, it was an opportunity for our volunteers to do even more and those who had been furloughed or made redundant looked to carry out extra duties.”

Long history

Essex Police Special Constabulary was formed just over a century ago. When World War I broke out in 1914, 150 of then then Essex County Constabulary's 450 officers joined the army. Other forces suffered similar decreases.

The Home Office introduced a team of 6,000 volunteers known as ‘Specials’ to boost the numbers of regular officers.

They wore a black and white striped armband to signify they were on duty. Over the years, the role has adapted and improved – Specials now have the same uniform, training, equipment and powers as regular officers.

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