Long service recognised by Chief Constable
Virtual ceremony honours work of volunteers and Special Constables
The work of special constables and volunteers has been recognised by Devon and Cornwall Police, with a virtual ceremony.
Hosted by the Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, the citations for the Special Constabulary were read out by Specials Chief Officer Marc Kastner and Emma Webber, Citizens in Policing Coordinator, read the citations for the volunteers.
While the work of several individuals has been recognised, so has the work of a team working with those experiencing mental health problems.
Volunteer Long Service Awards
Aran Richardson, whose work as a volunteer chaplain has been recognised, joined Devon and Cornwall Police in 2009, having previously been a police constable with the Hertfordshire Constabulary between 1997 and 2002.
In his chaplaincy role, he supported many people, including officers in response, custody, neighbourhoods, CID, admin and even the cleaning crew and anyone involved under the roof of Heavitree Road Police Station.
He has been an absolute star on the team, not only delivering pastoral care but being incredibly thoughtful on how his analytic mind is able to support the chaplaincy in other ways, such as being part of the ethics committee and helping the force to talk through some of its most complicated and sensitive ethical dilemmas.
Although he later relinquished his weekly commitments in the role, opening up that position for someone else to fill, he remained available for our firearms teams during emergencies and other special occasions when a chaplain was required.
More recently, Aran has taken up the challenge as the Exmouth chaplain and is now back in a station, supporting the men and women of Exmouth station.
He is always available to offer wise counsel to both officers, staff and fellow chaplains and his presence on the team is truly valued.
John Ewington’s work as a volunteer chaplain has also been recognised, having been in the role since 1999.
His experience as a full time Church of England vicar has been invaluable as he faithfully discharges his duties to the chaplaincy.
John began looking after Bideford station and has since now offered support to Torrington, Holsworthy and South Molton stations. Looking after quite a wide geographic spread is not easy, but John has never complained and has always been ready with a joke and a smile to support his officers and staff. In fact, his humour is probably what makes him stand out most.
John is a member of the Devon and Cornwall Police fly fishing association and it’s here where he combines two of his great passions, fly fishing and non-judgemental support. Whilst attending fly fishing sessions, John has often supported officers or staff. He finds that speaking to people about difficult situations whilst out in nature can be more therapeutic than a traditional chat in a station.
John has been part of the chaplaincy and has supported officers and staff when they have been involved in incidents involving the death of a child and has brought care and compassion during that very sensitive situation.
He asks critically important questions at gatherings, often bringing to light things that others may have forgotten.
Philip Darby’s voluntary work has been recognised, having joined Devon and Cornwall Police in 1997 and is currently our longest serving chaplain on record. He has faithfully served Devon and Cornwall Police for over 23 years. Philip is a retired vicar for the Church of England, however retirement isn’t a word that fits him!
He continues to take church services, lead funerals and support officers and staff in Newton Abbot and Ashburton stations and the staff at Linhay.
Philip has faithfully led the Remembrance Day services at Middlemoor by request of the Chief Constablefor several years. He has also organised the National Day of Prayer for the Police at Exeter Cathedral and, with other chaplain colleagues, prays for our officers and staff on this special day for their safety and wellbeing.
As he is so highly regarded, Philip’s support has also been requested during some very difficult jobs including the suicide of a young man near a football field. He was called in and asked to help support and calm the local community and friends of this young man which enabled the police to carry on investigating.
Philip is part of the chaplaincy child death support service and has made numerous phone calls to officers and staff when they have been involved in incidents involving the death of a child to ensure that their wellbeing is paramount, and they feel they have an ear to unload on.
Special Constabulary Long Service
Virginia Hamilton’s time as a Special Constable has been honoured. She joined Devon and Cornwall Special Constabulary in 2007 and has been a key member of the force, contributing more than 3,500 hours of duty time within the South Devon BCU over the course of her career.
Always one to come forward to assist, Virginia has worked across a wide range of departments and roles during this time, from Response and Neighbourhood before coming into her own within Sexual Offence and Domestic Abuse Investigation Team (SODAIT).
She became a Specials Sergeant and assisted with the HR and administration of the Specials within her station, helping them to develop their skills and ensure their welfare.
Within SODAIT, Virginia shone, exemplary in her support of the department, contributing her hours to assist with the large amount of investigation and administration work. She became a key member of the team.
She is incredibly passionate about the importance of this work within this key area of policing and won South Devon’s Special of the Year for her contributions.
Virginia’s 13 years of service have contributed an amazing amount both in terms of her dedication, her professionalism, and her amazing attitude to the South Devon Specials. Virginia has recently resigned from the specials, but in true form she has taken this step, so she can keep helping others within different avenues through her continued work with local charities and her local church.
Nicola Richardson joined the Special Constabulary in 2010 with the intention of putting down roots in a new county and learning a new set of skills, and her work has been recognised. Within a couple of years of starting, she was promoted to Sergeant at St Austell police station and thoroughly enjoyed training new recruits.
In 2012, she was successful in obtaining a role within Devon and Cornwall Police as a Station Enquiry Officer and a promotion to Special Inspector followed not long afterward.
Nicola had a particular interest in Officer Safety Training and progressed this through the International Police Association, attending nationwide courses to become a certified instructor of explosive defence, tackling armed terrorists and treating catastrophic injuries. Alongside this she enthusiastically ran the Truro Cadet Unit, gaining a Superintendent’s Commendation for the single-handed management of the unit for over seven years.
Nicola has found herself dealing with some significant incidents off-duty, including one where she talked a very distressed man down from committing suicide.
During her ten years as a Special, she has put in over 3,700 hours and been actively involved in the East Cornwall Rural Engagement team, alcohol licensing operations, The Neighbourhood Safety Team and managing more than 35 new recruits. She transferred to Launceston police station part way through her career and has since picked up the mantle for the Liskeard sector as well.
Victor Lafferty’s work was honoured having been in the Special Constabulary since the year 2000, during which time, for the most part, he has been stationed at St Austell but has also done a stint in Truro.
Victor has mentored and helped many other special constables, from first shifts to last duties, many of whom have gone on to become regular officers. He sets extremely high standards and is a well-liked and respected team member.
Victor played a vital role in the setting up and policing of the Truro ‘Street Safe’ team which gave some vital first aid and assistance with first responder volunteers throughout a busy period in the city, attending to many different circumstances from drunk and injured people to the vulnerable. The team was so successful it went on to win the award of ‘Team of the Year’ at a South West Volunteer Awards ceremony.
Victor is always the first person to put his name down and is always available to assist new recruits by taking them out on their first shifts, to put into practice what they have learnt at HQ.
Victor has been a dedicated member of the Special Constabulary for just over 20 years, as a quick snapshot of his career, over only the last three years of his service, Victor has dedicated more than 1,000 hours to his role as Special Constabulary Sergeant, which is an incredible achievement.
The G999 Team was honoured with the Chief Constable’s Innovation in Policing Award for its work with a Cornish charity.
The Sea Sanctuary is a marine-based mental health charity in West Cornwall which was commissioned by the NHS. Its aim is to reach individuals in communities who are struggling with their mental health and who are often present with anxiety, depression, self-injurious behaviour and various forms of personality disorder.
The charity applied for funding from Cornwall Community Foundation under the Cornwall Crimebeat grant to develop a Blue Light Interface Project as a 12-month pilot, working in partnership with Devon and Cornwall Police. The project started in April 2019 and has funding for it to continue.
Special Constables work with a mental health practitioner to identify members of the public who present with mental ill-health to offer a different route to that of detention or arrest. The aim is to introduce a different approach and reduce the offending rate by way of attending incidents and providing intervention; identifying trends, providing education and a sign-posting service into Sea Sanctuary’s main services and other specialist provision; helping individuals and reducing demand on front line blue light services.
Individuals are supported from the first instance of the call out, avoid arrest, and are then conveyed to Waters Edge to be provided with appropriate opportunities of assessment and signposting into services.
Operating on Friday in Falmouth (West Cornwall), the G999 Team are secondary responders to any police job that has a mental health element to it, which releases regular police officers to go to other jobs.
The team has assisted more than 70 people in need of immediate support. The jobs the team attend are often severe and potentially life-threatening situations.
The team has been credited with saving the lives of many people who have been struggling with mental health issues. Not only do they support the individuals on the night but also help them in the long term with referrals to charities and providing advice.
Taking someone who can see no other way forward, spending time with them, showing them that there is hope and watching them have that realisation gives the team enormous job satisfaction. The G999 Team hopes that its work may encourage other forces to adopt a similar model and strengthen the response to people in mental health crisis nationally.
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