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Search for Islanders who want to serve community

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THE largest recruitment drive for honorary police officers that Jersey has ever seen launched today – with a push to secure up to 100 new officers and a focus on Islanders under 40 and those from minority groups.

St Saviour Honorary Police on the speed cams at Maufant Picture: DAVID FERGUSON.vingtenier Almerindo Goncalves and Centenier Paulo Martins. (27155779)

A dedicated website – yourparishneedsyou.je – has been set up and promotional videos, including interviews with serving honorary and States police officers, shared online and on social media in an effort to boost interest at a time when it is getting ‘harder’ to recruit volunteers.

Drop-in Q&A sessions are to be held across the Island and roadside banners erected. All 12 parish forces have been rebranded with a new logo too.

The honorary police, which has served the Island for hundreds of years, is currently almost 100 recruits short of its optimum staffing level.

St Helier Chef de Police, Centenier Danny Scaife, head of the Comité des Chefs de Police, said that the campaign, the largest in living memory, was vital.

‘We need recruits in every single parish. Our numbers at the moment are about 210 to 220 for all ranks. We should be at 311 at peak strength,’ he said.

‘It is getting harder to recruit because people have work commitments, they are running businesses or they have young families. We have approximately 100 people below the age of 50 and 120 above 50, but we do need to encourage more people in their 20s, 30s or 40s.’

Parishes can be taken to court if they do not fill their quota of officers. St Saviour was fined £5,000 by the Royal Court in 2015 and warned again in 2018 that it could be prosecuted if it did not meet its requirements.

Mr Scaife said a stigma about the force still existed among many Islanders, but he stressed that ‘times have changed’.

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‘We are trained, we are proactive and the image of 30 or 40 years ago has gone,’ he added.

Acting Superintendent Alison Fossey said the States police were ‘heavily reliant’ on their honorary colleagues ‘to inflate numbers when we need it, especially in times of major incidents and large events’. The States police are to take on 30 new recruits this year to bolster numbers after they fell to near record lows.

During Storm Ciara this week honorary officers from various parishes played roles in closing roads and attending scenes where damage had occurred or trees had blown down – jobs the States police would struggle to staff.

In the UK, paid forces are helped by police community support officers and in Jersey honorary officers in urban parishes join the paid police on night-time patrols to help bolster numbers.

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States police PC Iain Ford, a former honorary officer who served St Saviour for five years, said the parish force was a stepping stone for him to a paid career. He also stressed the importance of maintaining the parish hall inquiry system as a mechanism for keeping, in particular, young offenders out of court and free of a criminal record.

Mr Scaife added: ‘In St Helier about 20% of our officers are Portuguese. We have Polish officers, Romanian and it’s very important we do that.

‘It is important this campaign works, as we need recruits. And we need government departments and businesses to back us too. We need them to allow their staff to give up their time and encourage them to do this for their community. If it starts there, that could be a good thing. Some private businesses are very good and they back their staff – we need to push that.’

Aneta Popiolek (28), a single mother who was born in Poland, has served in St Helier’s honorary force for more than two years.

She had a message for others considering volunteering: ‘If your English is not great, or you don’t think you would be good, or you are shy, it does not matter. They will support you. I feel involved and I am helping my community. I have made new friends and you meet people of different backgrounds and I have learned skills that I can use in my day job.’

New recruits must be aged between 20 and 69 and have been resident in Jersey for at least two years. For more information, contact a parish hall or the Town Hall.

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire
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