I’m delighted to be here on what is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the policing calendar and an event which continues to go from strength to strength, with today seeing those volunteering in the NCA included for the first time.
I wanted to start by saying what I said at the Home Affairs Select Committee recently. Because I don’t think I can say this enough.
I am truly in awe of the work that the police and other law enforcement agencies do – day in and day out – to keep this country, and its citizens, safe. And that means the work that you all do, demonstrated so vividly by some of the extraordinary stories I - we - have heard today. So let me begin by saying thank you to each and every one of you for the work that you do for our country and for your communities.
It is to each and everyone of your credit that you choose to volunteer – to give up your time free of charge – time you could very easily choose to spend doing other things – helping out not only the police, but ultimately your communities and our country. I think that is terrific. So does the government. And so does the Prime Minister.
And it was for precisely that reason that my predecessor as Home Secretary – the now Prime Minister – introduced a bill that will allow chief constables, where appropriate, to give you – the volunteers who serve us so courageously – more powers and an even greater ability to work to protect our communities. And I am happy to say to you that I agree with her 100%.
How can I not when I hear the marvellous, inspiring stories from today?
For example, we have heard how Bobby Dev implemented a scheme in South Yorkshire to reach out to marginalised young people and bring the community together; and how the Safeguarding Team in West Yorkshire and the Youth Council in London are working to protect vulnerable children from terrible abuses, day in and day out. That takes real courage.
We have heard about the excellent work of the Cleveland Police Cadets and the REVIVE team in Lincolnshire who work tirelessly to safeguard the vulnerable elderly in our communities.
And we have heard about Celvyn Jones, whose exceptional leadership skills have changed the profile of the special constabulary in Cheshire, and about Tarik Hardadou - a real leader in the making - who has promoted the fantastic work of the cadets to the Moroccan royal family. To see good practice being taken and shared abroad makes us even more proud.
Recently, many of you will know that this government agreed to publish – for the first time ever – statistics showing the scale of cyber crime. That reflects the changing nature of crime and shows – very clearly in my view – why we need to empower volunteers. Volunteers who bring skills to policing that are not the traditional skills that forces might have been looking for.
And we have all heard an incredible example of that today in Adam Maxwell, who brought his coding skills from the outside world to assist in the critical work in the NCA. I know from my position that we need to see more of that if we are to tackle effectively crimes as different as child sexual abuse and money laundering.
That is why I am pleased to announce that next year’s awards will include a new category to recognise technical innovation. We have seen today some examples of the contributions which volunteers have been able to make in this area, and I think it is right that in future these will be recognised at these awards.
I hope like me you have enjoyed the day and that those of you who won awards are proud of your achievements. Events like today allow us to celebrate the breadth and quality of activities that police volunteers undertake.
And I congratulate you all on your fantastic contribution to policing.
I would like to recognise the contribution of partner organisations like BT also, who allow their employees paid days off to support forces. I know that BT have played a key role in promoting this scheme to other employers and I’m grateful to those who take part in it.
I know the panel were very impressed by the quality of nominations and the scope of the contributions that our volunteers make, I’m happy to report that you’ve made their job very difficult this year. We should not forget the large numbers of nominations who didn’t quite make it onto the shortlist because of stiff competition, but who have also made a huge contribution to policing. We received nearly double the number of nominations this year than last. And I hope to see it double again next year.
Today is a huge testament to our faith in policing, emphasis on community and I’d once again, like to thank you once again for your contributions to policing and ask you to give a round of applause for all those nominated.