With the prospect of obtaining a job after university seeming increasingly challenging, especially in careers like the police, volunteering and work experience are becoming much more important both for students and for criminal justice agencies. Incidentally, the increased demand in criminal justice agencies for volunteers means increased variation for opportunities!
In my last blog post I wrote a little bit about my experiences of becoming a police volunteer and included a couple of tips for the process. Before university, my interest in volunteering started with the Specials, but over time and with more research, I’ve learnt much more about the various options that can be taken with the police.
The most traditional volunteering option for students tends to be joining the Police Specials, which offers the amazing opportunity to experience policing in the community with a supervisor for between around four to eight hours a week. Looking at your local police website and attending an information seminar at your local police station would be the best way to find out more about the opportunity. Here is a link for information sessions with Leicestershire Police. Additionally, forces, such as Lincolnshire Police are now beginning to introduce the role of VPCSOs, offering the opportunity for volunteers to experience Police Community Support Officer duties.
Another valuable opportunity is the option to be a Police Support Volunteer. This entails the opportunity to work within almost any department and with different skills. Some opportunities are public facing while others are desk based or in some cases require somewhat specialist knowledge such as vehicular engineering or photography. The differing opportunities tend to change regularly as departments realise the need for new roles, so it’s worth checking your local police website regularly, but some roles remain fairly standard. Admin tasks may not always seem the most interesting, but it can actually be a really interesting route into learning more about what happens within a specific department and the opportunity to take on new responsibilities once in your volunteering position can often occur.
By joining the University of Leicester’s Criminal Justice Fast Track Scheme, you can also receive updates about unique volunteering or internship opportunities, sometimes getting first priority in the application stage due to the university’s links with Leicestershire Police. One such opportunity last year was a paid role for about a month as part of a data collection project examining the effectiveness of the Project 360 initiative. Being paid is certainly a bonus, but being able to contribute towards such important work can be very rewarding. Another opportunity regularly used by University of Leicester students is a paid summer internship with Bedfordshire Police where students are able to experience work in varying departments.
So, wherever your interests or specialties lie, there’ll definitely something for you.