A search has been launched for a trio of volunteer crime busters.
The call has come from the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
The charity is looking to recruit the volunteers, one to work in each of the three policing divisions, Flintshire and Wrexham, Conwy and Denbighshire and Gwynedd and Anglesey.
PACT recently revealed that it has handed out more than £2 million in grants and funded over 2,500 community projects since it was founded in 1998.
To celebrate reaching the milestone it set up a £25,000 anniversary fund and is inviting bids for grants of up to £2,500 for local initiatives across the region – the deadline for submissions is June 30.
Fittingly, much of PACT’s funding comes from cash seized from criminals and recycled for the public good.
The organisation works closely with North Wales Police’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams, particularly the network of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).
According to PACT, its main purpose is to provide funding to community and voluntary groups for schemes that improve people’s quality of life by reducing crime and the fear of crime.
Chair Ashley Rogers said: “We’re celebrating a quarter of a century of PACT but we are certainly not resting on our laurels. We want to build on what we have achieved so far for the next 25 years.
“Our success has been based largely on the help we have received from volunteers and we are looking to recruit more so we can ramp up our activity.
“If you’re passionate about our communities and you want to get involved, this is a great opportunity to interact and get to visit some amazing projects that are doing exceptional work in the community.
“Much of our funding is sourced from the ill-gotten gains of criminals. This is about restorative justice and it’s very appropriate that the money is used to help support the communities that have been damaged by crime, converting bad money into something good. It’s poetic justice.”
Mark Owen, head of Citizens in Policing and the Special Constabulary Chief Officer at North Wales Police, was involved in the setting up of PACT when he was an Inspector looking after community safety for the force.
He said: “What PACT has achieved is absolutely superb, all the grants that have been awarded and the good work that has taken place since it was founded. It’s just fabulous.
“The direct link into my current role as the person in charge of police volunteering for North Wales, with Special Constables, Police Support Volunteers and Cadets, is that they benefit directly from PACT.
“We’re now working on a programme for our Special Constables to become ambassadors for PACT at the local level, creating a beautiful loop from police volunteering and back again.
“If anything, PACT is more relevant now that it ever was and it helps make communities safer.
“There’s a lot of academic research that shows that volunteers get a feelgood factor and a sense of value. It’s good for you.
“For people who are on the verge of retiring or have recently retired, they have invaluable skills and knowledge that might otherwise go to waste.
“By volunteering, you’re not only giving something back you’re getting that positivity and a buzz from helping others.”
Mum-of-two Sonia Jones works full time as the admin manager of the pharmacy at Ysbyty Gwynedd, in Bangor, and has been a special constable for seven years.
She volunteers for around 30 hours a month on the beat in Anglesey and has same powers as all other police officers – the only difference is that she is not paid.
Sonia said she’s delighted to become an ambassador for PACT, having witnessed the good work that they do.
She said: “Policing is always something that I have aspired to do. However, life just got in the way and now I am getting the best of both worlds.
“I enjoy giving something back and putting the uniform on gives me a big sense of pride. It makes you feel special. I just love it.”
Gary Leighton-Jones worked as a member of staff in the Operational Planning Department at North Wales Police for 21 years.
He now does a range of voluntary work for North Wales Police, doing debriefs of critical incidents, role playing for training exercises and I also run the force lottery.
Gary said: “I enjoyed my time at North Wales Police greatly and I wanted to keep active after I retired because I thought I still had things to offer.
“I thoroughly recommend the notion of volunteering because I believe in giving something back to society. I get the satisfaction of helping.”
PACT Project Manager Dave Evans said: “We’re looking for a small cohort of volunteers who are committed to helping us engage with community groups across the six counties and almost act an advocate for PACT, encouraging groups to apply for funding and also importantly carrying out some project feedback and find out how effective, or otherwise it’s been.
“We work closely with the network of PCSOs and are excited to be developing this work with the army of Special Constables, volunteer police officers, who work across North Wales.
“We are looking for people who are interested in community affairs and want to make a real difference and make North Wales a safer place to live, work and visit.”
Anybody interested in becoming a volunteer or making a bid for a grant should go to the PACT website www.pactnorthwales.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Dave Evans on 01745 588516