Wales

Dyfed Powys Police volunteers 'keeping officers on the beat'

Phil Howard at Milford Haven police station
Image caption Phil Howard volunteers for eight hours a week at Milford Haven police station

A former postmistress, HR executive and factory manager have become the new faces of three Welsh police stations.

It is the result of a Dyfed Powys Police recruitment drive for volunteers to work on its front desks as Police Enquiry Officers (PEOs).

The three retired volunteers deal with the public for up to eight hours a week at police stations in Llandysul, Llandrindod Wells and Milford Haven.

The volunteers help keep officers on the beat, a police sergeant says.

Retired plant worker Phil Howard said the role was "totally different" to his former job.

"Things that come in to the station can vary - anything from an assault to a parking problem or a neighbourhood dispute," explained Mr Howard, who retired to Milford Haven, in Pembrokeshire, five years ago.

"We have a computer system and it's a matter of inputting the information in there, and giving it the appropriate priority. Then the police officers or PCSOs [police community support officers] can deal with it from there."

There are more than 6,000 police support volunteers across the UK, including 300 within South Wales Police and their numbers have increased steadily over the past 20 years.

Unison published a report earlier this year highlighting the "worrying" rise in the use of volunteers by police forces.

This is the first time Dyfed Powys Police has taken on volunteers to work "front of house", doing the work of paid PEOs.

Image caption Milford Haven police station is one of three where volunteers are helping keep police officers on the beat

All volunteers are equally valuable, according to Terri Harrison, the neighbourhood policing sergeant at Milford Haven.

"They allow us to be out and about where the public want to see us," Sgt Harrison said.

"Phil mans the front desk, which unfortunately doesn't get manned as it used to."

Mr Howard, who also volunteers with the Citizens Advice Bureau, added: "My role helps the police to do their job better, at least that's what I hope."

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