New figures have revealed that Jersey’s 12 honorary forces are only 62% recruited, with one Constable describing the need for officers in some parishes as "desperate".
The low numbers have spurred the Constables to launch a new recruitment drive – with the campaign emphasising the benefits and satisfaction of serving the community.
New figures reveal that St. Lawrence is just 36% recruited and St. Ouen is 41%.
St Mary, St. Peter and St. Saviour both have half the number of officers that they should have, based on their full complement.
In total, the island’s complement of honorary officers is 311 but, at the moment, there are just 193 Centeniers, Vingteniers and Constable’s Officers.
Some parishes are faring far better than others. St John is fully recruited while Grouville has 80% of its complement.
Parish Full complement No of office in post % recruited
Grouville 20 16 80
St. Brelade 32 20 62
St. Clement 24 19 79
St. Helier 51 36 70
St. John 19 19 100
St. Lawrence 25 9 36
St. Martin 21 12 57
St. Mary 18 9 50
St. Ouen 22 9 41
St. Peter 26 13 50
St. Saviour 32 16 50
Trinity 21 16 76
Total 311 193 62
St. Brelade Constable Mike Jackson, who chairs the Comité des Connétables, said: “We are conscious that some forces are down on numbers, but it is not unusual. There is always a turnover of staff but, at our last meeting, we decided to progress a campaign because some forces do need new recruits.”
He added not having enough officers sometimes meant that requests for help from organisations – for instance, providing traffic policing for events – had to be turned down.
“Of course, we’d like to help every time but that can be difficult,” he said. “One of our discussion points is, should we have officers who specifically police events? Should we do more to make the honorary police fit what people do, when they do it?
“We will tackle these issues but I’m sure that there are islanders who have the time and energy to step up now.”
St. Lawrence Constable Deidre Mezbourian, whose parish needs to find another 16 officers to be fully recruited, said: “We are a relatively quiet parish and we prioritise work as necessary to suit the number of officers we have available.
“We always manage to meet our essential police duties; we always do what we can.”
Pictured: An honorary officer on duty policing a festival last summer.
She added: “I wouldn’t say we are in dire straits but we do need new officers, so I would urge anyone who would like to step up and serve their community to speak with myself or the Chef de Police at the parish hall.
“We have been racking our brains to work out why our numbers are down. Some people have moved out of the parish or retired, and people have not stepped up to replace them. It has been a gradual decline, which we now need to reverse.
“We haven’t said ‘no’ to any event, but we would clearly be able to do a lot more with a bigger team. At the last air display, I actually went down with one of my Roads’ Committee members to ensure we had enough people policing the Bel Royal corner.
“We have a good team who work well together. It is a very worthwhile activity which teaches valuable life skills.”
Pictured: Without MOTs in Jersey, the honorary police have a key role in checking the roadworthiness of vehicles.
At the other end of the spectrum, St. John has a waiting list of officers wanting to join.
Its Constable, Andy Jehan, said: “When I arrived, we had six vacancies but we’ve since managed to recruit some really good people.
“The honorary police is for anyone who wants to do something constructive in their community. It provides a great opportunity to develop your own skills and be part of a team.”
Mr Jehan said there was wide range of ages and backgrounds across the 12 forces.
“Honorary police officers are a very diverse bunch, both in terms of where they’re from and what they do," he said.
“In St John, our officers are on duty one week in five and our Centeniers are on one in four but when it comes to commitment, it’s very much a case of you get out what you put in.
“We’re in good health but I would say there was a desperate need for more officers in some parishes."
Explaining why he joined a year ago, St John Constable's Officer Gary Grimshaw said: “I really wanted to find out what it was about and to see if I could make a difference. I also wanted to get closer to the community I live and work in. That is very important in a parish such as St John.”
Asked if he had indeed made a difference, the freelance photographer: “In certain areas, absolutely. For example, I was part of the cordon around Haut du Mont.
“We could see how stretched the full-time officers were there, and I would say the honorary police really did have an important role to play. Every single parish was involved, and St. John had an officer there most of the time.
“I felt proud to be able to help in that moment of tragedy. We may often be a quiet voice, but a quiet voice carefully spoken can still be an important one.”
He added: “Before I joined, I did not realise the amount of training I would receive, which lasted a full year. At the beginning, I was pretty nervous out on duty.
“I remember one of my early jobs was dealing with a collision between a school bus and a car. Despite arriving with more than a little trepidation, I remembered that I had to stay calm and go through the process that I had been taught, which I did.
“I’m now a lot more confident and get a lot out of it; I’ve certainly got no regrets about joining.”
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.
There are no comments for this article.