RETIRED Yorkshire Bank IT manager Nigel Drayton is hiding in a cupboard.

The next thing he knows the cupboard’s doors are flung open and he sees a North Yorkshire Police officer pointing a gun at him.

Mr Drayton, who gives up 30 hours weekly as a volunteer for the force, said helping keep the force’s 80 firearms officers’ training up to date and performing other tasks, including helping on some investigations, is a hugely rewarding experience.

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He said: “I have got to know a little bit more about the law, but I have learnt a lot more about the police.”

While special constables have helped enforce the law for 180 years, the force is set to double its separate and more recently launched army of volunteers to 240 to make England’s safest county even safer and is inviting volunteers to apply.

Richard Baldwin, the force’s head of volunteering, said eventually thousands of volunteers would be needed to implement its vision to add value to policing in the county, particularly in community safety roles.

Mr Baldwin, who led a 70,000-strong team of volunteers for Macmillan Cancer Support before retiring and running the only police volunteers group in the country completely operated by volunteers, said there was no shortage of people who want to offer their time to the force.

He said: “There are a million and one reasons why people volunteer, but the reason they stay is very simple – it’s the relationships that develop between staff and volunteers.

“It never crossed my mind that I could volunteer for the police until I spoke to an officer.”

The Police Federation says there is a place for volunteers, but not at the expense of officers.

Mr Baldwin said there was a spectrum of roles for volunteers, who are vetted and must not have a criminal record, which complement those performed by officers.

Volunteers’ tasks include working behind front office inquiry counters, driving police cars to where they are needed and examining CCTV footage to save officers’ time.

A force spokesman said: “The volunteers offer a different perspective to delivering policing services and increase engagement with the communities, providing opportunities to develop positive relations among people from all backgrounds.”

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