Will Jones (PCSO C7300), as a Police Community Support Officer contributes to the policing of neighbourhoods, primarily through highly visible patrol with the purpose of reassuring the public, reducing crime and disorder, and working with communities and partner agencies to tackle community safety issues at local level. Specifically during COVID-19 response frontline officers required to Engage (are individuals aware of the Government legislation), Explain (the risks to public health) and Encourage (voluntary compliance). PCSOs do not carry any personal protection equipment, they rely on their communication and people skills.
On May 6th 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic Thames Valley Police (TVP) Police Community Support Officer Apprentice (PCSO) Will Jones, whilst out on independent patrol, approached a group of males playing cricket in a Slough park, they were clearly breaking COVID lockdown rules by gathering together. As part of our COVID-19 public response all frontline officers had been briefed to Engage, Explain and Encourage members of the public to comply with restriction guidelines set out by the Government and Will was happy to approach them under circumstances that did not immediately seem difficult.
The group began verbally abusing, laughing and taunting him and subsequently stole his police bike – several members of the group filmed the interaction and posted on social media. Will stood his ground, remained calm and professional keeping his composure throughout the whole incident which could have been intimidating for any experienced PCSO, never mind for a young 22-year old in his first year of service – he never once lost his professionalism. It is worth highlighting two points at this time; firstly that PCSO’s do not carry any personal protective equipment (compared to their PC colleagues), they rely on their communications skills to defuse situations – the group were circling Will and putting phones in his face. Secondly, Will has autism, despite his personal boundaries being pushed to the limit that day he was able to rely on his training and non-confrontational approach to ensure that things did not escalate.
The footage went viral and was viewed on multiple platforms thousands of times, it was picked up by the media and covered on local news and across several prominent national newspapers including The Sun, Daily Mail, BBC, Mirror, Independent, Metro and Slough Observer. On one site alone it has been viewed over 3,700 times and attracted over 1,500 comments. The perpetrators were identified by the images they posted on Facebook and Twitter and were subsequently arrested and put before the Courts.
Will’s response earned him many positive comments and compliments about his conduct, we feel he deserves special recognition for his composure, professionalism and dedication to his role. He is a credit to TVP and the uniform. The situation was a steep learning curve for him, reinforcing the skills taught in training but also building his confidence in dealing with situations.
Will Jones (22) joined TVP on 22/07/2019 he completed 10 weeks initial training at Sulhamstead, followed by 10 weeks of tutoring on area at Slough and he achieved independent patrol status from 29/12/2019.