THE region's crime commissioner has praised the hard work and dedication of West Mercia's voluntary police force.

Around 394 officers as part of the special constabulary - a team of trained volunteer officers - have worked around 60,000 hours since April 2017 which amounts to nearly seven years collective service in the space of nine months.

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion, who is also the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, deputy lead on Citizens in Policing, said: “Our communities have an important part to play, as active citizens who contribute to keeping each other safe.

"I’m extremely grateful to those who volunteer their time in the Special Constabulary and it’s important they get the reward and recognition they deserve.

"I am committed to building safer and more secure communities and champion the force’s approach to recruiting and retaining Special Officers, who work professionally and diligently to strengthen the regular workforce.

"They have a crucial role to play in my vision for a safer West Mercia.”

Special constables come from all walks of life and volunteer a minimum of four hours a week to their local police force, forming a link between the full-time force and the local community.

West Mercia Chief Superintendent Charles Hill said: "The dedication and selflessness of these officers cannot be underestimated.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every Special Constable for their precious free time utilised for the betterment of their communities and for their sense of duty protecting people from harm.

"The non-police experiences they bring to the role and to the service are a valuable resource that cannot be undervalued and people living across the counties of West Mercia are safer as a result of their individual contributions."