A FUNERAL director, landscape gardener and a theatre assistant are among a new batch of volunteer police officers pitching in to help maintain law and order in Gwent.

Thirteen special constables were officially enrolled into Gwent Police this week - bringing the total number of the officers to 140.

They have the same powers of arrest as their full-time colleagues, but are unpaid and work on a part-time basis.

Like all police forces across the UK, the Gwent force is facing tough times following cuts to its budget.

Earlier this year, it announced 17 of its police station front counters were to close - with only five stations offering front counter services.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Prince, who is also the lead for the Special Constabulary in Wales, said the force was hugely grateful for the dedication of its new special constables.

Among Gwent Police's new recruits is 33-year-old funeral director Michael Latham, who said becoming a police officer was a long held aspiration of his.

He said: "When I was about 14 or 15 I witnessed a serious assault on a friend of mine and the police officer at the time wasn't particularly helpful in dealing with the situation.

"The whole incident always stuck in my mind, and made me want to do something to help people.”

Two years ago, following a stint living in the USA, Caerphilly-born Mr Latham returned to the UK and found a job working for a Cardiff-based funeral directors.

He said: "It can be incredibly rewarding to help people at what can be a distressing and pivotal part of their lives.”