Why did you become a Special Constable?
I joined the Specials as I wanted to gain experience and contribute to my community.
I currently work as a Healthy Lifestyle Adviser for Derby City Council. I work with the public every day and I find that quite rewarding . I’ve been interested in policing for about ten years if not longer! I remember being fortunate enough to have a visit from the police helicopter team when I was at primary school and being very excited by the sirens of the cars . A client at work was a police officer, and I really enjoyed her stories about situations she’d dealt with. That convinced me to give it a go as a Special as I wanted test myself and engage in a really challenging role. My paid employment lets me help people, but being a Special takes it to the next level.
What have you gained from being a Special?
I think I’ve experienced lots of situations that have aided my personal development. I’m far better at assessing situations quickly, and I’ve learnt the importance of weighing up a situation before rushing in. I’ve learnt a lot about teamwork and effective communication. When you’re facing challenging situations it’s important to make good judgements and work effectively with your colleagues.
What is it like being a Special Constable?
I really enjoy the role. While it has some similarities with my day job, I get to see a very different side of life. Every shift is different and you never know what is going to happen when you come on duty. That variety is what keeps it interesting.
What kind of situations do you face?
It’s hard to narrow down! There really is so much variety in what we do. Sometimes the emergencies you face aren’t those the public would immediately consider when they think of the police. I can remember being on duty when a report came through of a missing child near Swadlincote. He was quite young and had wondered off from his parents while they had been putting his sibling in the car. We’d been called in to help search. He’d now been gone for four hours and the parents were really worried, units were starting to be called across from nearby Derby to help find him. I suggested that we double checked the immediate area one last time before we widened the search. Luckily I then spotted a child near the parents’ house. It turned out he’d been hiding nearby for about 15 minutes because he was scared and couldn’t get back into the property. The look of relief on his parents face when we handed him back was something I’ll never forget. Really great feeling.
Then you also experience the kind of things the public really do imagine! Everyone remembers their first arrest. Mine was a domestic incident with, unusually, a female offender. There were three kids in the house and the woman had been attacking her partner. He’d barricaded himself in a room downstairs with one of the children, but had lots of injuries to his chest and arms. The female had taken up a pair of scissors and he was afraid she was going to cut him. Before we arrived comms passed information that the offender had a history of drug use and mental health issues. When we arrived the woman quickly calmed down, but was found in possession of amphetamine. It was a really difficult situation as she was clearly quite vulnerable herself, but needed to be arrested to stop the situation escalating. Explaining to her children that she would be coming with us to have a talk was quite difficult.
As a special, you gain lots of experience in dealing with people in challenging situations. You quickly learn that the person you arrest on one shift can be the victim of a crime on the next one. It’s important to try and bring calm and act professionally. You really grow and become more capable.
What is the best thing about being an Special?
Knowing that you’re helping people. I enjoy giving back to my community, being a Special gives me the ability to make a real difference. Being a police officer is a real responsibility, even if you’re volunteering, but it also gives you a platform to do some real good.
Hearing the sentence ‘its ok the police are here now’ comes with quite a lot of pressure but knowing that your presence is helping makes it worth pulling on the uniform.
What advice would you give to someone considering volunteering for the police?
Put in your application! It’s a bit of an effort at the beginning and the training is a challenge. It’s definitely all worth it! Once you get out on section and find a shift you click with the comradery is amazing and you’ll experience things you couldn’t in any other role.
My employer, Derby City Council, are really supportive of me as a Special. The Council provide me with 10 days per year of additional leave to perform duties as Special Constables. I really appreciate the support I get to make a positive difference to my community. If you’re interested in joining it’s well worth asking your employer if they allow any time!