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Special Constable Charlotte Pretty Blog

SC Pretty of Derbyshire Constabulary speaks about her experiences as a volunteer and how this has impacted on her life.

Why did you become a Special Constable?

My whole education has been focused on crime. At college we studied the Jamie Bulger case and I went on to study Criminology at Derby University. During my degree I learnt about Child Sexual Exploitation and Domestic Violence. I really enjoyed my studies but felt that I needed to get some hands on experience, so I joined the Special Constabulary. I went on to study an MSc in Criminal Investigation.

What have you gained from being a Special?

It gave me hands on experience that enabled me understand Domestic Violence better. There is a lot you can learn in the classroom, and that has definitely helped me, but having that practical experience helped me anchor that understanding in the real world. Being a Special helped me achieve my degree!

After I graduated I saw a job come up with Derbyshire Constabulary in public protection. My studies and volunteering had made me certain that a career in criminal justice was for me. I’m really passionate about helping the victims of domestic violence, therefore a police staff role in public protection is the perfect job for me. When I attended the interview I gave examples from domestic violence incidents I’d attended as a Special. Volunteering had given me a working understanding of the procedures and processes that are a core part of what public protection do. I got the job, and being a Special was a huge part of me achieving that.

Now you’re police staff, how has that changed your experience of being a Special?

Well one of the big differences is I now get Employer Supported Policing (ESP) leave. Every month I’m allowed 8 hours of time to go on duty as a Special. It allows me to do weekday events and duties I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. This means I get a broader experience.

I think that my job and volunteering really complement each other as well. I have a better understanding of Domestic Violence from working in the area and I take that with me on the street. Colleagues in the Specials and regulars will ask me for advice when investigating Domestic Violence cases, and in return I get taught general policing skills. It helps you develop a bond with my colleagues. That positive relationship helps me work better with them in my day job.

What is being a Special like?


The relationships you develop with colleagues are fab, both volunteers and other staff. You make some amazing friends. It’s a very social experience.

It’s also quite broad! There’s so much variety in policing anyway, but you get to do lots of different things with the Specials. I really like working football matches and engaging with the public. You have a lot of fun and I enjoy the banter. I’ve done attachments with roads policing and occasionally have duties with the CREST team that aim to reduce casualties on the roads. There’s a lot of variety and I find myself doing new things all the time.

What was your proudest moment as a Special?

A female had been reported missing by her boyfriend and we were out looking for her. Several units had been looking for a length of time and we attended an address that had been rated as one of the less likely locations for her to be.
I knocked on the door and lo and behold our missing person opened it. We spent about two hours speaking with her. She explained that she was trapped in an abusive relationship. The address she was at was her ‘safe house’ and she asked us to let her partner know that she was safe but not to let her know where she was.

I spent the time with her explaining the options available to her, the referral processes and where she could get support. Using the skills and knowledge from my day job I was far better at dealing with that situation. Ultimately the woman did manage to get out of the relationship with the support that was put in place.

That was my proudest moment as it was the culmination of years of work. The time at college and then four years at university, the effort I’ve put into being a Special and then the knowledge I have developed in public protection. It was all worth it knowing that I had made a difference. I find having that positive influence really satisfying and that is what motivates me at work, at home and as a volunteer.

What advice would you give to someone considering volunteering for the police?

If you’re thinking about a career in criminal justice, but you aren’t sure if policing is for you, why not give it a try? I know people that have joined the Specials and gone on to become police officers, or like me police staff. Some decide that they just enjoy volunteering or that its’ not for them. No matter what the outcome is, you’ll gain skills, get personal development and challenge yourself. It’s a great experience.

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