Why did you become a special? After graduating with a Law with Criminology degree in 2013, I had good knowledge of law and criminology in theory but I didn’t have any practical knowledge or experience. I began to realise that I needed this hands-on experience before progressing with a career in this field.
I also wanted to learn new skills and to contribute to community development, whilst in a role that involves direct engagement with the public.
What skills do you bring to the role and what does your work involve? I volunteer as part of the recently formed East Midland Support Service (EMOPPSS) which provides roads policing; armed policing; firearms training; specialist search skills; specialist dog support, traffic collision investigation and emergency and events planning to the communities of Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire.
I recently applied to join the unit, which allows specials to join with specialist officers. I bring a number of skills to the role, which are in the areas of communication, evaluation and research, reasoning, adaptability, and problem solving. I also work well with people and have a real willingness to learn.
What have you gained from being a special? I have learned a range of skills including basic interviewing and case building. It has also made me more resilient and able to remain calm in challenging situations.
Being a special has increased my self-confidence and my ability to manage my own time, which has been essential when balancing a full-time role as a cadet coordinator, volunteering as a special and studying for my Master’s degree.
What is the reality of volunteering like compared to what you had expected? Volunteering as a special is very exciting and enjoyable, but at the same time demanding and challenging.
The reality is that you can never know what to expect. We prepare as much as we can but anything can happen, which is the nature of the job. This is a role where I will continue to learn and develop, which makes the role more exciting.
When I joined, I expected to be challenged and to learn, which is what I have found. I am always looking for opportunities to learn more by experiencing different aspects of policing, such as in my current secondment to EMOPSS.
What is your proudest achievement as a special? My first proudest moment was my attestation as a special 9 months ago once I had completed my training. My second proudest moment was securing a secondment in EMOPSS. These achievements show I was able to make a commitment to myself and fulfil that commitment, and demonstrate that I am hard working, determined and able to deal with various challenges.
What is the best thing about volunteering? I really enjoy meeting new people, which we do as part of every shift. I also enjoy working for an organisation that directly impacts the public and being in a role that requires me to be self-less and to always be of service.
What’s the biggest challenge? It can be challenging managing the expectations and requirements of the role, such as keeping up with all the training and certification, and balancing this with full-time work.
What advice would you give to someone considering volunteering for the police? I would advise anyone who would like to volunteer for the police to research the different roles, whether it is volunteering as a cadet, police support volunteer or special. What the public think that the police do and what policing is, can be very different. Take charge of your learning, be adaptable, be willing and contribute positively in whatever voluntary role you decide to get involved in within the police.