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Zain Bashir

Special Constable, Northumbria

Being a university student, my team-working skills are good as I often have to work on group projects and presentations.  This means I can work well with my colleagues in the specials.  Also, I have developed many organisational skills at university, which have made me much more efficient at planning my time and workloads. As a special, you deal with people day in, day out, so this has really helped develop my confidence and my ‘people skills’.  The work has also taught me how to be resourceful and to show initiative.

Why did you become a special? I originally started volunteering with the police as a police cadet at the age of 15.  There were many reasons why I then wanted to join the Special Constabulary. I wanted to gain new skills that I couldn’t get in other jobs, and I hope to become a full-time regular officer, so becoming a special constable would give me first-hand experience of the role. I also wanted to give something back to the community and help keep people safe. Being a special allows me to achieve all of these aims.

What skills do you bring to the role and what does your work involve? Being a university student, my team-working skills are good as I often have to work on group projects and presentations.  This means I can work well with my colleagues in the specials.  Also, I have developed many organisational skills at university, which have made me much more efficient at planning my time and workloads.

My main duties are to support my regular colleagues in a number of ways such as responding to emergency 999 calls, conducting house to house enquiries as part of crime investigations, presenting evidence in court and patrolling in local areas.  I also get involved with large scale road safety operations such as the ‘fatal four’, which was ran entirely by special constables and involved carrying out vehicle checks and road speed checks at different locations.

What have you gained from being a special?  As a special, you deal with people day in, day out, so this has really helped develop my confidence and my ‘people skills’.  The work has also taught me how to be resourceful and to show initiative.

What is the reality of volunteering like compared to what you had expected? The reality of volunteering with the police is that you can be faced with challenging and even dangerous situations, which I probably hadn’t fully expected.  To prepare you for this you are provided with fantastic training that will always help you. The training scheme is 12 weeks long and covers a huge amount of areas from self-defence to law and legislation.

What is your proudest achievement as a special? My proudest achievement as a cadet was being runner up for the national Lord Ferrers Award which recognises the contributions of police volunteers, and having the opportunity to travel down to London and receive the award from Theresa May in the Houses of Parliament.  My proudest achievement as a special constable would be when I help vulnerable victims.

What is the best thing about volunteering? The best thing about volunteering is meeting new people; this could be colleagues who are working on the same shift as you or the people that you meet when you are on patrol. Another good aspect is the opportunity to work with other police departments such as the traffic unit and the dog section. You could even have a shift with the helicopter unit.

What’s the biggest challenge? There were two main challenges when I joined. The first was being able to schedule the time around university, but in reality even if you can only do one shift of a couple of hours per week, the officers appreciate it massively and you can really help your team. The second challenge I was worried about was remembering the paperwork and legislation, but the training is fantastic and once this is completed you are assigned a mentor who looks after you and answers any concerns you may have. You can also ask anybody on your shift, as they all want to help you and watch you succeed.

What advice would you give to someone considering volunteering for the police? I would tell everybody to not think twice about joining! It looks absolutely fantastic on your CV and you are also giving back to the community by helping to keep it safe, as well as supporting regular officer colleagues.

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