Do you have a talent for diffusing conflict simply by talking? Would you like to take an active role in helping to protect and serve your community?
If so, have you considered becoming a Special Constable?
This weekend is National Specials Weekend, with a nationwide recruitment drive taking place across June 6 and 7, to coincide with National Volunteers Week.
Special Constables are members of the public who volunteer their time in order to support their regular colleagues and provide a valuable link between the police and the local community.
They are warranted officers who have the same powers as a regular officer, wear the same uniform and carry the same equipment.
However, due to the level of training Specials receive, they are not be able to, or expected to, carry out all of the same tasks of a regular officer.
And, the role is becoming increasingly important in the Humberside Police force, with 414 specials officers currently serving – the most the force has ever had.
Since 2010, the hours worked by Specials has gone up by 42 per cent and taking on a role within the team could open any number of doors, with roles in the broader operations and communities areas of the force, as well as more specialist areas such as roads policing, public order and marine.
The role is unpaid, but officers are reimbursed for out of pocket expenses, such as travel.
And, there are a number of other perks, including the opportunity to undergo training which could benefit you in your regular employment too, such as first aid and safety training or coaching and leadership courses.
Joining up can also be used as a stepping stone to becoming a regular full time officer, with the opportunity to apply for internal vacancies and progress through the specials ranking structure.
For more information on becoming a Special, visit www.wearehumbersidespecials.co.uk
Special Constable Andy Jackson, who is based in Hull, has been involved with the specials for 28 years.
The 47-year-old headteacher said it was the variety that kept him coming back for more.
He said: “Being a special has moved on massively over the years, especially in terms of equipment, the types of jobs we do and our involvement in the organisation.
“When I first started, we had to share a wooden truncheon and a pair of handcuffs and you were lucky to get a radio. Now, that is all personal issue and our equipment is the same as regular officers.”
SC Jackson first signed up after a friend at teacher training college expressed an interest in becoming a police officer and he picked up a leaflet about the specials when they called into a police station together to find out more.
He said: “It sounded quite interesting and I decided to get involved. You see a different side of life that you don’t see in other jobs.
“I got on the conveyer belt and 28 years later I am still on it! It’s a complete detachment from everything else – both your professional and working life.
“It was also an opportunity to work within a team of people who are all focused on doing the same thing. You work with a wide variety of people. There are people I have met through the specials I would never have met elsewhere.
“You also get to do a wide variety of jobs – many of which are exciting – and feel as though you are really making a contribution. I still get the adrenaline rush.”
Special Sergeant Daniel Clark-Walters joined the specials in the Grimsby area four years ago and has progressed to his current rank.
He also used his role in the Specials as a stepping stone to becoming a Detention Officer with Humberside Police – a post he has now held for almost two years.
He said: “It’s not for everyone, but anyone who would like to make a difference to their community would be welcome.
“Some people who become specials go into it with the aim of getting an inside view of the role, with a view to becoming a regular officer. Others do it as they want to give something back to the community.”
Sp Sgt Clark-Walters – who previously worked in retail - said Specials were recruited from a variety of backgrounds and most jobs provided skills which could be utilised as a Special.
He said: “I came from working for Next for nine years. While I was working in retail, I learned a number of skills that I am able to use as a Special.
“Working in customer services, I learned how to diffuse difficult situations simply by speaking to people and this is the kind of quality you can bring to the specials.”
Sp Sgt Clark-Walters said he had started his career as a special with the Neighbourhood Policing Team, based in Cromwell Road.
He said: “Working with the Neighbourhood Policing Team gives you an idea of what traditional policing is like – the bobbies on the beat.
“It’s about engaging with the community.
“Now, I can be out shopping in Freshney Place and see someone who I know is a known offender, I watch them out of the corner of my eye. Sometimes staff see that I am watching the person and keep an eye on them too – or I may have a quiet word with the staff to alert them.
“Sometimes the person sees me and it may make them think again about offending.”
He said he believed there were a number of key qualities needed for Special Constables, including:
Good literacy skills – for taking and writing up statements
Facts and figures on Specials in Humberside
- 40 per cent of our officers are women
- This calendar year to date Specials officers have worked 44,273 hours
- In 2014 Specials worked a total of 113,580 hours
- This weekend there are 89 duties booked and it is anticipated officers will work a total of 640 hours (Fri-Sun)
- Training takes place over a period of three-and-a-half months, with three hour sessions one night a week and full day sessions at weekends.
Is being a Special the job for you?
If you are considering becoming a Special, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does it suit your lifestyle?
- Can you commit to 16 hours a month or 4 hours a week?
- Are you a good communicator or be willing to increase your confidence by getting “stuck in”?
- Are you literate?
- Can you work under pressure and cope with physically and mentally stressful situations?