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About this blog

Having been off the streets for a year and a half after losing my last roll around and ending up having surgery, last week was my first duty back out and about. It was fairly boring as we had a couple of student officers with us who took everything, but simply wearing the uniform and doing the job again was magical. Never have I been so excited to do a few arrest enquiries and help new officers give out a couple of tickets!

Onwards and upwards.

Entries in this blog

Posh

Special. Are you? Could you?

I wrote this back in November and this was originally published on https://cccupolicingandcj.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/a-bsc-in-service-policing-service-discusses-what-it-is-like-to-be-a-special/ Reading back there are definitely a few bits I would've redrafted! However all criticism welcome :) 

 

Special. Are you? Could you?

Easter will bring the fourth anniversary of when I walked through the hallowed gates of Hendon Police Training College to begin training as a Special Constable for the Metropolitan Police Service. Many shifts and some unbelievable experiences later this blog is a welcome opportunity to reflect on what has been a whirlwind of a journey so far and perhaps provide some insight to those who are considering embarking on voluntary warranted service. Holding the Office of Constable is a privilege that I struggle to equate to anything else in life. It can be incredibly nerve wracking, but also exciting and rewarding in a multitude of different ways.

“And maybe remind the few, if ill of us they speak,

That we are all that stands, between the monsters and the weak.”

– Michael Marks

The Special Constabulary can trace its beginnings to before the time of Sir Peel and have a rich history of serving the community. Charged with the same duties, responsibilities and role as a regular officer, Special Constables have the same powers and equipment and are required to complete a minimum of two shifts per month supporting force priorities. This could range from high visibility patrol in night time economy areas, or assisting an often short staffed neighbourhood or response team.

Often confused with Community Support Officers, Specials are not paid, but perform key roles such as arresting suspects. Even now, some of my friends are still shocked when they see handcuffs and a baton on my belt, let alone finding out that I arrest people! There aren’t many roles where after about five weeks of training you could be attending the home of a male wanted for a serious domestic assault, who has strong links to gangs and firearms, for your first arrest as I did, and all in your spare time.

People join for different reasons, some use it to boost their CV, for many it was and still is in some forces the only route into regular service and are therefore using it as a stepping stone into policing as a career. Others still, known as career specials have no aspiration to join full time, but it is the opportunity to serve the community alongside their normal day job. Whether you want to join the regular service or not, the Special Constabulary is a fantastic way to ‘try before you buy’. For those considering a career in policing, for example those studying at university or currently working full time it enables you to experience the world of policing to enable you to make an informed decision about your future without having to change job. However regardless of intention, so long as you fulfil the eligibility criteria set out by the College of Policing and the force you are applying to and apply with good intent, all are welcome and it is a challenge that I couldn’t recommend enough.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” 

– Edmund Burke

As a Special Constable, you will encounter the best and worst of society on a frequent basis. Although events such as the recent public order in Lambeth show, that it is not without its risks. During my time I’ve been punched, kicked, spat on, had surgery after being assaulted, been on crutches twice and been called every name under the sun and some I didn’t even know existed! Not to mention countless threats made against my life and those that I care about; not a role for the faint of heart but it is something you soon learn to take in your stride.

Some of the highlights have been having the opportunity to make a difference and sometimes had a real impact on someone else’s life. Having done so in the knowledge that had you not been there it would’ve taken longer for officers to attend; potentially meaning that a particular incident could have escalated during that time, or in some cases they wouldn’t have attended at all due to an ever expanding demand combined with a continual reduction in resources. More and more forces are depending on specials out of necessity and with that comes a greater expectation and the willingness for regular colleagues to work with you and assist with your development.

As I look back at what has been a busy, but short service so far, I will never forget racing across London to save a teenage girl stood on the edge of a multi-story car park who saw jumping to end her life as the only option she had left. From the panic of getting closer units to attend as quickly as possible, to the sheer emotional relief of being notified she had been found and the sadness as you looked into the eyes of someone so empty, sad and young as you arranged for them to be assessed for treatment at the local mental health unit. Policing can be an emotional roller coaster and it was an honour to be able to help, but she is one in a long line of faces and stories I will never forget.

When I first joined, a friend asked me what an average shift consisted of; a few years later, I am still trying to answer that question. Whether you are supporting a traffic operation focussing on road safety, or arranging for the coroner to collect a body you’ve had to inspect after someone’s family member has passed away or looking for a vulnerable missing child who has wandered off there is such variety you will always be learning and experiencing something new. Upon joining, you are provided with a portfolio detailing a wide range of competencies that you are trained to do and then supported by tutors to demonstrate out on the street until you are signed off as having achieved the capability to patrol independently. Once you have completed this there is then the opportunity to progress whether that is to specialise with a particular unit or tutor newer officers or progress through the rank structure to manage other volunteers. Having spent the last year working on fraud and interviewing suspects, I now split my time between working on the night time economy and with an emergency response and patrol team.

If you ever thought, you could do the right thing under pressure, keep your head whilst those around you lose theirs, be that support for those who are struggling and need help at their most troubled time then being a Special Constable could be for you. It is an opportunity like no other to experience the world of policing and intricacies of upholding the law. Special. Are you? Could you?

For details of the College of Policing eligibility criteria please visit: www.recruit.college.police.uk/Special/Pages/Eligible.aspx

For any queries regarding individual forces contact the respective force HR department, or you can visit this forum for informal advice about applying, and more information about being a special: www.police.community

Posh

Coached Patrol

Shift: Saturday Coached Patrol

Rank: Special Constable

Length of Service: 3 years

Planned duty: 1400-0200

Unfortunately I haven't bothered trying to estimate timings as it was such a busy shift we were here there and everywhere! Having recently got my driving ticket I like running coached patrol shifts for newer officers to help them achieve evidence for their PACs and SOROC (read SOLAP for anyone who isn't Met).

I arrived before the start of the shift to get ready and book on and saw the two student officers who would be coming out with me and my oppo. We would be out in a Q car to help with getting some traffic process for the new guys. As they also needed an arrest each I also picked up a few arrest enquiries and a couple of taskings to help the Borough out. Once we were all ready to go, I checked in with the response skipper to let him know we were out and about and headed off to our first arrest enquiry.

2 minutes round the corner I spot a moped rider who was missing an L plate and texting whilst riding. A quick U-turn and lighting him up with the blues later :smileys-police-323496: we have our first seizure as the male was riding on a revoked provisional due to having racked up several points at court previously for no insurance - and you guessed it - he hadn't learnt his lesson and bothered to get insurance this time either! Thankfully recovery were pretty speedy (a complete god send as I know we've all waited hours before!) and we were back enroute to the arrest enquiry.

Unfortunately our man wasn't there, but I did manage to speak to him on the phone and he agreed to arrange an appointment to come in and be arrested on Monday. Not the result I was hoping for, but there were some relieved sighs from the student officers who hadn't made an arrest before! ^_^

We moved on to the second arrest enquiry which as we didn't have a home address for the suspect we were attending his work place, a kebab shop. Cue panicky thoughts about being cut into donner sized pieces of meat with that bloody sword they use to cut the kebab... :mellow: We decided that my oppo and a student would go in first and the other student and I would wait outside just out of sight in case it kicked off. As they went into the shop I noticed a member of public walk out to take a call and start walking quickly in the opposite direction. (He didn't see us, but was looking through the glass at the other officers). The he started jogging... Then he started running...! For what was the first of many times that shift I gave it legs after the suspect, shouting for the other pair to follow as I ran past the door. We rounded the corner into the car park to see the male trying to reverse his car out of the car park. Whilst my oppo tried to open the car door I drew my asp and at the top of my lungs politely informed the male I would do significant damage to his motor vehicle if he did not stop immediately and exit the vehicle... Or something similar :D He got out and was cuffed and nicked by one of the students. Upon being searched a box cutter was found in his pockets and he was further arrested for points and blades. A good result all round and the first pair of officers traveled with him back to custody.

I decided that I would give another arrest enquiry a try as he wasn't expected to be in and we were after some intel to try and locate him. He wasn't in, but his Mum persuaded him to come home. I can't remember the last time I'd met such a delightful and polite suspect. </sarcasm> After much failed negotiations to coax him inside for the umpteenth time he clocked on to why we were there and gave it legs into the estate. (Are you noticing a pattern here? I am definitely not a fan of running either!) Long story short, with the help of NPAS and several response units he was tracked into a hiding place a good mile away from where we started over a fair few fences! Another one in custody for the MSC :)

Following that we attended a few calls and assisted with the night time economy for the rest of the shift, but it wasn't as comical as the earlier part. Safe to say we slept well that night!

Posh

Aid to Westminster

Shift: Friday Night Time Economy

Rank: Special Constable

Length of Service: 3 years

Planned duty: 1900-0300

Due to lots of aid across boroughs in the MPS I found myself in Westminster on a recent Friday, where 125 Specials were deployed to police the night time economy. Unfortunately a slightly shirt shift as I only booked on last minute and had to be up early the following day.

1900 - Arrive at local nick, pick up a car and head into central picking up a mate I'd be working with that night enroute. Our tasking was to provide media support for the evening and generate as much activity we could on social media using the @MPSSpecials twitter channel. (Give us a follow!)

2100-2130 - Briefing at Westminster - get a couple of good snaps from the top floor of the Specials being paraded in the yard prior to deployment.

2131 - Walk out of the back gate to get something from the car and notice two males making observations of who is going in and out and looking very suspicious. Having stopped and accounted them and built up some substantial grounds I conducted my first ever terrorism search. Negative result, but they both got nicked for being illegal entrants to the UK having arrived on lorries that morning!

2135-2300 - Queue for custody, although there is no one in front of us... At the risk of getting an email inviting me to a meeting without biscuits we'll say no more about it!

2300-2330 - Prisoner booked in, notes written and handed over to UKBF.

2330-0200 - Answered a few calls, got a few more photos and most enjoyably met a bunch of really great Specials from all over the Met.

0200-0300 - Drive back to the nick, dropping off my oppo enroute and booked off for the night.

 

Hopefully this wasn't too boring to read, but it will certainly be a memorable shift for me just for the search!

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