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Ex-PCC swaps police governance for uniformed service

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It's a different form of public service without the politics'.


What does a former police and crime commissioner do with their spare time when they are no longer in office?

The answer for Olly Martins involved getting a warrant card.

That’s because the former Bedfordshire PCC, who governed from 2012-2016, is now a special constable on Merseyside.

By day a local government officer, the ex-politician now serves law enforcement in an area he represented as a councillor in Liverpool from 1995-2003.

SC Martins did not approach this website to promote what he is doing, but after our reporter had heard about his service and made contact with him, he agreed to speak.

So, why did he decide to join the special constabulary?

“I spent quite a lot of my time as PCC promoting the specials because I saw specials are the epitome of that Peelian principle: the public are the police and the police are the public,” he said. 

“I know that Merseyside values the sort of outside experience that the specials can bring, that kind of link back into communities that people who are doing it part time and on a voluntary basis can bring to the force.

“I used to ride along with our specials in Bedfordshire and I said if I ever lost office I would want to be a special. Even though there’s probably no one who remembers me making that promise I still feel like I’m keeping a promise.”

He was attested in March after six months of training, and now serves in the Speke area on a community team – which carries out a combination of preventative and engagement work.

“In a way I’m a little bit envious because that’s the kind of capacity that Beds really struggles to have. Although Merseyside has lost 1,000 officers it’s still better resourced than I was used to in Bedfordshire, but only just,” he said.

Has anything surprised him about the role?

“If anything the challenges are even greater than I was able to observe before – the resources and the risks that police officers face on behalf of the public.”

On how he is treated by regular officers in the force, he praised the way in which specials are fully integrated into local policing on Merseyside. He added: “I, and I think it’s the same for other specials, we get nothing but respect from regulars when we turn up after our day job to help them police Merseyside.

“Historically I’m not sure that’s always been the case […] but particularly in the current climate where people are going to be single-crewed and they’ve got a special working with them they’re not single-crewed.”

But the role is not the only one the former PCC does for free – he is a longstanding member of the army reserve, but says the two roles are quite different, with the special service involving a lot more application of the training he has received.

In our interview, SC Martins made repeated reference to his time in office, noting he enjoys his new day job though he would “prefer to have been re-elected” and also that serving as a special has confirmed some of the theories he had about the nature of offending and how to stop it occurring. 

So, if the opportunity arises would he want to be a PCC again?

“Never say never, but at the moment I’m enjoying being out of the political cut and thrust.

“I was deeply immersed in politics for over 20 years so I kind of feel like I’ve done my time. I’m a local government officer so I’m not party political. […] I am quite enjoying that.

“And it’s a different form of public service without the politics."

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