Can you 'trust the specials like the old time coppers' as the song goes? Ruth Gardner looks like she could be a good bet. As a special inspector who polices Lancaster, Morecambe and Wyre, she has received a national award for helping to improve the processes for searching for missing people.
Ruth Gardner, aged 36, was awarded the Ferrers Trophy at the National Policing Improvement Agency’s annual Special Constable and Police Support Volunteer Awards, which aim to recognise the wide range of skills that volunteers bring to policing in England and Wales.
Special Insp Gardner has worked for Lancashire Constabulary on a voluntary basis since 1994. She leads a team of five special sergeants and more than 50 special constables.
Her team have helped introduce new policies for searching for missing people, putting over 600 hours worth of time into the project. The procedures have resulted in the successful location of a number of vulnerable people.
Special Insp Gardner said: “I decided to join the Special Constabulary as I wanted to give something back to the community in which I live. It is a very rewarding role.
“I am delighted to have been given this award which I feel recognises the commitment that my team and I give to policing. These awards are a fantastic way of showing the value of specials and volunteers across the country.”
Ruth was recently given the special constable of the year award at a Lancashire Constabulary ceremony for her devotion and commitment.
Chief Officer Nigel Walters, who oversees Lancashire’s Special Constabulary, said: “Ruth has demonstrated excellent leadership qualities whilst providing clear direction to her team.
“The work she has done in the arena of missing people has improved public safety and successfully helped the force to locate missing people.
“Joining the specials can give a person a great sense of fulfilment – it gives them a chance to get involved with the community and make a real difference to the people living there. It is fantastic to see Ruth getting national recognition for her work and setting an example to other officers.”
There was a new record of 149 nominations for this year’s Special Constable and Police Support Volunteer Awards. The awards - originally called the Ferrers Awards after the then Home Office Minister - were first held in 1993 to recognise the work of special constables. They were renamed the Special Constable and Police Support Volunteer Awards to also recognise those volunteers, without policing powers, who perform unpaid tasks that allow regular officers and police staff to carry out other duties.
Lancashire Constabulary has a total of 443 special constables. They have full police powers and perform the same duties as regular officers. These can range from general patrol to the policing of football matches and road traffic incidents.
Specials wear the same uniform as police officers and are issued with the same equipment. Aged 18 and above, they work flexible hours with a minimum requirement of four hours per week and provide their time and expertise without financial reward.