Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Do you have the mettle to become a Special?

Northern Special Officers: left to right, Special Inspector Ruth Gardner, Special Sgt Simon Tracey, Special Sgt Jonathon Wilkin, Special Sgt Nick Harding, Special Constable Phillip Metcalfe and Special Constable Stephanie Holmes
People looking for an exciting challenge that will give them new skills are being invited to become a Special Constable in the Lancaster and Morecambe area.

The latest recruitment evening will be held at 7.00pm on Wednesday 13th June  at Lancaster and Morecambe College and is aimed at those who wish to become involved in policing in the north of the county.

Special Constables are unpaid volunteer police officers who have the same powers as regular police officers, wear the same uniform and are issued with the same equipment. Special Constables carry out local patrols, police local events, take part in crime reduction projects and help challenge anti-social behaviour in our communities.

There are currently over 400 specials working with Lancashire Constabulary, but a recruitment drive is now in place to get more volunteers to join the ranks.

A Special Constable is asked to work a minimum of four hours per week in a single shift but the working hours are flexible so that you can give more time if you can spare it. Some local companies actively support staff who wish to be a Special Constable by allowing them to undertake some of their police duties during their normal working time. No formal qualifications are needed but applicants must be over 18.

While the position is unpaid, you will gain a wealth of experience, develop professionally and get the chance to give something back to your local community. Being a Special Constable also offers an insight into working for the force and many decide to go on and pursue a career as a police officer.

Special Sergeant Nick Harding, 29, has been a special in Lancaster and Morecambe for two years.

He said: “I work at BAE as a project engineer and the company is very supportive in letting me do my special shifts – they give me three weeks a year to get involved and the rest is done in my own time. Many employers are happy to accommodate your work as a Special Sergeant.”

He added: “I joined because I wanted to give something back to my community and when I am involved in helping find people who have gone missing, or keeping people safe in the city centre at night, I feel I am doing that. It’s also exciting work – going out with the drugs dogs and carrying out raids is really interesting.

“It’s good to be part of a team and the regular officers give you a lot of help and support – we are treated just the same as them.”

“I’ve been a special for 18 months," says 26-year-old Special Sergeant Dan Shepherd, who also patrols Lancaster and Morecambe, "and joined up because I eventually hope to have a full time career with the police. Being a special has given me a really clear insight into what that will entail – particularly when I am on night patrols out in the city centre.”

Special Sergeant Shepherd fits in two volunteer shifts a week alongside his full time job.

He said: “I work in a pawn brokers and I’ve found that being a special has given me a lot of transferrable skills that help me in my job. I’m certainly more confident when it comes to dealing with members of the public and my communications skills are greatly improved.
“Members of the public don’t tend to realise we are special officers, but when they do they are full of praise for what we are doing.”

The event on 13th June will enable you to hear more from other Special Constables and ask any questions that you may have. Places are limited, so register your interest with specials co-ordinator Jen Seal viajen.seal@lancashire.pnn.police.uk or 01524 596659.

• More information on the Special Constabulary can be found at www.lancashire.police.uk/recruitment/special-constable

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