DCO Derek Hopkins
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am Essex Police Special Constabulary Deputy Chief Officer having served in a number of roles and locations moving to Headquarters as a member of the Command Team. I was always interested in policing and whilst at school had an ambition to be a Traffic Police Officer. On applying for the Police service however I was just below the minimum height requirement which at that time was 5’8”. After some initial time working in the motor trade at a Jaguar and Rover dealership. I subsequently joined the Fire Service in a support role where I developed a career. I regularly played Sunday morning football when one day I broke my dominant arm in a game. In an effort to return to work I practised writing with my other hand (all my work was handwritten then) by completing coupons in the back of a daily newspaper. One of those that I sent off was a show of interest in the Special Constabulary – subsequently two local supervisors called at my home and after an interview I was accepted. The Special Constabulary became my primary hobby although I also obtained a qualification as a Commercially Endorsed Yachtmaster enabling me to skipper large yachts taking young people for adventures offshore various destinations. I have always had tremendous support from my family, a key part of being able to give voluntary service the highlight being the award of the MBE.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy the variety of the role both in terms of my management role and the challenges of operational front-line policing.
Why is diversity and inclusion so important in and outside of the workplace?
Our communities are made up of individuals, each of whom will have particular characteristics and attributes. It is important to recognise the value each of these individuals and the groups with which they identify bring to our society. Efforts to understand different cultures and religions and the needs of those with particular restrictions will be rewarded by mutual respect and therefore a greater cohesion.
Were there any barriers to joining Essex Police?
I was only too aware of the impact of the restrictions on my career aspiration but am an example now I believe, how age is certainly not a barrier. There are a few statutory requirements in relation to eligibility otherwise potential recruits should be able to demonstrate a suitable outlook and understand the position of the Police in our communities whilst being able to evidence attributes such as honesty and integrity and skills in communication and conflict management.
Why do you think it’s so important that our force values difference?
Everyone has something to offer society, bringing their own perspective from the experiences they will have had in their upbringing, education and employment. The organisation can make use of those experiences to help shape its response to members of our diverse communities.
How has Essex Police as an organisation supported you in your career?
Through all the trials and tribulations of my busy and varied life Essex Police has always been supportive both corporately and through individual staff. Support during times of illness has been unwavering and tangible. Since my retirement from full time employment I have also been supported in developing skills in roads policing so as to go some way to realising my early career ambition. The training and development provided was instrumental in helping me progress in my full-time career.
Tell us something interesting about your role?
I believe that opportunities as a Special Constable are limited only by your ambition and availability. I have been involved in numerous activities which I can’t disclose here but suffice to say they would not be available to others. This has helped me develop and maintain interest in the police service as a whole and how it fits into the rich tapestry of public services and voluntary organisations working for the benefit of our society.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about joining Essex Police?
After you have researched the role and are confident that you have the aptitude and ability to fulfil the role (including the time and freedom to volunteer your time if becoming a Special) then don’t look for barriers to showing your interest. If you are still unclear or unsure then contact the recruitment team who can arrange a conversation with a serving Special Constable.