Here we feature profiles of some of our Specials - find out what it is really like being part of the Special Constabulary and hear their stories.

I find time around my hobbies to live #MyOtherLife

Jade Smith

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Jade Smith and I work as a Reservations & Spa Scheduler at a spa and hotel.

My Family

My family are very supportive of me being a Special Constable and are proud that I have achieved getting into Essex Police at a young age.

How long have I been a Special?

I have been a Special since June 2016

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

Luckily I work different hours in the week so I could either start at 8.30, 9.30 or 10.30 so I often work my shifts the night before or after work. However, I mostly do my shifts on my days off.

What do I like about being a Special?

I like being a Special Constable because I’ve gained new skills, met a variety of different people and have made some amazing friendships. I am able to provide support and help people when they need it to make my community a safer place.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

I’m a standard trained Special working towards independent status and getting the standard driving permit.

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

I am currently planning a duty with the JUNO team (Domestic Abuse team) to learn more skills and get a better insight to Domestic Violence. Not everyone gets that chance as this was offered to me by one of the shift sergeants.

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

Make sure you work hard and don't let anything set you back, once you have completed the training it is the best feeling knowing that you have done it and haven't given up.

Chris Gliddon

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Chris Gliddon, I’m 20 years old and I’m an Assistant Golf Professional.

My Family

I live with my mum, dad and two younger brothers.

How long have I been a Special?

I have been a Special for one year and three months.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

I make sure that I try to have Friday nights as my policing night but I end up coming in way way more than that!

What do I like about being a Special?

I love the difference and diversity in the people you speak to and the types of jobs you go to! It’s nothing like my day job at all.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

Nothing specific as of yet but hopefully in years to come!

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special:

I helped deal with a man and get him through the hospital process who had earlier tried to end his life. 

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials: 

Do it!! You won’t regret ever sending off the application. Just be yourself, honest and take every opportunity that you can!

Leon Dias

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Leon Dias, I own a business providing residential and domiciliary care for adults with learning disabilities. 

My Family

I’m married with two children; Max aged 14 and Oscar aged 11.

How long have I been a Special?

I have been a Special for almost 21 years.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

Running my own company allows me time to fit in my volunteering. 

What do I like about being a Special? 

I really enjoy the variety of the role, the buzz from not knowing what the shift will entail, and the camaraderie of being part of the police family.  

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary? 

I have undertaken the police senior leadership program, standard response car and carrier, speed gun, off and on road 4x4. 

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

I led a team of 20+ specials looking after the internal security at Colchester town hall during a visit by HM the Queen. I had the opportunity to work closely with the royal protection detail, it was a unique and interest duty. 

I have had the opportunity to work with the police air support unit, flying with them as an observer.  

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

My advice would be just do it, don't put it off, something else will always come along to fill your time. I have never regretted making the commitment to join the SC and can't imagine my like without the Special Constabulary and Essex Police in it.

I find time to live #MyOtherLife

Katy Darling

My name, age and what I do for a living 

My name is Katy Darling I am 30-years-old and I am a Detention Officer with Essex Police.

My Family

I live with my Fiancé in Essex. My mum, dad, two sisters and my brother live in London.

How long have I been a Special?

I have been a Special Constable for almost a year.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

I mainly work shifts on my rest days but also have the opportunity to work one shift a month during my normal working week with the Employer Supported Policing scheme.

What do I like about being a Special?

Working in custody, I see a wide variety of people walk through the door, what I love about being a Special is I now get to see what happens outside. Every shift is different and I love the buzz.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

Nothing yet but I hope to obtain my independent patrol status soon.

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

 I had the opportunity to attend a post mortem accompanying the CSI team.  

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

I would definitely recommend it to anyone, I have learnt so much in the last 11 months, the role is very rewarding.

Ronnie Withers

My name, age and what I do for a living:

My name’s Ronnie Withers, I am 19 years old and I am currently a part-time lifeguard. However, I am going to university next year to study BioMedical Science, with the hope to get into Medical School and become a doctor in the future.

My Family

I live with my parents and younger brother.

How long have you been a Special?

I have only just attested as a Special so am new to the role.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

As I only work part time, it is easy to find 16 hours a month. It will be harder when I am at university full time, but I am sure I will be able to make it work if I organise my time efficiently.

What do you like about being a Special?

I am looking forward to assisting regular officers with their duties and being able to help people who need it.

What are you trained as in the Special Constabulary?

As Special Constables, we receive the same training as regular officers, just within a shorter time period. We are taught the basic skills needed such as making an arrest and searching as well as the basic law needed on a regular basis.

An interesting thing you’ve done whilst working as a Special

Even as a new special, I have done some very interesting and exciting things. I have assisted officers conducting an arrest warrant in a house, which was very interesting to see. I have also been involved in a foot chase with someone suspected of having a knife, which is interesting and satisfying to realise you are helping get the criminals off the street.

Advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

If you are interested in becoming a special, do as much research as you can, then, if you think you have what it takes, just fill out the application form.

Claire Fox

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Claire, I am 21 years old and I am a university student studying Ethical Hacking and network security. 

My Family

I have a partner who is also in the police force and I have 3 younger sisters. 

How long have I been a Special?

I have been a Special for 9 months and have recently become independent. 

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

When you love the job finding time is easy, I complete my hours during the weekends and on university breaks. 

What do I like about being a Special?

Every shift is always different! I have made lifelong friends in this job from all different backgrounds...friends I would probably have never met if it wasn't for me becoming a Special.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

I have no additional training but hope to complete my standard driving course when I've completed the required hours.

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

Assisting Thurrock Community Policing Team on a successful early morning drugs warrant where over 150 cannabis plants were found and seized from a cultivation set up in the occupants house, occupants were in and were all arrested. 

I also assisted Grays Local Policing Team on a half night shift where a regular and I were second on scene to an intruder alarm that had been activated. It transpired that we had interrupted an organised illegal rave and had intervened before it had started. 

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials 

It's a challenging but very rewarding role. You will get out of the role as much as you wish to put in!  I have been able to complete training in Essex police that will help as a Special and also in my day job.

I find time around my home life to live #MyOtherLife

Simon Jesse

My name, age and what I do for a living 

My name is Simon Jesse, I am 46-years-old and I am a Computer Aided Design Engineer

My Family

I have been married for 17 years. My wife will be working for the NHS very soon and I have a teenage daughter who is currently attending college in London. My parents and sister all live close by and everyone has been very supportive of my decision.

How long have I been a Special?

A grand total of 12 weeks!

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

I have always been fortunate to start my normal job very early and finish early afternoon and it is a Monday to Friday role. This does free up nearly every evening and all weekend which was previously filled with watching films, making props for amateur dramatic groups and of course my Xbox. Giving up some of this time to volunteering has been a very easy decision. 

What do I like about being a Special?

I have always wanted to do something positive for my community. The Specials recruitment drive has given me the platform to finally be part of this. I get to help people every time I am out on shift, from engaging with those in need, to positive resolutions or providing support to colleagues. No two shifts are the same which keeps it very interesting and challenging.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

At the moment I can work on fast roads (to help with traffic related situations) and I have recently received Tint Man training (a device to test the tint on a window). There are many opportunities to expand into different roles within Essex Police and I will look for these in the future.

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

On my very first shift, I was driven to a scene on blue lights and sirens, I jumped out of the car and into a field with my torch and CS Spray in hand searching for a suspect. The helicopter arrived with the massive spotlight illuminating the area, Taser units in attendance, I then took an active role in stopping traffic in my Hi-Vis coat and through all of this I was recognised by one of my daughter's friends who got caught up in the traffic! A surreal moment...

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

You are doing so much more than joining the Specials, you are joining Essex Police, a team you can depend on. Every hour you spend in uniform is valued and recognised by both regulars and Specials but the people who see the most difference you make are the public and it is from them you get the greatest sense of satisfaction.

Angie Clarkson

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Angie Clarkson, I'm 45 years old. I'm a contracts manager within the construction industry.  

My Family

I have two grown up daughters, one who still lives at home with myself and our two little doggies.  

How long have I been a Special?

I've been a special for 2 1/2 years now and enjoy every minute of it.  

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

Most of my volunteering is at weekends with the occasional weekday evening whenever I can. 16 hours a month is easy for me and I average around 45 hours.  I plan things in advance so I know when I can and can't do a duty.

What do I like about being a Special?

I enjoy everything about being a Special. There isn't anything that has put me off. I like to go to jobs and feel like I've really made a difference. There's nothing like going home after a long shift, knowing that what I’ve done for someone has had a positive effect. That is priceless.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

I'm trained to operate Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) equipment and a speed gun. I've also completed Level 3 Public Order training.

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials: 

My advice is, 'go for it'. You'll enjoy it, but make sure you have the full support of your family, as it will have an impact on your personal life.

It was the best thing I ever did; my only regret is...I should have done it sooner!

Philippa Blackman

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Philippa (Pip) Blackman, I’m 35 and I’m a stay at home parent.

My Family

I live with my husband, 2 daughters plus a cat!

How long have I been a Special?

I attested on 4th January 2016.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

It is sometimes a struggle as I have so many other people to work around but if I know that I’m unlikely to be able to meet the hours one month, I can notify my Special Sergeant.  I’m often able to make up the hours in other months.

What do I like about being a Special?

The unpredictability of each shift – you never know what you will come across.  

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

Level 3 Public Order, Fast Roads, Emergency First Aid at Work

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

Early on in my Specials career I came in contact with someone who was heavily drug dependent for the first time in my life. He was experiencing hallucinations and was very distressed. The Special Sergeant that was supervising us at the time calmed him down and the triage car was called so that the Mental Health nurse could come and speak to him. We took him to the hospital for an assessment and I had an opportunity to talk to him about his situation. He was a genuinely lovely man with a troubled past.  As a civilian, if I’d seen him on the street I would have avoided him. It just goes to show, don’t judge a book by its cover because you don’t know what their story is.

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

I’ve learned more about the community that I live in, in the year that I’ve been a Special than I have in nearly 10 years of living here! If you’re passionate about helping to create a safe environment for your friends and family to live in, what better way to do it than volunteer some of your free time to join the Essex Police family!

Linda Cameron

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Linda Cameron and I am a Detention Officer with Essex Police.

My Family

I am a single parent of one son aged 11 years old.

How long have you been a Special?

I started in January 2015. I've also worked for Essex Police in a support staff role for the past 2 years.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

I make it work around my private life, work and family commitments as I love what I do.

Giving something back to the community keeps me going and being able to protect victims of crime.

You will be surprised how quickly and easily you can fit in 16 hours.

What do you like about being a Special?

Being able to give something back to the community and supporting vulnerable young people.

Backing up regular officer and my Special colleagues is also rewarding. I enjoy getting out and meeting the public when I can, particularly at community events.

What are you trained as in the Special Constabulary?

Front line officer the intoximeter  procedure. Speed gun, self dedence, first aid.

An interesting thing you’ve done whilst working as a Special:

Warrants with the Police OnLine Investigation Team (POLIT), protecting vulnerable people and children. Tendring Hundred show, V Festival.

Advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials:

Be open and honest and ENJOY!!! You get back what you put in.

I find time around my social life to live #MyOtherLife

Victoria Matthews

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Victoria Matthews, I’m 28 years old and am an Essex Police staff member in the Fingerprint Bureau.

My Family

I currently live at home with my mum and dad.

How long have I been a Special?

I attested on 4th January 2015.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

I work it around my social life and work life by booking in at the beginning of the month for what duties I can definitely do. I normally do duties on weekend evenings because it works best for me. I can always find time, even if it’s just a few hours one evening each week.

What do I like about being a Special?

I really enjoy the variety. I like not knowing what a shift is going to be like, even events that have been planned can completely change based on the situation. Being a Special gives me the ability to try new things and each job is completely different from the last.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

I am not part of any specialist units but I am POLIT trained (Police Online Investigation Team) which enables me to help with searches and warrants. I am also on speed gun training this month.

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

My favourite thing so far has been getting a chance to go out as an observer of the Mental Health Triage car. It was really rewarding to see how we work with the NHS nurses to help people who are really suffering. It bought me back to my first shift where a drunken female had taken an overdose and we had to take her up to hospital, she was hysterical, depressed and thought she had run out of options. I really built up a rapport with her and convinced her to let us help her.

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

It’s a really exciting time to be joining the Specials because of all of the new opportunities available in the different sections of the police. My advice would be don’t limit yourself, grab every opportunity with both hands and just enjoy every second.

Rosie Finnis

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Rosie Finnis, I’m 21 and currently studying a History Degree whilst part time waitressing.

How long have I been a Special?

Since June 2016 (9 months).

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

I work my special shifts around my restaurant shifts so do mostly night shifts with the police or whenever I have a day off with no other plans I go into the station and help out wherever I can.

What do I like about being a Special?

I mostly enjoy working alongside a great team of regulars and helping victims of the crime. I have worked with POLIT (Police Online Investigation Team) on a number of warrants and have arrested perpetrators of online grooming of children. One particular occasion we arrested a male for making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children and uncovered a cannabis cultivation whilst searching his house for which he was further arrested for. I have also helped with sexual assault incidents and the rape of a person under 18 which meant taking first accounts, early evidence, taking them to the SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) in Brentwood and liaising with specialist officers. It’s all about helping people who need us.

I also love the variety of one single shift and how this differs to the next. It is also a role that is completely different to my day job. I get a taste for the policing world and get the opportunity to bring offenders to justice.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

I am currently not specifically trained in a speciality but I am often involved in covert systems.

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

I couldn’t recommend the Special Constabulary enough, whether that’s with the view of joining the regulars or as a way of building confidence, making new friends or serving the community.

My advice would be if you join get involved with as many aspects as possible and give everything a go, especially working alongside the Local Policing Team. Joining the Specials is the best thing I have ever done.

Jordan Tuck

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Jordan Tuck, I’m 20 years old and I’m a sales assistant for GAME.

My Family

I live with my mum and dad.

How long have I been a Special?

1 Month.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

I have a varied work pattern that means I can do varied duties for the Specials. Sometimes I will have to make up time for shifts. I also make sure I plan my duties in advance so I have time to see family and friends and still have a good social life.

What do I like about being a Special?

The things you see that otherwise you'd miss entirely and there's nothing like a blue light run.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

Only the Basics.

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

Mostly it's all interesting, the stand out so far would be having to climb through a window to open the front door to a high risk missing person.

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

It takes dedication and perseverance to be a Special but it is one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do. You'll make a real difference to people’s lives.

I find time around my career to live #MyOtherLife

Kirsty Lines

My name, age and what I do for a living

Kirsty Lines, 32 and work in London for an Asset Management Company.

My Family

I live with my partner and my Jack Russell called Beau.

How long have I been a Special?

Since Oct 2016.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

I give up most Friday evenings to complete my 16 hours.

What do I like about being a Special?

I like the excitement of not knowing what the shift can bring. I love being able to help the people in the community in which I live in.

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

Just do it, if you fancy it, sign up. It the best thing I've done!

Carrie Littlefield

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Carrie Littlefield, I am 21 years old and currently work for Essex Police in the Crime Bureau, as a Crime Bureau Investigator. However I am transferring over to Brentwood Major Crime Department as an Investigating Officer in the near future.

My Family

I currently live with my partner of 2 years in Colchester. We have two house rabbits. My Mum lives in Brentwood and my Dad lives in Grays. I also have an 11 year old chocolate Labrador; he lives with my Mum but often comes to stay for a few weeks.

How long have I been a Special?

A few weeks!

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

It can be tricky keeping on top of everything that needs doing, so I keep a diary and plan things far in advance so I always know what I am doing, what days I am specialing, and what days I have free. That way I can make plans with friends and family, and still make sure I have time to be a Special and some time for myself.

What do I like about being a Special?

I like that we work alongside the regular officers, and do the same work on division as they do (minus the paperwork). I like that we are there to offer additional support to the divisions when they are so short, and we are trusted to work alongside them when needed. 

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

I am trained as a Special Constable, I have not had any additional training as of yet.

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials: 

One bit of advice I would give would be to make sure it is something that you want to try, as the training is long, can be hard at times, and if you work full time can be tiring, especially when you finish a day’s work and then come home to extra studying.

If you’re not are not too sure about it, do a bit of research, speak to people about the role, or attend the Specials recruitment evenings that are available, so you at least have more of an insight into the role, and ultimately whether or not it would be something you want to do.

However it is very rewarding, knowing that you have achieved and completed the training, whilst trying to balance a career and a home life. 

Steve Pipe

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Steve Pipe, I’m 30yrs old and I am a Cabin Crew Manager.

My Family

I’m in a relationship. I live next door to my mum so get to see her on a regular basis with most of my close family living in the local area which means I can spend time with them when I’m at home.

How long have I been a Special?

I’ve been a Special for 9 Years, the last 4 as a Special Inspector. 

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

I fit my hours around a full time flying roster which also includes ground duty days at Heathrow as part of the role. I get a roster around the middle of the month so at this time I look at what family commitments I have then work out which duties I can support. If there are events that require police duties I look at these and see if there is any room in my working week to support them.

What do I like about being a Special?

I like the skills and experiences it has given me of which a lot convert to useable skills in my day job looking at conflict management and handling difficult situations. I like the fact I can offer my support at any time of the day and my work and support is always appreciated.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

As the Specials Inspector for the airport, I have started an additional program of training which allows us to support those dedicated officers working at the airport with the day to day policing and then any emergency situations which might occur. On top of this I have a full range of basic policing training to be able to deal with any incident we attend as the first responder. Now having been trained as a Response Driver I’m able to support regular officers with emergency response to incidents providing additional mobile patrols when on duty.

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

I was the first on scene and became the Bronze commander at an unexploded WW2 explosive device which was located by builders at a property. I was on scene with the MOD Disposal Team. We were responsible for making the area safe and putting in place cordons to protect the public whilst the devices were moved to a safe location before a comptroller explosion was carried out.

More recently I have been the first on scene to a Mental Health incident with our triage nurse where we were able to identify that a male was in serious need of medical assistance and support. As a qualified response driver we were able to attend and locate the male before he left the area so we could put a suitable treatment plan in place with other agencies.

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

I would suggest having a read through the application form and then submitting it, this is an amazing experience, gives you a real feeling of helping people and being able to give something back to the community as well as learning new skills for yourself which can be used outside of policing. If you’re still not sure then have a look at the website and think about coming out on the ride along scheme which will show you in more detail some of the work we do.

Rakesh Patel

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Rakesh Patel, I’m 34 and I work as Head of Compensation for Western Union.

My Family

I have a wife, Gini and a 3 month old daughter, Aria.

How long have I been a Special?

2 years.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands? 

My day job is very demanding with frequent international travels, but I plan ahead for the month and find, at least one weekend, I would come in and volunteer to help my regular colleagues and help reassure the community. 

What I like about being a Special?

I am able to meet different people from all walks of life and get to hear their experience and/or problems first hand. I am now able to apply what I learn as a Special in my day job. It also gives me a great pleasure knowing I am able to help the community I live in.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

999 Response officer/LPT.

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

On a cold winters night I spent 4 hours looking for a mental health patient who had walked away from a care home and was missing for almost 24 hours. I found him on the stroke of midnight and was able to safely bring him back to his care home, knowing he would receive the care he needed. This wasn't perhaps the most interesting thing but, by far, one of the most satisfactory things I have ever done.

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

If you have the desire to help your local community, there is no better way to do it than join as a Special Constable. If you have a day job, you would also be able to use the skills you learn as a volunteer police officer, in your full time job. 

Kelly Bingham

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Kelly Bingham, I’m 37 years old and I am a fire control operator. 

My Family

I live with my husband  who is a regular sergeant within Essex Police. 

How long have I been a Special?

I’ve been a Special for 15 years.  

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

I pre-plan everything that I do and do what works for me.  It is very flexible. 

What do I like about being a Special?

I have learnt new life skills and it has opened up a world that I never knew existed and I know I want to be a part of it to help people.  I have made new friends and a met a great bunch of people from all walks of life that I wouldn’t of done if I hadn’t have done this. 

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

Specials Inspector/Driving/Livescan Fingerprints/MDT/Public Order Level 3/Tutor/Interview Skills/ANPR Flight Case.

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

Part of my career background was event organising and management. I never thought I could use these types of skills within Essex Police. I was given the opportunity to put a large scale training operation together for the specials within my area. This training session involved regulars, PCSO, council’s, properties, vehicles, shops and more.

I set up fake scenarios within these properties with the volunteer staff so specials could train in a safe environment. Throughout the day we had observers who monitored the situations and gave feedback at the end of each scenario. It was a huge success and another 3 had followed since.

In my head specials/policing would be attending 999 but I was allowed to bring in something I had been trained at in my day job to the police and help others.  

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

You will learn a range of skills like no other.  Become more confident in yourself and will feel part of a huge team. Be trained to the highest standard and there are plenty of opportunities to expand your mind. It is the best thing I have ever done and I would not change any part of it.

Spencer Worth

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Spencer Worth, I’m 45 and work as a Head Chef.

My Family

I’m married with 2 Children.

How long have I been a Special?

I have been a Special Constable for about 12 years.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

I manage to fit in about 40 hours a month, which may seem a lot but it’s important to balance up home life and your work which in turn gives great flexibility to do any time during days, nights and weekends. However be prepared, it will require commitment.

What do I like about being a Special?

The variety and the fact you don't know what's next.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

I have a specialist role as a Licensed Search Officer as part of the Search Team. 

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

Every duty is different and you never know what you'll come across, you need to expect the unexpected! You are trained to deal with a variety of incidents, fortunately I have done most things over the years from inquisitive questioning at a stop check - which leads to credible intelligence for a conviction regarding kidnapping, first on scene to a mass fight with knives to obtaining forensic evidence in a murder enquiry to name a few.

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

Being a Special Constable is challenging but yet rewarding and certainly a life changing experience. 
You will learn new skills which can help in your current job role. But you will see and hear unpleasant things and this may not be for everyone.

Perry Woolner

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Perry Woolner, I’m aged 50 and I am the Senior Account Manager at a water company which involves being the single point of contact for anything water related, to our top 60 commercial & industrial customers.

My family

I am married with 3 children; my eldest is 25 and is self-employed utilising his HND in Horticulture, my daughter is 23 and is currently employed as a Detention Officer with Essex Police after completing her degree in Child Psychology and my youngest is 17 and currently taking his Private Pilot’s licence.

How long have I been a Special?

I’ve been with the Specials for around 25 years with a 12 month gap due to work commitments that took me away on a project in South Africa.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering a month with all my other demands?

Self-discipline and support from the people you leave at home. You have to be very organised and when you accept an invitation to provide assistance, you have to honour it so as not to adversely affect your other colleagues.

If you like to be busy and are an organised sort of person then it works, but occasionally you have to say no, to ensure you keep the balance of work, home life and specials under control.

What do I like about being a Special?

Personally, I like the variety and the opportunity to make a real difference when I’m on duty. I genuinely enjoy being able to assist our regular colleagues in the variety of tasks we can be sent to and helping people who are quite often in need of our support. A lot of police work can be sad and certainly makes you appreciate your home life.

It’s the opportunity to speak to a whole range of different people across our rich diverse customer base and engaging with them - I do like to chat to people !  

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary

Having recently undertaken an intense 3-week traffic law course, this now permits me to wear the white hat whilst on duty and proud to be part of the Casualty Reduction Section (CRS) where my duties are traffic related and through proactive policing in terms of speed checks, Drink/drive and drug/drive campaigns and targeting criminals using the road network, aiming to make our roads safer.   

From a driving perspective, I am trained in driving both marked and unmarked police cars, the police carrier and also I’m cycle trained. I’m hoping to receive my Standard Response course later this year.

I am a TRiM practitioner (Traumatic Risk Incident Management) assisting those officers that have been unfortunate enough to come across something rather unpleasant and thereby signposting appropriate assistance.

Finally, proud to be a Licensed Search Officer (LSO) and having successfully completed an intense 5-day course with the British Army followed by 2 further days with Essex Police.  

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

The most interesting and rewarding incident I attended was when I was undertaking a plain clothes/covert operational duty and I prevented a young lady being raped by a man in a disused room above a shop. 

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

I would strongly recommend it however you need to be honest with yourself in terms of the commitment you are agreeing to sign up to.

You should be prepared to treat the role with the same dedication as your paid job.

Dealing with, on occasions, some rather unpleasant incidents and people is not for everyone however it is very rewarding indeed to assist our regular colleagues in serving and protecting the people of our County.

Be aware that being a Special Constable and indeed a Regular officer, is not what it’s like on the TV. It’s a fantastic opportunity to give something back to your local community and become involved in situations that the vast majority of the public never see - see it as a privilege, not just something to tick a voluntary box.

Jo van Zanten

My name, age and what I do for a living

Jo van Zanten, thirty-several! (47), Command Team Support Officer

My Family

I have a 26-year-old daughter and 23-year-old son as well as one dog and two cats.

How long have I been a Special?

Ten and a half years

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

It’s easy to find time for something you enjoy but you do need good time management skills as well!

What do I like about being a Special?

Being a Special is a privilege.  I enjoy helping others, developing myself and facing challenges I wouldn’t otherwise face.  As a S/Inspector I enjoy supporting my team and helping them develop.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

The usual foundation training, intoximeter and how to carry out the Field Impairment Test.  I can also drive police cars (non-response) and carriers.

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special?

I have intervened in volatile domestic incidents and helped people in mental health crisis. I have reassured children who have been in a state of terror and I have comforted victims while we waited for an ambulance to arrive. I have comforted grieving relatives.  I have arrested those who cause harm to others and I have done what I can to ensure they are brought to justice.  I have taken drink drivers off the roads, preventing them from causing harm to themselves or anybody else.

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

Just go for it!  Do your prep, listen carefully to the questions at the interview and be prepared to work hard for what you want!

Wayne David

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Wayne David, I’m 30 and work as an Emergency Transport Attendent for St John Ambulance.

My Family

I am married and have 2 kids.

How long have I been a Special?

I have been a Special for 3 and half years.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

With work I do a 4 on 4 off rota, which leaves me plenty of time in my 4 days to fit my hours in. I tend to work in the school times so can see my children when they come back from school.

What do I like about being a Special?

I like the fact I get to meet so many new people. I get to help people all the time. I work alongside the police with my day job so it is nice to see things from both sides.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

At the moment I have not trained in any area, but I would like to do my traffic training to gain my white hat. I have a passion in the traffic side and enjoy dealing with those types of calls.

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

I have done a lot of interesting things whilst being a Special. I have had the pleasure to go up in the helicopter to see how they work, I have done a shift with the dog unit and have been out with the roads policing unit on a number of times.

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

I would jump at the chance; it is such a great opportunity and an amazing area to work in in your spare time. It is only 16 hours a month which is 2 shifts.

You will meet new people and gain skills whilst helping people along the way.

I find time because I care to live #MyOtherLife

Derek Hopkins

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Derek Hopkins and I’m a retired Fire Service Technical Officer.

My Family 

I have a very supportive wife of 25 years, 3 sons, 1 step son, 1 step daughter and 6 grandchildren. 

How long have I been a Special?

I’ve been a Special for 37 Years.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

Planning with and support from the wider family.

What do I like about being a Special? 

I enjoy the variety, challenge and opportunities. 

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary? 

I’m trained in various road policing skills and leadership.

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

Working with the Special Air Service (SAS), the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials 

Do it!! It will develop confidence, communication skills, conflict management and lots of other skills transferable into other parts of your life.

Dan O’Connell

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Dan O’Connell, I’m 35 and I work as Essex Police staff.

My Family

I live in Rayleigh with my girlfriend and two sons, Callum 14 and Jamie 12,  and I have two girls of my own, Emily 10 and Chloe 5. 

How long have I been a Special? 

I have been a Special Constable for nearly 10 years, working 8 of those on Response and community policing teams in Basildon. 18 months ago, I joined the Essex Police dog section and now work as part of the county wide resource. Every day I patrol different areas, but I do tend to work with handlers from the south of the county as that is the area I know best. However, we will travel to where the demand is for a dog section resource.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands? 

This does prove difficult at times, but as the minimal level of hours required is 16 hours a month, this can easily be spread over two 8 hours shifts in the month. On average I complete between 50 and 80 hours a month, so I tend to go out on duty more than just the two shifts. I try and complete a duty midweek, after I finish my day job. This makes it a bit easier to complete such high hours.

What do I like about being a Special? 

Every day is different. You can go from the excitement of a blue light run to a suspect on premises (burglary in progress) to a domestic incident whereby you have to help safeguard a vulnerable victim of crime. In the next breath, you may be rushing to that elderly person who has just collapsed in the street and you have to help save a life. It’s great being part of a big team that strive towards policing threat, harm and risk incidents and making a difference to someone’s life.

Most of all however, I like the opportunity and freedom to be visible to the public. It’s great to be out there on patrol in high crime areas, being accessible to that person who wants a bit of advice about problems in their neighbourhood and to be out there preventing crime and keeping our public safe.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary? 

As I Special Constable, I am trained in many things. The law is the most obvious, but also how to deal with conflict in the correct way and how to recognise threat harm and risk. I am also trained in response driving and hopefully soon I will be trained in Initial Phase Pursuit. This skill is essential for me to assist my regular colleagues on the dog section, so driving can be shared when on a job. This skill also supports the role I do with the Mental Health Triage team, to enable us to take a trained mental health practitioner to the scene of an incident as quickly as possible. 

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

I have been involved in many interesting incidents throughout my career. I have talked people off of bridges over the top of the A127 in Basildon, I have been first on scene for a collapse in the street, twice, whereby I have had to give CPR, and I have passed next of kin messages, telling people that their loved ones are not coming home. 

I’ve also helped in other ways; once with a lady who was having her child taken away from her due to mental health issues, who doted on her child but just couldn’t manage her finances. She needed just that little bit of help. I out of my own pocket put food in her cupboards and sorted her broken boiler out with the council, who appeared within the hour to fix it, which enabled her a bit of time to prove she was a good mum.  

I have taken an elderly victim of crime home and realised that they were struggling decorating the house in time for their wife’s return from hospital, so organised help from a lot of off duty officers and donations from local business to assist in the redecoration, I have caught burglary suspects shortly after they had broken into someone’s home, I have been sworn at, spat at all because I wear a uniform – these people only know me as a police officer, they don’t know the real me, that’s why it doesn’t affect me, I know I am doing good and I know I am doing my bit for my colleagues, and most importantly, the public I swore on oath 10 years ago to protect.

Everything I do when on duty is interesting, even the paperwork at times!!!

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials: 

The only bit of advice I can give to anyone thinking about volunteering in this role as a Special Police Constable is to do it. Yes, at times we see some horrible scenes, there’s days when you go home thinking “How can a human do that to another?” There are times, as I have done, you will scoop your own child out of their bed and just lay there wide awake looking at them with a tear in your eye due to something that happened on that shift, but believe me, the warmth you feel, when you have protected that vulnerable person from any harm, when you have caught that burglar running from a house with someone’s possessions, when you have talked that person off the edge, preventing them from taking their life, or you have just been the difference to someone in their time of need is unbelievable. 

I am proud of what I do; I know my family are proud of me too. I do not do it for money, I do this because I want to, I want to protect people, I want to prevent crime in my county, I want to arrest that person intent on affecting someone’s life and I want to help change the way some members of our community see the police service. 

I do this because I want to, could you??

Rachel Harris

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Rachel Harris, I’m aged 46 and I am an Accountant.

My Family

My family is Lee, my husband, Joshua my son and a dog called Blue and a cat called Tilly!!!

How long have I been a Special?

I’m very new to being a Special and attested in January 2017.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

Plan, plan and plan.  I have a busy schedule at work and I also volunteer for Age Concern. I try and do a shift a week on either a Friday or Saturday.

What do I like about being a Special?

Meeting so many diverse people, helping people in need, every shift is different and you don't know what to expect. Making a difference

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

I assisted in the execution of a drugs warrant which led to the removal of £30k of cannabis from the streets of Essex.

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

Apply! Don't procrastinate over it too much. If it’s something you have thought about, then do it. You will enjoy it and you will make some great friends along the way!

Nick Reed

My name, age and what I do for a living?

My Name is Nick Reed, I am 31-years-old, I moved from Wales to seek work opportunities and currently manage a luxury retail technology store.

My Family?

I live with my soulmate, and have three children – a five-year-old daughter, a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter and a son who is seven months old.

How long have I been a Special?

I have been a Special for four months

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

Some people like to go out to the pub for a beer or clubbing, I like to use my free time to support the community. 

What do I like about being a Special?

Every day is different you meet some amazing people with some amazing life stories, I love the feeling you get when you have made a difference to someone’s life no matter how small.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

I have had fast roads training, emergency first aid training and self-defence training

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special?

The most interesting thing for me so far was supporting the regulars dealing with a man who had mental health issues, he had been excessively drinking and running down the street naked. When we located the man, he was in the bushes all cut up and naked, and in serious need of medical attention.
 
We carried the man through brambles and barbed wire to get him to a safer environment and wrapped him up in foil awaiting triage. We took the man to hospital where we gave further medical attention and supported the hospital with him.
 
If it wasn’t for the great work from the first officer locating the man, he probably wouldn’t have been with us today. 

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

The application process can seem somewhat daunting and is a long process. When the application process has finally been completed, there is very intensive training which tests mental and physical abilities. Completing this alongside your family life and normal job can be tiring and challenging. 
 
Despite the length of time that I have been a Special, I keep asking myself the same question, why didn’t I do this sooner?
 
If I can do it you can to!

Nick O'Connell

My name, age and what I do for a living

Nick O’Connell, I’m 32 and I am a gas heating engineer for Ideal Boilers.

My Family

I am married and have three young daughters.

How long have I been a Special?

I have been a Special for 11 years.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

I fit my role in the Specials when I have a free day off or when I am not working the next day. I average around 20-35 hours a month.

What do I like about being a Special?

I like being a Special to help the local policing teams and I like being able to help the community and to meet new people.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

I am trained the same as a regular officer to carry out the same duties as my colleagues and have been trained on Tint Man (a device that tests the tint on a window) and Section 165 training to seize uninsured vehicles.

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

The most recent interesting thing I have done is reuniting a young child that went missing with their parents.

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

My advice would be to sign up. You will love every minute of going out on duty as no job you attend is the same and is very rewarding.

George Garlick

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is George Garlick, I’m 20 and I work in food retail, in charge of fresh food.

My Family

My family are proud that I have become a Special Constable, especially at a young age.

How long have I been a Special?

Since December 28, 2017.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

I work set shifts five days a week. So I do my volunteering on my days off.

What do I like about being a Special?

Making new friends and supporting colleagues with the local community issues.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

I’m a standard trained Special working towards independent patrol status and getting the standard driving permit.

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

Early on in my career as a Special, I had to use my first aid training when a man who had harmed himself started to have a fit. My adrenaline kicked in and thanks to the first aid training we receive as Specials, I was able to keep the patient alive.

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

Don’t look back, the training can be hard at times but the minute you receive your warrant card it’s a sense of achievement.

Jason Atkins

My name, age and what I do for a living

My name is Jason Atkins, I’m 35-years-old and I am a Product Manager.

My Family

I live with my partner.

How long have I been a Special?

I have been attested for seven months.

How do I fit 16 hours of volunteering in a month with all my other demands?

I typically work full LPT shifts matching the regular shift patterns at weekends and additional hours with an independent Special during the weeknights following my day job.

What do I like about being a Special?

The work is very different from anything I have ever done before, coming from an engineering/IT background.  It enables me to engage with the public and feel like I am making a difference. 

The skills I have gained while being a Special have translated into my day job, for example dealing with conflict and being placed in stressful situations.

Equally my day job has enabled me to incorporate experiences into my role as a Special.  Being a Special is fast paced and very rewarding.

What am I trained as in the Special Constabulary?

I have the training required to be attested as a Special Constable. To date, I have attended additional training to enable me to work and close a fast road and to seize vehicles for specific reasons.  Training is constantly ongoing to enable me to enhance my skill set.  

An interesting thing I’ve done whilst working as a Special

I attended a large scale public order incident which enabled me to put both my soft skills and law into practice to enable effective control of the situation.  It was great to see how these types of incidents progress and are taken control of.
 

My advice for someone wanting to get into the Specials

Don’t think about it, just apply and begin your journey to becoming a Special.