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Special Constabulary help keep communities safe this festive season

News   •   Dec 19, 2018 06:00 GMT

Special Constable Shane Clarke

Special Constables will be volunteering their time during this festive period to help play a pivotal role in policing London.

Becoming a Special Constable – a volunteer police officer - gives you the chance to work alongside regular police officers, bringing skills and experiences from your day job to give something back to London.

Their job is very demanding, but also rewarding, as explained by Sergeant Shane Clarke from the Met’s Special Constabulary (MSC):

“I work as a postman in the mornings, Monday to Saturday, delivering mail to residents in Barnet. During the afternoons and most evenings I come straight in, so I can spend as much of my spare times as possible policing in Colindale.

“Since 2014, I have volunteered for over 12,000 hours to the Met. I have helped to train and develop new officers and most days I will take out a team of four or more MSC officers to help regular officers deal with their emergency calls. I also support initiatives to tackle knife crime and most recently the increase in aggravated burglaries and I am able utilise my skills as a response driver on the response teams.

“Recently, I helped to organise a Special Constable led operation to tackle gang-related violence in the Grahame Park Estate in Barnet. During the deployment, special constables carried out intelligence led stop and searches which resulted in the arrest of a juvenile carrying a large machete, which may have been used to injure someone. Two other males were arrested for possession of cannabis and for breaching a Community Behaviour Order. It was satisfying to be able to make a visible difference and help make the borough safer.

“We face varying challenges, including making split second decisions. On one particular occasion when I was on patrol with another special constable, we attended a call where a male was armed with a knife. We attempted to talk with him, however the male stepped back and placed his arms behind his back. Reverting back to my officer safety training, I quickly grabbed hold of his arms to limit his movement, causing the male to drop a kitchen knife on the floor. We restrained the male on the ground before placing him in handcuffs and he was then arrested. It was satisfying that through our quick actions, no one was injured and a knife was removed from the streets.

“I very much enjoy being a special and the sense of pride that comes from helping victims and making a noticeable difference towards keeping our community safe.”

To become a Special Constable you will have to give up at least 16 hours of your spare time each month, which equates to around 200 hours each year.

Specials wear the same uniform and have the same powers as regular police officers. Based right across London, they are involved in all aspects of policing, enjoying a variety of roles and carrying out duties such as foot and vehicle patrols, talking about safety and crime in schools, conducting house to house enquiries and much more.

During training you are coached on how to risk assess situations which you may encounter. Your training course runs for 20 days across 12 weekends, or can be completed as an intensive Monday to Friday course over four weeks.

Although you won’t be paid, your training and duties will give you unique experiences, new and valuable skills, plus a huge sense of achievement of doing something for your community. We pay expenses so you will not be out of pocket for giving your time to us.

You will also receive free travel on London transport, including buses, underground, Croydon Tramlink, DLR and London Overgound routes, excluding National Rail. You will have access to Met staff discounts schemes and will be eligible to join the Metfriendly Society.

Special Constables who have completed 200 hours of operational service and have gained their Independent Patrol Status (IPS) can apply to become a new Police Constable. Due to their policing experience, specials are not required to have the Certificate in Knowledge of Policing (CKP).

Specials who live within one of the London Boroughs or the City of London can receive a 50 per cent rebate to the Greater London Authority (GLA) element of their Council Tax payment. This only applies to serving specials who have completed 200 hours of operational service within 12 months at the required standard and aren't subject to any kind of disciplinary process.

As of November 2018 the Met has 1,979 Special Constables of which 578 are female and 1,401 are male.