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The University of Cumbria has joined forces with Cumbria Constabulary in its bid to recruit more special constables, encouraging its staff and students to consider volunteering in this important role.
The Special Constabulary is made up of men and women of all ages, from all walks of life, varied ethnic backgrounds and all sections of the community. Special constables are ordinary people who want to actively help improve the quality of life for their communities.
The University of Cumbria and Cumbria Constabulary already work in partnership with the university’s Institute of Policing and Criminal Justice Studies delivering a range of policing courses to students and serving police officers.
Chief Constable Stuart Hyde is also a member of the University of Cumbria’s Board of Directors, so is well placed to see the advantages of this new initiative to both organisations. He says:
“The job of a special constable should never be underestimated and we need more people to get involved with the constabulary to make a positive difference to their local area. It takes a lot for someone to choose to dedicate their spare time for the benefit of others but it can be incredibly rewarding.
“Special constables play a crucial role in fighting crime and making our streets safer. They volunteer a minimum of four hours per week and form a vital link between their community and regular police officers. They take part in front-line police work, spending most of their time on the streets, doing intelligence-based patrols in crime hotspots or taking part in crime-prevention initiatives. This could mean anything from keeping town centres safe at night through to conducting house-to-house enquiries or helping prevent vulnerable members of the community from becoming victims of crime.”
The university offers a range of policing courses and some of its students have already become involved as volunteer special constables, with 24 of them on the policing foundation degree being sworn in at police headquarters in Penrith in October 2011.
Robert Ewin, who is studying FdSc Policing (Community Safety) at the university has just been awarded ‘Special Constable of the Year 2011’ by Cumbria Constabulary and has completed over 2000 hours in voluntary roles so far.
Andy Butler is a member of staff in the university’s Penrith library. He has been volunteering as a Special for six years and is now Special Inspector for Penrith and Eden.
“For me, being a Special is about putting something back into the community,” Andy explains. “The skills I have learnt in the time I have worked for the Constabulary have not only become transferrable but also helped me gain the experience that is needed for the day job I do at the university.
“As I am now a supervisor in both roles, they complement each other in a way which benefits both organisations. Whilst supervising university staff is different from supervising a team of special constables, the core leadership skills are very much the same.”
Specials live within the communities they serve and are well placed to investigate and solve local crimes and find solutions to local problems. Their flexibility, often working at evenings and weekends, gives forces the extra resources they need to deal with the issues that really matter to local people such as speeding, graffiti, trespassing and underage drinking.
Specials have to complete a training programme, after which they have the same powers as regular police officers and wear the same uniform. There are over 14,000 of these extraordinary people in the country, recruited locally by all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
If you are interested in becoming a special constable in your community you can find more information on the Cumbria Constabulary website www.cumbria.police.uk