October 18th, 2008

Saving the Bacon

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

I used to love my job. There really is nothing better than front-line policing. It’s not a job that most people could do, and there is a certain buzz when you’re actually out there, making a difference.

I enjoy my current role. It’s removed from the front-line but I like to think much less removed than most of the other policing roles. I also like to think I make a difference here too, helping those on the front-line where I worked for so long.

As much as I loved the role of a front-line officer, I would not do it for free. The remuneration for being a cop is reasonably good. OK, you’ll never get rich, but you don’t join the job to make a wad of cash. Plus the pension is was really great (as I am shortly to discover).

Special Constables are front-line volunteers who do the job for nothing, zilch, bugger all, well, apart from the occasional expenses. They don’t get paid. They give up their free time to come in, put the uniform on and go out there. Depending on their role they can face exactly the same hazards & danger as the rest of us. OK, they have the same equipment, but their training is not as thorough as us regulars & they can still end up on the wrong end of an assault or injury.

Sometimes, I’m amazed how much we rely on them. Specials work an awful lot of weekends, just when we are at our busiest. Some work late turns finishing well into the wee small hours, some work whole night shifts. Some come in for a few hours & lots come in and do a whole 8 or 10 hour shift.

Sure, there are lots of things they can’t do. Of necessity, due to their training, they can’t deal with everything but they’ll take most things.

Last weekend was just such an example. We had 4 teams of specials on, and had it not been for them we’d have been in some serious trouble.

You get weekends when, for some unknown reason, the wheel comes off & we are rushed off our feet. Violence & disorder just seems to rocket, call it full moon, call it mob mentality, I don’t know. There are just days when unrelated incidents all involve disorder, all over the place.

The specials took the lions share of the jobs, this was because we had a major job where the shift made some arrests and 80% of our front-line resources were then tucked up & off the road for the whole shift. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop everyone else fighting. You can’t tell the 999 operators just to tell folk we haven’t got anyone & can they ring back tomorrow; the calls still keep coming.

We had about 10 specials working, this was almost as many as the whole night shift that paraded. 8 of them had to stay on past their 2am shift, 3 of them didn’t get off until 7 in the morning. One of them was assaulted during the shift. It’s not unusual for them to be kept on shift after their duty time; we rely on it, often.

They worked really hard last weekend. Most of them have full-time jobs.

I enjoyed the job but, nah, I wouldn’t do it for nothing.

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  1. Chris says:

    As someone training to be a Special I’m glad to hear we’re appreciated, however that a group of people who comprise around 10% of the manpower of a force can be so needed is rather worrying! Just goes to show how many officers are off the front lines…

    October 18th, 2008 at 19:59

  2. Tony F says:

    A friend of mine’s sister used to be a Special, she was 5′ nought. She used to go into the worst pub brawls and sort them out.

    October 18th, 2008 at 21:28

  3. MarkUK says:

    I’m what you might call “special ambulance” – a Community First Responder. Unfortunately we don’t get anywhere near the training that an Ambulance Technician gets and, as we use our own cars, couldn’t carry the gear. (The level of training depends on your Ambulance Trust – ours is very restrictive in what it will allow us to use.)

    In our area, we don’t do kids (under 12), we don’t knowingly do trauma and we don’t usually do alcohol. However, we do heart attacks, cardiac arrest, epileptic siezures, diabetic emergencies, difficulty in breathing, “collapse” etc.

    Getting a uniform & expenses would be great. Mind you, we respond from home so we can go about our business until the alarm goes – usually just as you sit down to dinner!

    Why do I do it for no pay? Well, I’ve done First Aid for years and this is a natural extension. It’s also quite a change from the day job. It does help at work, as I’m Safety Officer and a first aider and I get more experience in a month than most first aiders at work get in 10 years.

    Would I do it full-time for nowt? Not a hope!

    October 18th, 2008 at 22:08

  4. blueknight says:

    In my Force it depended on where you worked. Some stations had really good specials who would attend jobs and had almost as much knowledge as some PCs.
    At another City station, the specials were terrible. I wouldn’t have trusted them to patrol my back garden
    I got lumbered with one of the ‘bad’ specials who was 5 feet tall and 5 feet round. Very untidy, shoes had never seen polish, and because of ‘putting on a bit of weght over xmas, the fleece and fluorry jacket would not zip up. The expression ‘a sack of sh*t tied up with string’ described the situation and this was the first day out on patrol.

    October 19th, 2008 at 00:12

  5. Altercation says:

    What I like about the Specials at my station is that there’s no (less) politics with them. They just get on with whatever they’re sent to or whatever you ask them to. They know their own limitations and if they don’t know how to do something they just say so. In emergencies though they’ll just hash through whatever it might be. They all have such a great attitude to policing.

    I certainly think that Specials are better than PCSOs because the Specials are only limited by experience and not the law.

    October 19th, 2008 at 16:09

  6. A special in Notts says:

    This is the second time this weekend that I have been thanked for being a special. Was working a late shift on the Saturday night and all the regulars took time to say thanks to me for coming in. Got an arrest in, worked all the way through custody with him and then left, three hours after I had intended to. It is great. But sheesh, does it mess up your sleep patterns sometimes:-p

    October 19th, 2008 at 17:56

  7. PT COP says:

    Done it for 13 years. Used to do it for the buzz, now I do it for the relationship with the people I work with. OK, and the occasional buzz ;)

    October 20th, 2008 at 04:46

  8. Agent Douane says:

    I was a Special from 1985 to 1987. I was interested in joining the Police but then a job as an Assistant Officer in Customs & Excise came a long and I spent years in uniform intercepting passengers for smuggled goods whether it was cigarattes, indecent material, drugs etc being bought into the country. It must’ve given me an advantage. To join as an AO one had to have 5 O’levels including English and Maths and I never had the Maths and the guidelines then were quite strict. I have often wondered if being a Special helped me into Customs or whether someone misread my exam grades! As a Special we had one meeting a week on a particular topic of Policing from aspects of Judges Rules, then PCEA to issue of HORTIs and driving offences to War Duties. Looking at old photos now we had no body armour, just a regular blue shirt, tie, trousers, tunic, flat peaked hat (Helmets were for Regulars only, a much prized possession) a Ganex and truncheon. My time there was a good investment. With regard to office politics, the previous writer is right, it didn’t exist or was very tame and where it did exist was aimed at other stations as in a bit of rivalry. In my current job it is dreadful and you wish these people would get there life together.

    October 25th, 2008 at 20:10

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