A Special Career Made Even More Special
22nd April 2010
For the past year Northern Constabulary has been working on a dedicated project to make the Special Constabulary even more special.
The forcewide project has been running since June last year. Its aims are to review and enhance recruitment, role, deployment, support and training of the Force's Special Constabulary.
The Special Constable project is co-ordinated by Project Manager Neil Hillyard and PC Carole MacDonald, both of whom visited stations across the Force area to speak to as many Specials as possible, in a bid to learn their views on the training, development and deployment opportunities available to them.
The response from the Special Constabulary was hugely encouraging, with Specials giving up their own time, once again, to attend these meetings.
Follow up visits are planned over the coming months, which will continue to provide the co-ordinators with a font of information and this will be used to shape the project's priorities.
One of the changes already brought about by the project is a new training programme, which has now been standardised across the Force, streamlined and condensed into an intensive five day course at Force Headquarters.
The first group of Specials to have undertaken and successfully completed the updated training course were officially sworn in by a local Justice of the Peace at Northern Constabulary Force HQ last week.
Project Manager Neil Hillyard said: "Special Constables are a valuable resource to support local police officers and contribute to our community policing model across the Highlands and Islands.
"The new training course is an opportunity for us to greatly enhance the skills and knowledge of the Specials and ensure they are well equipped for various operational duties in any part of the Force area."
Two Special Constables who recently completed the course spoke openly about the training programme and how it has prepared them for life on the streets with their regular colleagues.
Martin Mackay, 21, a full time dry-side leisure attendant with Inverness Leisure, completed the new course last week to become a fully qualified Special Constable.
He said: "The course itself was great. I felt assured that we had received the highest level of training possible before going out onto the streets.
"I am really looking forward to going into the city for the first time as a Special to help out people in the community, alongside regular Police colleagues."
He added: "Officer safety training was brilliant, while at the same time demanding. I also enjoyed the point duty (traffic) training, which was not as easy as I had previously thought. You have to put a lot of thought into things or you could lose control very quickly.
"I just can't wait to get started now, which could be at the weekend. It's a very exciting prospect."
At 44-years-old Eileen Mackay, a care home manager in Dornoch, thought her Policing dream had passed her by. However, she says she is delighted to have been given the chance to realise her ambition through her involvement with the Special Constabulary.
She said: "I initially thought at 44 I would be too old, so when I realised that was not the case I was delighted. I originally wanted to join Strathclyde Police when I was 18 but that didn't materialise.
"Someone then mentioned to me that I should enquire about joining the Special Constabulary, so I called Northern Constabulary and the rest is history."
She added: "The course itself was fantastic. I have been on many training courses in my professional career, but none as detailed and as structured as this.
"The content of the course was delivered very well and it kept everyone's attention throughout. There was a lot of practical learning involved which was very useful.
"I now feel confident about going out on the streets. I thought we would be learning a lot on the job like you sometimes have to do in the care sector due to staff shortages, but the course was very intensive and we learned so much.
Project Manager, Neil Hillyard, added: "We have put together a very comprehensive training programme that enables new Special Constables to make a highly effective contribution within our communities.
"We are always looking for individuals who feel they want to make a contribution to the lives of the communities in which they live. The Special Constables who have come through the training process at Northern Constabulary are motivated and enthusiastic individuals, with a variety of skills and qualities which are welcomed by the Force."
Northern Constabulary's investment in its Special Constabulary is crucial in terms of enhancing the Force's community policing model, providing invaluable support to the Force's regular officers and highlights how valuable a resource the Specials are to the Force.
Special Constables are dedicated and enthusiastic individuals who want to make life better within their own communities, whilst providing support to their regular colleagues.
If you would like to enquire about becoming a Special Constable please contact Northern Constabulary Headquarters and ask to speak to Irene Fox on 01463 720318 or visit the Force website - www.northern.police.uk
* Special Constables have the same powers of arrest as regular Constables.
* A new three stage training process was developed through the project:
* Stage 1 - Pre-read document - after the recruitment process is complete, new applicants are sent a detailed pre-read which contains information about the Force, Special Constable duties, policing activities, police powers, diversity and common crimes.
* Stage 2 - Central Induction Course - A five day induction course at Force HQ, Inverness forms a mandatory part of the new programme. This course gives individuals the basic skills required to be deployed in operational policing roles once they have returned to their station.
* Stage 3 - Local training - Ten, one hour training sessions have been devised and will be delivered by local co-ordinators monthly throughout the year on a rolling basis. Although this is mandatory for new individuals, all existing Specials are welcome to attend these training events. A comprehensive training assessment and operational skills log has also been created to record the classroom a practical training sessions. This will be updated as experience is gained in a wide variety of Police work.