The Special Constabulary at Greater Manchester Police (GMP) is made up of volunteer officers who give up their spare time to assist with policing across local communities.
The volunteer officers are known as Special Constables and are a vital part of the police service, helping to prevent crime and interacting with the diverse communities across Greater Manchester.
Specials undertake five months of training before they are attested and given their police authorities, which are the same as a regular police officer, including warrant of arrest. Training then continues for 12-24 months, until they are signed off as ‘Independent Patrol’ qualified.
The minimum requirement for the volunteers is 16 hours a month and many fit this in alongside full time paid employment. Since the COVID crisis, the Specials of GMP have gone above and beyond, donating on average 17 hours a week. The total weekly commitment from GMP’s Specials equates to 50 full time officers; a monumental effort from all involved.
Chief Superintendent Stuart Ellison said: “The skills and experience that Special Constables often bring are invaluable to GMP. They play a vital role in policing Greater Manchester and helping build relationships, which only makes our communities stronger.
“Each recruit has their own personal reasons for volunteering, and it’s always great to hear how each Special wants to make a difference.
“The fact they volunteer in their own time is commendable, and it’s great to see their dedication and commitment to supporting GMP, and even more so during these uncertain times. The hours and dedication since lockdown commenced is commendable, and the support they are providing is invaluable.”
Specials Sergeant David Rudd of the Wigan District, is the Head of Design and Technology at a High School in Wigan. Since the lockdown period, he has swapped classroom patrols, for COVID -19 patrols on the streets of Greater Manchester, dedicating his time to his role as a Special Sergeant.
David has given over 173 hours over the past few weeks, and his daughter also volunteers as a Special for Merseyside Police. He said: “I wanted to volunteer as a Special to use my experience as a teacher and parent to help the public and also for personal development to expand my knowledge, and do something for the good of my local community.
“I have been setting my pupils work from home, so this has given me much more free time which I have been able to dedicate towards the privilege of supporting my colleagues at GMP.
“I will always be grateful for the opportunities I have already been given during my time as a volunteer. These include, passing various driving qualifications and assisting on a firearms trainer’s course. I have benefitted by learning from the incredibly dedicated people I work alongside. GMP has given me more opportunities than I ever anticipated, and I would say to anyone thinking of doing it, just do it, you won’t regret it!”
Special Constable Rachel Greenlees of the Stockport District, is currently furloughed from her job as a Regional Inventory Specialist, and has volunteered over 196 hours since the lockdown commenced. Rachel has been a Special for two years and said: “I always wanted to join the Police, so I signed up as a Special to test the water, before applying to be a regular officer. Since signing up, I started to enjoy my full-time job more and more, so now I get the best of both worlds, working full time and volunteering as a Special in my spare time.
“My role as a Special is so rewarding and not one day is the same. I feel really proud when I put on my uniform and know I get to give something back, and volunteering during lockdown especially has really helped give me a reason to get up and allowed me to play my part in helping my local community at these difficult times.”
Special Constable Thomas Stanford of the Bolton District, was attested as a Special in July 2019. He works in the construction industry, but due to the guidance around COVID-19, has been unable to work since lockdown commenced. Instead, Thomas has been dedicating his time to volunteer a significant amount of hours each week, and has given up over 214 hours of his time over the past six weeks to support GMP.
Thomas said: “I always wanted to be in the Police and volunteering as a Special has given a great insight into the responsibilities and demand Police Officers face on a daily basis.
“I feel extremely grateful my role enables me to help local communities, and support individuals who have been victims of crime. Last week I attended a burglary and we were able to return the stolen property to the rightful owners, and moments like this are great for all involved. It is always good to get a positive result, and I feel really proud I get to play a role in this.
“I have since applied to be a full time officer, and have been offering as much time as I can since I am unable to work at the moment to try and help with the increased demand we are facing.”
Chief Officer of the GMP Special Constabulary Mike Walmsley said: “Specials wear the same uniform, attend the same incidents and face the same risks that paid colleagues do. In the current climate, you could understand people not wanting to put themselves on the frontline. What we have seen from our officers is a consistent commitment to serve our communities, regardless of the risks and continue to help keep our local communities safe.
“It is humbling to hear the difference that our officers have made, and the significant amount of hours of their own time they are giving up to support colleagues in these uncertain times. Whether this is through positive engagement with the public, arresting people who are still intent on committing crime or attending COVID related incidents.
“I would also like to recognise the families of our officers, who without their support, may have struggled to volunteer such a high amount of hours.”