Meet The Beat – Special Constable Chris Allen, Sedgley Police Station, Dudley LPU
This is the first of a new feature I’m starting on the blog called ‘Meet The Beat’. In each little interview I’ll be playing a mix between Paxman, Snow and Parkinson asking people from various roles in West Midlands Police about what they do, what they don’t do and what they’d like to do.
The aim of the feature is to give you an idea about how diverse our operation is, to introduce you to the people working on your behalf and to try and dispel some common misconceptions held about different roles in the police.
To kick off I’ve had a chat with SC Chris Allen to find out a little more about what a Special Constable does.
How long have you been in the job and what do you do as well as being a Special Constable?.
I was promoted to Acting Section Officer, Special Constabulary Supervisor in May of this year. However, I’ve been a member West Midlands Police Special Constabulary for about 3 years now. In my full time job I’m a Property Services Management Trainee for Wolverhampton Homes, which is an Arm’s Length Management Organisation of Wolverhampton City Council.
Why did you join the police?
I joined as a Special Constable to give something back to my community and to help protect the community, the best way of doing this I thought was being a Special Constable or a Police Officer. I also want to get a taste of policing and to see if I would like it before applying for a full time position. I hasten to add, I loved it from day one.
Tell us about your current role, where do you work, what do you do and what does the work involve?
My current role as Acting Section Officer, I’m responsible for a team of 10 Special Constables based at Sedgley Police Station. My work involves organising my officers to help police key local events and neighbourhood priorities such as anti-social behaviour or recent bonfire events, etc. I’m responsible for organising any local training events and to liaise and organise the team with any up and coming duties, tasking, etc. I’m also responsible for liaising with the Neighbourhood Teams (NHTs), to gain knowledge of key hot spot areas and local issues and see how the extra resource of a team of Specials can contribute to the policing of local neighbourhoods.
Why did your current role appeal to you?
I wanted to give something back to my community. Progressing to the role of a Section Officer, Special Constabulary Supervisor has allowed me to become more involved with the community with regards to tackling local issues but also it has starkly pointed out many challenges that face the modern day police service with government cut backs and issues that come with that.
What’s your shift pattern like?
As a member of the Special Constabulary, I can work whenever I like. Whether it’s a Saturday night, looking after the troubles that come with a night time economy or during the week when some local events are taking place, for example PACT meetings. As long as I complete 16 hours a month, which is the amount West Midlands Police asks off its Specials, the choice is effectively yours.
What are your favourite parts about your role and the job in general?
My favourite part about the role is when you’ve done a good job as a volunteer Special Constable and you’re thanked by a member of the public or the duty Inspector at the end, it really does make you feel that giving up your spare time is worthwhile. My favourite part about the job, honestly would be the blue light runs that you get to go on when you’re working with the regulars. I know it’s a little childish but I still get that sense of adrenaline every time I go on one, perhaps it wears off working full time as a regular?
Is there anything you don’t like about your job or is there anything you’d change?
Not being paid for it! Haha!
Let’s talk paperwork and files – is it proportionate to the work we do or do you think some of it is unnecessary?
Even as a Special, I think the paperwork side is a little too much. We get to see and deal with some aspects of it but we don’t, for example, sort case files as we work perhaps one or two days a week, we simply not there often enough to follow the paperwork through. I really don’t envy the regulars with what paperwork they have to do. Fair play to them.
Are you happy staying where you are or are there other roles in the police you’re interested in?
When the recruitment opens again for the regulars, whenever that maybe, I would definitely consider applying. However, I really enjoy my current career and working for West Midlands Police as a volunteer is extremely rewarding.
What would you say has been the most memorable thing you’ve done or been involved with since you joined the police?
There is quite a lot memorable moments, one that springs to mind would probably be when myself and my colleague were first on scene to a large fight in progress in Sedgley. From a personal point of view, knowing that I can deal with that and be confident in that situation is extremely comforting but also to have comments made by high ranking regular officers as being a job well done and not realising we were Special Constables till afterwards gave me a real sense of pride. I was also first on scene to an officer who had press their emergency button as they were struggling with a person who didn’t take kindly to being arrested. Just being round the corner and able to help was a really rewarding moment.
The police stereotype is that we all love doughnuts and coffee – is it true?
Not at all, in fact most officers I know are health fanatics, with the exception of the occasional Kebab tradition of a Friday night. Haha, you know who you are!