14 December 2012

Focus on... Specials Superintendent Sidney Seddon

Specials Superintendent Sidney Seddon

Based in West division  |  Joined Kent Police in 1992

I will typically work 60 hours per month as a Specials Superintendent. Because of my rank, my role is different to other Specials. Typically I attend meetings at HQ to discuss strategic work and update the Specials chief officer team on local issues. I am in regular contact with my chief officer co-ordinator to organise officer duties, discuss staffing issues and local policing priorities.

I also get out on patrol at least once a month, either with the Roads Policing Unit, Marine Unit or neighbourhood officers. This month I’ll be going out with the Roads Policing Unit as well as attending senior manager meetings and training sessions.

Previously I have been involved in setting up a Special Constables section in the Marine Unit and this is now being mirrored in other specialist units. I have also been involved in bringing the promotion process for Specials up to date.

During the summer, I worked with my co-ordinator to set up multi-agency traffic operations with officers in the west of the county.

I was a zoo keeper for 10 years before I decided I wanted to join the police service. However, after failing the selection, I became a nurse for several years before moving into my current role as a prison officer.

Being a Special is a very valuable part of my life. For me, the best thing about being part of the Special Constabulary is the variety and diversity of work on offer. When I first joined, training was very basic and you learned largely while out and about.

Thinking of volunteering?
If you’re thinking of joining, you need to have a very understanding family. When you get the bug for police work, rarely does it go and before you know it, you’re working every spare hour you can. You have to be able to balance your time. You need to be honest, reliable, flexible and patient, and very importantly be able to communicate. You can find out more about how to join Kent Police as a Special Constable on our website at www.kent.police.uk/specials

Specials recognised at east Kent Commander Awards

Chief Superintendent Alan Horton

Divisional Commander, East Kent

On Wednesday this week, I presented awards to two special constables and a special sergeant for their exceptional work, as part of the East Kent Divisional Commander awards.

I gave Special Constable Ben Rose a Certificate of Merit for his professionalism and dedication following an incident in October last year.

On Wednesday 19 October 2011, Ben was off duty and driving to his day job when he became aware of police officers in the area looking for someone. While at Thanet Services Ben became suspicious of a man who had just got out of a vehicle. He approached the man and believed he was the person police officers were looking for. The driver appeared to be under the influence of alcohol when he attempted to get back in his car so SC Rose detained him until police officers arrived. The man was arrested for excess breath alcohol and driving while disqualified. He was given a 101-day custodial sentence.

I also awarded a Certificate of Merit to Special Constable Ollie Woodrow and Special Sergeant Rob Linkins.

On Wednesday 28 March 2012, Ollie and Rob were on foot patrol in Canterbury when a member of the public approached them with suspicions about a man collecting cash for the Help For Heroes charity.

Ollie and Rob spoke with the man and became suspicious he was fraudulently collecting money. After carrying out enquiries with the charity, the officers were told he was not collecting on behalf of the charity so they arrested him. The man was later charged with fraud by false representation.

The officers were all awarded for their professionalism, putting public safety before their own.

Queen's Diamond Jubilee medals
Also at the ceremony, I presented Special Constables Ian Dearberg, Fraser Macallum and Special Sergeants Dave Roberts and Alex Grace with their Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medals.

'Highly-motivated and dedicated team'
It is an enormous privilege to lead such a highly motivated and dedicated team in the delivery of policing to the communities in east Kent. Day in and day out I am struck by how committed to their role my team and the teams we work with are, whether they are members of the Special Constabulary, police staff or warranted officers.

These awards recognise the outstanding work of just a few of the many, whether that work is a professional and tenacious investigation, outstanding leadership, stunning performance or the very highest recognition for selflessly saving a life. Taken together they show that everyone at Kent Police is totally committed to policing and delivering a quality service.

You can read more about the work of our Specials on our website at www.kent.police.uk/focus

13 December 2012

Focus on... Special Constable Rachael Jarman

Rachael Jarman

26 |  Special Constable based in Maidstone  
Started in June 2011

I was at the same drugs op as SC Ross Smith a few weeks ago in Maidstone. Eight Special Constables went out with a drugs liaison officer and a police drugs dog and we searched the queues of people waiting to get into the pubs and clubs.  After we’d completed some searches and one person had been arrested, I was walking back towards the high street when the drugs dog made a beeline for a man walking past. I stopped the man and told him I was going to search him as the dog had positively identified him as being of interest. He turned out his pockets and handed over a packet of white powder, just like that! So I arrested the man and called for a van to take him back to the police station and process him.

It was my first drugs arrest. Working in the town centre, we usually deal with drunks and minor disorder so taking part in a specific operation like that was really interesting and it was a really good day.

For me, the best thing about being a Special is meeting loads of different people. In this role, we obviously deal with all sorts of people, offenders, victims and lost people.

I like to help people too. Just recently, officers brought in a girl for drink driving and, as I was the only female nearby, they called me down to search her. After putting her back into her cell, she burst into tears. You have to be firm but also empathetic in this role – she’d obviously committed a crime but was so distraught, I don’t think we’ll be seeing her again.

Last night I was crewed with my sergeant and our first job was to locate a man for breach of bail. After attending two locations including the man’s home address, we ascertained his story checked out so there was no need to arrest him.

We then attended another report of three people causing a nuisance to an elderly man in Coxheath. After speaking with the witness, we located three potential suspects and took their details to be forwarded to the local PCSO to make follow up enquiries.

We then carried out high visibility patrols in the rural area of Maidstone, checking vulnerable cash machine sites and an industrial estate that had recently been the target of a theft. We also checked out Maidstone town centre and stopped two drivers for motoring offences. I gave them words of advice as, in the circumstances, it was more appropriate to educate rather than prosecute.

To find out more about the work of Specials in Maidstone, read my colleague Ross Smith's blog.

Online chat – watch the replay

You can watch a replay of last night’s online chat with Specials Co-ordinator T/Insp Guy Thompson.

Guy answered questions on the recruitment process and training requirements.

Focus on... Special Constable Ross Smith

Ross Smith

39  |  Special Constable in Maidstone  |  IT manager

A 'typical' day
After finishing work at my day job I head to Maidstone Police Station, put my uniform on and meet up with my colleagues.

If I’ve been allocated to a specific operation, I’ll attend the briefing. Otherwise I’ll meet with the neighbourhood sergeant to get my taskings for the evening. This could be town centre patrol or being sent to an area for a particular operation, investigation or intelligence gathering.

After being allocated my tasking, I’ll pair up with another officer and head out on patrol, on foot or in the car and see what unfolds!

Recent arrest
On Saturday night last week, I was part of an operation to crack down on drugs in the town centre. I went out with a group of other Specials and carried out random swabbing at local pubs/clubs. We took the swabs back to the station for analysis and from this, we could tell what types of drugs may be being used and where.

With the swab analysis complete, I met up with a passive drugs dog and his handler in the high street and patrolled with them. It didn’t take long before the dog positively identified potential suspects so we searched a number of people and arrested one man for possession of illegal drugs. We took him back to the station, booked him into custody and completed the paperwork. That arrest wasn’t the only one of the night so it turned out to be a very successful operation.

After a short break, we headed back out to police the busy night time town centre.

Most memorable ‘job’
One of my most memorable jobs was a drugs raid one evening in a pub. I attended the briefing and was told by the sergeant I would be actively involved in the op which was exciting and nerve-racking all at the same time! Everyone was quiet in the van on the way to the pub and tension was high as everyone prepared themselves for the raid. Suddenly it was go, go, go and we all ran into the party where it was dark and the music was loud. I headed to my allocated point by the toilets and searched them. When I pushed open a cubicle door I saw two men involved in what appeared to be a drug deal.

My training kicked in and I got them both out of the cubicle but not before I saw one of them throw a bag behind the toilet.

I didn’t let them know that I had seen this and began explaining calmly that they had nothing to worry about and that we were doing a licencing check on the pub. I stalled them while covertly calling for assistance - two of them, one of me, that’s what was on my mind! Two colleagues joined me and I told them what I had seen so we arrested and handcuffed the two men.

Back in the van on the way to custody with the two men, I felt a huge sense of relief and pride. By keeping calm, I had got the two arrests for the night, without any struggle or anyone getting hurt. When I got home, I couldn’t sleep - I was so excited by what had just happened!

Thinking of joining?
If you’re thinking about becoming a Special, I’d definitely say go for it! I went to a recruitment open day and found out a little more about the role and what would be expected of me. Then spoke to my wife about what I would be required to commit and after deciding together it wouldn’t impact on my family life in a negative way, I applied. As soon as I started the training I knew I was going to enjoy the role. I have never looked back since!

The best thing about being a Special is when you see you have made a difference – it’s very rewarding. Also the people around you become like a second family - everyone looks out for each other and you are part of the team. Even though, as a Special, you are not there as much as the regulars, you are never excluded.

Being a Special constable has given me a lot back that I could never have got from another ‘normal’ job. The life skills you get from the training and being out interacting with people is immense. You build confidence in yourself and your abilities to think clearly in stressful situations. I still think it’s odd that now I run towards incidents that I used to step back from! The training is tough, but the rewards make it all worthwhile.

To find out more about the Specials in Maidstone, check out my colleague Special Constable Rachael Jarman's blog.

12 December 2012

Focus on... Special Constable Mark Hadley

Mark Hadley
Special Constable in North Kent
Communications Officer, Kent Police Force Control Room

I’m based at north Kent and a typical day as a Special for me starts when I attend the station and am briefed on what is going on in the area that day. I’ll then take a vehicle and proactively patrol in key areas where there may have been problems overnight or where I know issues such as anti-social behaviour can occur. I’ll keep an ear out for any incoming calls and attend where needed.

One of things you have to do to get your ‘independent operational status’ as a Special is carry out an arrest, which I was nervous about and determined to get right. After some advice from my tutor I successfully carried out the arrest.

My most memorable 'job' began while I was dealing with a theft of a purse in Gillingham. While giving an elderly lady advice about cancelling her cards, a call came in about a burglary in process.

I was only around the corner so my colleague and I made our way to the address. At the scene, a neighbour told us the burglars had entered the property through the back door so we called more officers to attend to cover all exits. While other officers found one man at the rear of the property, my colleague let me in the front and, with our batons in hand, we searched the rest of the property for the reported second man. Our initial search showed no result so I positioned myself at the front door to make sure no one came in or out with authorisation. While other colleagues dealt with the arrest at the back of the property, I saw a window of what must have been a cellar open and a man began to climb out. The training kicked in and I ordered the man to come through the window slowly and turn away so I could cuff him and arrest him for burglary. More experienced officers said what a good result it was, and how rare it is to catch a burglar still in the house. The man was later charged and sentenced, so a good result!

The best thing about being a Special is meeting a variety of people from all walks of life. As a Special you go to so many types of jobs and you see so many things. These are all learning curves and you always have to be on your toes. You obviously get the information from the initial call but when you arrive it could actually be something completely different. Sometimes you have to reassess the situation and think of ‘Plan B’. The adrenaline rush you feel when you are on the way to your calls never goes! I have attended many incidents in the time I have served and the adrenaline is still the same as the first job I attended.

To be a Special, communication skills are a must! If you cannot talk to people easily, it really isn’t the job for you. You need to also be able to stay open minded as you hear many sides of stories and need to base your judgement on all of them.  You must be able to empathise when people come to you with their concerns and you need to respect people’s views whether you agree or not - just listening to that person may make all the difference.

Focus on... Vic Morse, training to become a Special Constable

Vic Morse
Special Constable in training at Kent Police Training School

I’m currently training at Kent Police to become a Special Constable. I started at the end of September and hope to complete it by March 2013.

Each month I typically attend a full weekend training (Saturday and Sunday) and two evening training sessions (7 to 10pm).

At last night’s training, we had a talk from an officer about drugs awareness. It was really informative and an eye opener. He made me think differently about how to deal with people involved in drugs.

We’ve also been learning the definitions of each crime type, breaking down what each word means, and what someone can be arrested for.

A crime scene investigator came to one of our recent training sessions to explain what goes into gathering and preserving evidence. She gave us practical advice on what our role would be at a scene – what to look for and how to record information.

Previously we’ve taken part in role plays including learning how to arrest someone – what to do and what not to do. Arresting someone always sounds simple but there is a lot to remember!

I’ve just passed my first exam which is a relief and it was great because the whole class passed. We have ongoing assessments too and there are course notes which we have to read before we attend every session. The tutor questions us on what we’ve read and then goes into more depth, which is sometimes supported by e learning after the class.

As well as all the classroom-based learning and role plays, there’s the practical side of our training. We’ve had a medical and will need to pass the fitness test before we join. From March 2013, we’ll be based at a local station and attending calls with our regular officer colleagues to get ‘on-the-ground’ experience.

Sometimes we get to speak with previous and up coming intakes and it’s a great chance to share knowledge and discuss what we’ve learnt. I spoke recently to someone from the intake ahead of us who said they’ve been learning how to handcuff someone securely.

Why I wanted to become a Special

Previously I was in the army and am now a single mum with two children. I found it hard to get a job to fit around my child care arrangements but was keen to do my bit and make a difference. So I looked into volunteering and found out about the work of the Specials. Now I feel like I’m playing my part and fit into the team. There’s a real camaraderie to working as a Special and I’ve made some really good friends, of all ages, through my training. It’s so nice to mix with like-minded people with similar beliefs and to be part of the team.

Interested in becoming a Special?

If you want to know more about the work of the Special Constabulary and what's involved in becoming a Special, chat online to co-ordinator T/Insp Guy Thompson tonight from 6pm. Take part.

11 December 2012

Focus on... Businesses and the Specials

Guy Thompson
T/Inspector and Specials Co-ordinator. 
Joined Kent Police in 1993.

Have you considered how having volunteer officers in your organisation can benefit your business?

Our Special Constables are volunteer officers who help fight crime and increase public safety in Kent.

Benefits to you and your employees
Having staff members who are Specials can help your business become involved with your local community.

It can also help:
  • increase your employees’ skills set - Specials learn skills during their training and while out on the job which can be transferred to the workplace, such as communication, conflict management and leadership.
  • demonstrate your commitment to making a difference in the local community
Hear more from Guy.

Ways your business can get involved in ESP
You can:
  • support and promote the recruitment of Specials in the workplace (displaying posters and/or distributing leaflets)
  • release staff for mandatory training and at times of significant emergencies. You could also consider offering use of facilities too.
  • allow staff 50 per cent of their basic training and a minimum of four hours a month paid leave to perform operational duties. You can publish policy which demonstrates you support ESP.
  • make a commitment to provide Specials a minimum of eight hours a month paid leave to perform duties and 100% time off for basic training and ongoing development needs.

ESP at Kent Police 
At Kent Police, we have an Employer Supported Policing Scheme for staff who wish to become Specials. We provide eight hours of paid leave per month, with a minimum of eight hours to be committed by the individual in his or her own time.

Employer Supported Policing provides employees with access to the full training and skills set needed to become a Special Constable, all of which have real benefits for employers.

Find out more
For more information or to find out how your business can get involved in the scheme, visit www.kent.police.uk/specials

10 December 2012

Focus on... Specials in the marine unit

Adam Houghton, 23

Specials Sergeant in the Marine Unit. 
Joined Kent Police in 2008.

A typical shift starts with a briefing where I’ll give the taskings for the day. I’ll pair up and collect a vehicle to go out on patrol around the marinas in Kent. While on patrol we’ll speak to boat owners, offering crime prevention advice and picking up intelligence on any issues. We can be called to assist in any water-related issues such as anti-social behaviour, recovering human remains and rescues.

If I’m working the shift on the water, I’ll be briefed by the Skipper and get ‘kitted up’ which includes dry suits, load vests, life jackets, thermals and safety equipment such as flares, quick cuffs and life saving vests.  We will be given another briefing on the water in relation to any specific operations, the weather conditions, tide times and any obstructions, before patrolling the waterways. You can see some of our boats on our Flickr site.

During the Olympics I worked as part the team on 24-hour patrol in the Medway Estuary and lower reaches of the Medway. We stopped boats and carried out security checks to make sure everyone was safe and had the right paperwork.

This weekend I was on a course to learn how to use the marine radio and also took part in the yearly officer safety training refresher. Previously I’ve got my level two powerboat qualification. After passing the four-day course, I can now skipper boats in daylight and calm-to-moderate conditions.

Specials in the Marine Unit
Having Specials in the Marine Unit is very unusual and up until recently, we were the first team in a police force anywhere in the country to use Specials in this way. And we are the first force to give boat handling courses to the Specials, allowing my colleagues and I to crew and drive the rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs).

Inspector Steve Seabrook, Marine Unit Manager, said: ‘The Marine Special Constable team is a vital part of the Marine Unit. Co-located at Sheerness Docks, they are a highly dedicated and well-trained team of volunteers who tackle a broad range of marine policing problems, independently and in support of their ‘regular’ colleagues.’

Becoming a Special
I wanted to become a Special because I wanted to do something different. The role is good life experience and something I really enjoy. It’s so different from normal working life and I’ve gained some great qualifications. You have to have patience, be able to commit to the time, be up for duties in your spare time (including weekends and nights). You also have to be able to absorb lots of information and make decisions quickly.

You can find out more about becoming a Special constable on the Kent Police website at www.kent.police.uk/specials