The Special Constabulary is the United Kingdom’s part-time police force. It is made up of volunteer members of the public who when on duty wear a uniform and have full police powers.
In the UK there are over 20,000 Specials Police Officers serving within police forces across the UK. They work in all aspects of policing.
“Special Constables are trained volunteers who have the same powers as regular police officers”
Ross Baldwin and James Leathley both work as Special Officers and have recently been working on anti-social behaviour issues in Ripon.
In their other jobs, Ross works works as a police staff member and James within a family-run building company.
Special Officers commit to working a minimum of 4-hours per week.
To become a Special Officer there is a period of training, both during the week and at weekends. The initial training also has written and practical assesment. If the applicant is successful they then are sworn in.
The second stage of trainign is a period of accompanied patrol where the prospective Special documents incidents that they have been attended – the stage takes a maxium of 12-months and is about prooving competance. It can be much quicker than 12-months if more time is volunteered.
Ripon has experienced some issues with anti-social behaviour with young people on the streets and in the local parks.
In response, Ripon police have launched a police operation with part of the operation being additional street patrols.
James Leathley is currently building his competances in the second stage of training being supported by Ross Badlwin.
Harrogate-News joined them on an evening patrol in Ripon.
The patrol took to the streets in a police van and headed to known problem areas. Problems are sometimes starting following groups of youths gathering.
Passing Millfield Play area the officers noticed 4 young people in the play area, by this time it was 8:30pm and was in total darkness. The van was parked up and the officers walked over to talk to the youths. They were all in the 12 to 14 age range and were 3 lads and 1 girl.
The officers took names and contacted the control room. The youths were known faces to officers and the control room confirmed by radio link that one had an order on him preventing him from being in some areas of Ripon. The police reminded him of the order and asked him what time he was going home.
The officers are polite and respectfull, but at the same time reminding them that they are patrolling the area.
The youths themselves were apparently not phased by the arrival of the police and local media – it looked liked it was what they had come to expect. Speaking to the officers afterwards, they believe that part of the issue is that some parents are just not interested in where their children are and what they are doing.
The patrol continued through the evening with repeated visits to known problem areas. They take only a short break during the evening as they want to be out on patrol rather than back at the station.
Special Police Officers are highly respected by other officers. They are integrated with the main force and provide valuable additional resource.
Further details at www.nypspecials.co
On 13 January 2014 Chief Constable Dave Jones and Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, Julia Mulligan launched a force-wide campaign to bolster the ranks of Special Constables
Main photograph: Special Constable James Leathley