Special Constables On The Increase In Hounslow
West Middlesex's Mental Health Unit Helps Out
Hounslow Police Sergeants Bev Green and Bruce Wilson have just completed a successful week of recruitment for Volunteer Police Officers (Special Constables). In the run up to the 2012 London Games each Metropolitan Police Borough has been given a target to increase the numbers of Special Constables, Hounslow’s target is 200 - up from the current level of 38.
Special Constables undergo similar training to regular officers and have the same powers, they wear the same uniform and are expected to do the same job, the difference being that they are unpaid and work in their free time. Special Constables get reimbursed for travelling from home to work and they receive an allowance for subsistence when they work a maximum number of hours in one shift. They also receive free transport on Tfl services - Buses, London Underground, Docklands Light Railway Services and those Overground rail routes operated by Tfl. The expectation of them is once trained they will work a minimum of 300 hours a year which equates to 25 hours a month, many of those in post currently exceed this such is their enjoyment and satisfaction of doing the job.
To maximise the potential of Special Constables the Metropolitan Police have introduced a scheme with some employers whereby the employer allows the employee paid time off to be trained and then 2 days a month off to patrol as an officer near the location of their work. This is known as Employment Supported Policing (ESP), the scheme is extending as more companies realise the benefits they can achieve, not only by better local crime prevention but in the skills and behaviours their staff achieve and bring into the work place.
On Wednesday the Sergeants attended West Middlesex Hospital’s Lakeside Unit, part of Ealing Mental Health NHS Trust, which has signed up to ESP; the officers met staff and explained how the scheme works. Two MSC officers already in the scheme at Ealing assisted and they answered questions and gave examples of policing they have done.
Thursday evening Sergeant Wilson attended the Volunteer Police Cadets Evening at Sunbury; he spoke to senior cadets about a career as a police officer. Many of them have considered this but with recruitment as a regular officer slowing down there was interest in becoming a Special Constable to learn the skills with an opportunity to transfer as a regular later.
Last weekend was designated National Special Constabulary weekend; there were extra Specials on duty throughout the country. On Saturday and Sunday both Sergeants assisted by colleagues from MSC and cooperating with Hounslow Councils Community Safety Unit had a recruitment stand in The Treaty Centre. Over the course of the two days more than 200 people spoke to the team with 84 people on Saturday and 42 people on Sunday expressing written interest in becoming Volunteer Police Officers. There were also enquiries about the volunteer police cadets and ordinary volunteering at the Police Station which were passed on.
Sergeant Wilson said, “I have been astounded by the response, I have spoken to people who have no connection with Hounslow they have travelled a great distance to find out more and declare their interest in applying and helping to police Hounslow Borough. In one instance I had Mum, Dad and children all wanting to be police volunteers.”
February 12, 2010