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Dramatic scenes of police in action - but is all as it seems?

PUBLISHED: 14:30 09 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:30 09 April 2017

Norfolk Special Constables take part in an intensive training event where they get to be assessed on their responses to different events like domestic abuse, traffic violations and public disturbances.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017

Norfolk Special Constables take part in an intensive training event where they get to be assessed on their responses to different events like domestic abuse, traffic violations and public disturbances. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

Archant 2017

They may look like dramatic scenes of police in action.

Norfolk Special Constables take part in an intensive training event where they get to be assessed on their responses to different events like domestic abuse, traffic violations and public disturbances.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017 Norfolk Special Constables take part in an intensive training event where they get to be assessed on their responses to different events like domestic abuse, traffic violations and public disturbances. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

But these pictures show members of Norfolk’s Specials at an annual training weekend, being held for the 20th year,

And while many people spent the weekend heading to beaches, barbecues and beer gardens, 50 specials gave up their time to be put through their paces at Lenwade House Hotel, in mid Norfolk.

They were joined by 50 other volunteers and were trained for duties which could include crowd control at a Norwich versus Ipswich derby, assisting security at royal engagements at Sandringham, traffic control at the annual Tamil pilgrimage to Walsingham and helping to police Norwich’s Prince of Wales Road on a Saturday night.

Specials are volunteer officers who receive no pay, other than expenses, but have an increasingly crucial role in keeping our communities safe.

Norfolk Special Constables take part in an intensive training event where they get to be assessed on their responses to different events like domestic abuse, traffic violations and public disturbances.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017 Norfolk Special Constables take part in an intensive training event where they get to be assessed on their responses to different events like domestic abuse, traffic violations and public disturbances. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

They have powers of arrest and support regular officers at major incidents and events.

Specials carried out 11,242 duties and completed 75,814 hours on duty in Norfolk between April 1, 2016 and March 31 this year.

They save Norfolk Constabulary £2m a year.

But with the regular force undergoing a recruitment drive, and more than 50pc of people joining the specials as a way into a paid career with the police, specials numbers have been declining.

Norfolk Special Constables take part in an intensive training event where they get to be assessed on their responses to different events like domestic abuse, traffic violations and public disturbances.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017 Norfolk Special Constables take part in an intensive training event where they get to be assessed on their responses to different events like domestic abuse, traffic violations and public disturbances. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

There are 243 specials in Norfolk. In 2014 there were 300.

Special chief officer Malcolm Pearson, 59, who lives in East Rudham, will have completed 40 years with Norfolk’s Specials in June and has been made an MBE for services to policing.

He said: “We need people who are looking at being a special, not just as a way into the regular force, but as a longer term voluntary career.” Mr Pearson, who also works as a management consultant, added: “I started because I wanted to be a regular police officer.

“I found my other career was going well and I didn’t want to give that up but enjoyed being a special. I enjoy working with such a great team and giving something back to the community. Being a special has also given me many skills to take into other walks of life.”

Norfolk Special Constables take part in an intensive training event where they get to be assessed on their responses to different events like domestic abuse, traffic violations and public disturbances.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017 Norfolk Special Constables take part in an intensive training event where they get to be assessed on their responses to different events like domestic abuse, traffic violations and public disturbances. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

For more about joining the Specials, visit www.norfolk.police.uk or call 01953 425699 ext 2371 for an informal chat.

The changing role of Specials

Special chief officer Malcolm Pearson, 59, said the role of the special has changed massively in his 40 years of service.

He said: “It was literally going to village fetes when I started out.

“I never thought I would be driving a police car or doing half of the jobs I do now.

“We do many of the jobs that regular officers do.”

Specials need to complete a minimum 16 hours a month but many regularly do more than twice that.

Chief inspector Lou Provart said: “We have massive respect for the specials and the fantastic work they do.

“We are very fortunate for the quality of volunteers we get coming through and without them Norfolk police would be a much less well thought-of police force.

“We are also able to utilise the specialist skill sets that members of the public bring to the role and it gives us a vital link in the partnership between the police service and the public.”

‘Giving something back to a community that has made me feel so welcome’

Special constable David Walker, 27, who lives in Norwich, joined Norfolk’s Specials in February.

Mr Walker works as a customer services representative for Aviva.

He said: “I moved to Norwich from Glasgow three years ago and have been so impressed at how nice a community there is here.

“I‘ve not seen that in other places where I’ve lived and I felt I wanted to do something to give something back to the community which has made me feel so welcome.

“I’m also considering a career with the police and this gives me the opportunity to see what it’s like first before committing to it.

“I’m able to fit everything in around my work quite easily and I’m really enjoying it.”

Mr Walker has been out on emergency 999 call outs with the regular police force, including assisting at an incident where ambulance paramedics were being assaulted.

An exciting job with a variety of challenges

Special Constable Beth Anness, 28, has been with Norfolk’s Specials since June, 2016 and is based at Wymondham.

She also works as a marketing and digital co-ordinator with electronics company Snellings.

Mrs Anness usually volunteers for between 20 and 30 hours a month with the specials and also volunteers during weeks off work.

She said: “I have a real passion for it.

“I studied criminology at university and I’m gaining this experience with the specials before, hopefully, going into a full-time career with the police.”

Mrs Anness supported regular officers at the Norwich versus Ipswich derby match at Carrow Road this season. She worked in a police van transporting prisoners to custody.

She said: “It’s a really exciting job and I enjoy the variety of challenges that come with it. I enjoy engaging with the community and learning new skills.”

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