‘It is so rewarding to help at Christmas’
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While this Christmas time will be very different for households across Staffordshire residents will still be looking forward to some well-deserved time off work – with few considering going to work for free.
But that is exactly what the dedicated volunteers with Staffordshire Police’s Special Constabulary are doing with those giving up time at home over the festive season revealing the pleasure they get from helping keep the public safe during the Christmas period.
A number of Special Constables have signed up to turn out on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, along with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
And this year, the 154 Specials across the county have contributed 67,910 duty hours with that number set to rise over Christmas.
Among those working during the festive period is Special Constable Kristopher Knight, who has just completed a busy few months as a teacher. Despite that workload Kristopher, who is based with Stoke-on-Trent South Neighbourhood Policing Team, will be giving up his holiday to hit the beat. He said: “I am in a lucky position as a teacher that I get more holidays over the Christmas holiday than other Specials.
“Although it has been a very stressful time at work, I knew when I signed up that I wanted to do shifts over the Christmas break. My regular colleagues have to work all year round, so to be part of a team that can ease the burden during this time, where many families get to spend it together, is very rewarding.
“The public relies on the support from the police over this festive time, which can be very difficult for some. To be able to help those in need during this time is easily justifiable when it comes to my own free time.”
Kristopher, who joined up in January, admits his wife would rather he was at home – but appreciates his commitment to the Special Constabulary. He added: “I know my wife would prefer to have me over the entire Christmas period but she also knows that I love what I do with the Special Constabulary.
“She has always been incredibly supportive with late shifts and long days and special holidays is no exception. I really do feel like the Special Constabulary makes a difference in policing and we really are one team.”
Specials will take on all the tasks and challenges as regular officers with some trained to help carry out checks during the increased amount of drink and drug driving operations
Dale King is a special inspector based on the opposite side of the Potteries with Stoke-on-Trent North Neighbourhood Policing Team. Dale, who spent 15 years in the Royal Navy, has been with the Special Constabulary since 2011 and can usually be found in uniform on a Friday night. He said: “It goes without saying the festive period is always the busiest time of the year and I take great satisfaction knowing I am doing my bit to assist the regular force to keep the public safe and reassured.”
Dale is among those who helps tackle road crime. He said: “During the festive period we will help with road crime operations whether that is looking for defective vehicles or carrying out drink and drug drive operations.
“I am authorised to take evidential samples of breath and blood, with blood done via a medical professional. This is something my team and I get involved in on a regular occasion.
“Having worked over the festive period for many years I get my motivation from knowing the work we do does make a difference and does save lives - what more motivation would I need?”
Dale admits people often ask him why he gives up his time – especially at Christmas. He added: “Why do I do this for free instead of spending time with my family some might ask? The answer is, I have a very supportive family who are proud of what I do and understand my passion for the role.”
Chief Officer of the Specials Tony Athersmith has thanked the Specials for their contribution over 2020. He said: “The number of hours contributed by the Specials has been an incredible feat. Obviously, this year has been very unique and due to the furlough scheme, some Specials have been able to dedicate much more time to the force. Regardless of their contribution it is gladly received by the communities they help to protect and by the force. And may I say, on a personal level, thank you for all that you continue to do.”