Specials clock up thousands of hours during unforgettable year
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More than 73,400 hours on shift, almost 300 arrests made and hundreds of statements obtained – those are just some of the statistics revealing what the force’s volunteer police officers achieved in just one year.
And the contribution from Staffordshire Police’s Special Constabulary has been labelled ‘invaluable’ and ‘outstanding’ as their efforts during the challenging year of 2020 have been laid bare.
Over those 12 months the 204 Specials clocked up 73,455 hours on duty – with many balancing their paid employment and family commitments with volunteering for the force to help the communities they serve.
Their time on shift resulted in the volunteer officers making 297 arrests and taking 646 statements in response to the wide range of incidents they attended. Dozens of vulnerable people were also supported with the Specials completing 269 public protection notices – which are designed to safeguard individuals and highlight their case to partner agencies.
Pictured: Some of Staffordshire's Specials
During a busy year they attended 384 road traffic collisions and as part of their duties to support safety on the highways, the Specials seized 184 vehicles.
Away from the roads and they carried out 350 stop searches while also completing 493 prisoner transports.
Staffordshire Police’s Chief Constable, Gareth Morgan, has thanked the Specials for their contributions over 2020. He said: “In 2020, we have all experienced the exceptional challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought. Staffordshire Police have not been exempt from those challenges.
“Alongside regular officers, staff and other volunteers, the Special Constabulary have contributed over 73,000 voluntary hours to policing in support of the public. On behalf of the whole of Staffordshire Police and the communities that we serve, I wish to express my sincere thanks to all members of the Special Constabulary for this outstanding commitment and contribution during 2020.
“We all look forward to working alongside the Special Constabulary in 2021 when their contribution will doubtless be exceptional again.”
Pictured: Special Inspector Josh Wright with some of the new equipment for the volunteers
The Specials also received a boost last year with confirmation that more of the volunteer officers would be receiving body worn video and mobile data devices. Funding from the Staffordshire Commissioner’s Office – generated by the police precept, which forms part of council tax bills in the county – has resulted in 250 cameras and data devices being secured.
Deputy Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire and Rescue and Crime Sue Arnold said: “The contribution made by the Special Constabulary to the police and their communities is always invaluable, and never more so than in these incredibly challenging, uncertain times.
“They truly go above and beyond to support their colleagues in protecting vulnerable people and keeping us all safe – at a time when the health and wellbeing of their own friends and families will naturally be uppermost in their minds.
“Every day, their commitment and passion shines through, and I thank them for their dedication in giving up their own time to provide an important link between the police and our local communities.
“I’ve been really impressed with the senior leadership team, led by Tony and the Special Chief Inspectors, who have done such a super job in directing and valuing the Specials during these difficult times.”
The ranks were bolstered in December where a total of 20 new volunteers joined the Special Constabulary, which welcomes five intakes of 10 recruits per year.
Chief Officer of Staffordshire’s Special Constabulary, Tony Athersmith, has paid tribute to the volunteer officers. He said: “The year which has passed was like no other we have experienced but I am delighted to see the way our Specials adapted and continued to give so much of their time to support the communities they proudly serve.
Pictured: Chief Officer of Staffordshire’s Special Constabulary, Tony Athersmith
“The statistics we are able to share clearly highlight the contribution our volunteers have made and the ongoing support they provide to the force’s full-time frontline officers. Many do this while working full-time and use their spare time to complete their duties. I am extremely proud of our officers and the fantastic work they do on a daily basis.”
Now find out why two of the Specials – based in North and South Staffordshire – give their free time to the constabulary:
Burglar encounter inspired Sam to become a crime-fighter
Being stared down by a determined burglar brandishing a tyre lever didn’t deter Sam Rollinson from standing his ground and trying to apprehend the offender.
It wasn’t the circumstances Sam envisaged while walking out from his flat one evening but the sound of a door being forced open and the crash of breaking glass captured his attention.
Pictured: Special Chief Inspector Sam Rollinson
Eleven years on and the IT support worker is now a Special Chief Inspector with responsibility for volunteer officers in the south of the county.
“I was leaving my flat when I could hear the sound of someone kicking at a door and then it was the sound of glass breaking,” recalled the 43-year-old. “I lived close to a tyre supplier and I realised they had been broken in to. I went over and saw someone standing behind frosted glass with what looked like the till.
“He saw I was holding a torch and I saw he had a tyre lever but I wasn’t willing to move and it was a stand-off.”
Eventually the offender smashed his way through the glass and was met with Sam who ended up trying to hold him to the ground. Sam added: “I had called the police and I just didn’t want him to get away. Sadly he did as that was before I had joined the Specials and didn’t have the knowledge of safely restraining him.
When the police arrived officers acknowledged how Sam had put himself at risk but paid tribute to his efforts. He said: “They asked me why I did it, and I just said it was because what the guy was doing was wrong and I wanted to stop him. They told me about the Specials and so I went away and found out more.”
Sam was successful and found himself posted in Cannock before working his way up to be a Special Chief Inspector – all while working full-time in IT. He said: “It has changed over the years from Specials just going out on a carrier and helping tackle anti-social behaviour to being given a lot more responsibility as we have shown how we can step up.
“I remember working on an operation around drug dealing in Cannock and I stopped the dealer at a nightclub in the town and found Class A drugs on him. He was later sentenced to a term in prison.
“My passion is probably road policing as I like to see the case through from start to end and that area gives me the chance to do that.”
For Sam he remains just as motivated now as he did when he first signed up. He added: “I enjoy being challenged and it’s something which keeps me on my toes. I enjoy doing something that benefits the community.”
‘I’ve always wanted to be in the police’ - dedicated Callum clocks up 700 hours
When Callum Ryder was a youngster he’d watch television shows following police officers as they tracked down criminals and helped victims. It was then he realised there was just one career path he wanted to follow.
Pictured: Special Constable Callum Ryder
And his enthusiasm for policing has seen the 21-year-old complete 700 hours during 2020 - his first with the constabulary - as a special constable based with Stoke-on-Trent North Neighbourhood Policing Team.
Callum was studying policing and criminal investigations at Staffordshire University when he applied to become a special. He said: “Ever since I was a child I’d watch television shows featuring the police and I knew that I wanted to join.”
But it was the bravery shown by his mum which prompted Callum to turn his dream into a reality. He said: “My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and I wanted to do something to make her proud and really make something of my life. She beat it and is fine now but what she went through did inspire me.”
On graduating from university Callum took up a job at a cinema which later saw him furloughed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He said: “I had additional time and just offered to do as many shifts as I could as a Special working with the NPT. I didn’t think I would do so many hours but I have got so much from it.
“I just enjoy helping people and contributing something to the community. I have helped people when they have been at a real low point and that gives me a sense of really doing something good.”