Specials Day 2019: Celebrating Derbyshire's Special Constabulary
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Today we are celebrating the Special Constabulary in Derbyshire!
Specials, as they are known, have been policing Derbyshire since 1831 and provide a fantastic level of service to the county.
The 164 Special Constables in Derbyshire help with everything from policing football matches, providing a high visibility policing presence in local neighbourhoods and high profile incidents such as Whaley Bridge.
To show exactly the work Specials do, and find out why they wanted to become one, we spent a day with a team carrying out warrants.
And you can see what else they got up to on our Twitter feed here.
We also caught up with Derbyshire Constabulary’s highest ranking Special, Special Chief Inspector Arron Kirkham.
Arron leads the 164 Specials in the county, who so far this year have given more than 26,000 hours – but the benefit is far more than just hours given. They are arresting criminals, saving lives and making our communities safer each and every day.
We sat down with Arron to talk to him about his role in Derbyshire Constabulary:
"I became a Special on 16 October, 2007 – a date I remember very well!
Since then I have worked across a number of areas in the county – from the north of Derby, Dronfield, Buxton, Chesterfield and now I am based at the Force Headquarters in Ripley.
I had always wanted to become a member of the Special Constabulary and help give something back to my community, however, I was worried that my dyslexia would be too much of a hindrance and my English skills would not be good enough.
I spoke to a family member, who happened to be a serving officer in Nottinghamshire at the time, and they said that I would receive support and not to be concerned.
By that time I was older and more confident about my abilities – at school it wasn’t a common thing and I always struggled with feeling stupid and struggled – and I applied and thankfully I was successful.
I have been incredibly lucky to have had fantastic opportunities as a Special – in particular being trained as a PSU officer. It is brilliant fun and there can’t be many roles where you get to be petrol bombed every year!
I have also been able to support the CREST team and help with the Upright biker campaign to reduce motorcycle casualties in the county.
I have been lucky enough to be involved in a huge variety of roles and I am very privileged and proud to be the current Special Chief Inspector. Back in 2007 I certainly never expected to be at that rank, albeit at the moment temporarily, and I am humbled to be the voice of the Special Constabulary. I have been able to speak with ACC Paul Gibson and together we have agreed brilliant changes for the Specials such as Body Worn Video and mobile data terminals – I know these have made a real difference out in the force and I am looking forward to areas where I can help improve things further.
If I could say anything to anyone who is thinking of being a Special is don’t think about – just join! It is a hugely fun, challenging role that has a hugely positive effect on your local community. The sense of pride when you put on your uniform is unbelievable and I still get that same feeling from the first day I became a Special to now. Don’t get me wrong, there will be hard times but when you are a Special you become part of that policing family and your friends and colleagues will help support you, along with the force as a whole."
Assistant Chief Constable Paul Gibson is the force’s lead for the Special Constabulary. He has seen first-hand the work the Specials do and had this to say about the role they play in keeping Derbyshire safe.
"The work of the Special Constabulary in Derbyshire is a source of immense pride for both the force and me personally as the chief officer lead for Citizens in Policing.
Our communities would be that much poorer without the service they provide each and every day. And, just like the regular officers whose powers they share, when they head out of the station door they have no idea what they are going to come up against.
That is of course part of the draw of working in the force, however, it does also mean they will find themselves in potentially dangerous situations and witness things a regular member of the public would hope never to have to see.
And, while they do this without a monthly pay cheque, they do so with exactly the same pride, passion and professionalism as regular officers.
No better examples of this dedication can be found in the three nominees for the Special Constable of the Year award – the winner of which will be announced at next week’s Celebrating Achievements ceremony at Pride Park.
Special Sergeants James Hall and Martin Parker have been absolutely crucial in the success of Operation Pitchford, the response to illegal raves in the north of the county. As a result of their hard work the number of raves dropped dramatically and earned well-deserved praise from the local community and their policing colleagues.
Also in the running for the award is Special Constable Nigel Skelton who has clocked up an incredible 20 years as a Special – a fantastic achievement itself. Based down in Swadlincote he has become an indispensable part of the policing of the area and is relied on to be the face of the force at high profile local events such as the Christmas lights switch on.
I wish all three the best of luck on the night and all show the vital roles Specials play in the force.
Despite their name, the Specials don’t see themselves as anything other than another officer on the beat, know I see them as such, and colleagues across the force do as well, however, I think it is only right that we shine the spotlight on them and give these dedicated public servants the recognition they deserve.
Please accept my own personal thanks, the thanks of the wider Constabulary and the thanks of the communities you protect and serve."