Specials offer from police

Published on 28 September 2016

Businesses in Bedford are set to encourage their staff to become Special Constables in paid time, thanks to an initiative spearheaded by Bedfordshire PCC Kathryn Holloway in partnership with the Bedford Business Improvement District (BID).

Bedford BID, which represents 500 businesses, will now encourage local businesses to release their staff during working hours to train as Special Constables who will police the town and keep the community safe. In the PCC’s Police and Crime Plan, she committed to working with local businesses, especially to recruit so-called Retail Specials, in the very heart of Bedfordshire’s towns.

“Ever since the introduction of the 5p payment for plastic carrier bags, it should come as no surprise that stock losses to retailers have soared,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“Shop owners obviously have a brand new reason to work with Bedfordshire police to up skill their workforce with all the police powers of a fully warranted officer. These Specials would obviously also increase the safety of everyone using the town centre in Bedford.

“The businesses, who release their workers to train with the force, also pick up multiple benefits. Specials receive full training in first aid and conflict resolution as examples which can only help any public facing company, especially when customers are unhappy or behaving improperly. They also get the advantage of individuals developing a problem solving, disciplined, and team-orientated way of working to maximum effect. 

“Some of our largest companies have corporate social responsibility policies which require them to release staff to put something back into the communities where they operate. I cannot think of a more appropriate and mutually useful way to do this than for them to let staff take part in Specials training.”

Some of the largest names in retail in Bedford indicated an interest in the scheme at an exploratory meeting, which led to a more detailed breakfast conference on Wednesday 28 September. Delegates were able to meet the PCC and hear details of Specials’ volunteering opportunities from Special Constabulary Chief Officer Wayne Humberstone.

“We welcome the Commissioner’s initiatives to improve town centre policing and we look forward to hearing from businesses who want to explore the offer of Special Constables,” said Christina Rowe, Director of Bedford BID.

Bedfordshire Police currently has over 250 Specials who volunteer a minimum of 16 hours per month. The Special Constables training programme consists of training in criminal law, legal powers, traffic offences, public communication and radio use, practical policing skills, IT systems, self-defence and first-aid.

Prior to undertaking any police patrol duties, potential Special offers undergo an eight-week part time training course, which consists of classroom and computer based learning. Trainees also attend a regional training centre for four consecutive weekend sessions in personal safety and First Aid.

The new initiative, which will see a boost to the number of officers policing in Bedford, is on top of the additional regular officers the Commissioner has promised the town. In a recent public meeting in Bedford, the PCC announced two new policing bases for officers including sharing the Bedfordshire Fire premises in Barkers Lane, and a new Enquiry Office on the High Street. Bedford will also benefit from two Inspectors (one urban and one rural), one Sergeant, 11 Police Constables and seven PCSOs as part of its new more visible community policing hub. 

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