AFTER the announcement that Sussex Police will be recruiting 120 new special constables, two Shoreham volunteer police officers explain what the role involves and what new recruits should expect.
Christopher Dowling, 31, a special constable for 11 years, and Andrew Grinstead, 36, a volunteer officer for 4½ years, both patrol in the Shoreham area spending between eight and 16 hours a week on the beat.
Chris said: “I enjoy being able to help people and to get out and about and interact with the public and I find it very rewarding when I’m able to do something that makes a difference in the community. Volunteers bring in their own unique set of skills and experiences from outside the police family and we also provide valuable extra resources.”
As with most special constables, Chris, who works at Tesco in Holmbush, and Andrew, a Sussex Police IT manager, have to balance day jobs with policing duties.
Explaining an average shift, Chris said: “When I arrive at the police station I kit up and then either self brief via computer or attend the team briefing depending on what shift I’m doing.
“I then go out on patrol and deal with anything that I might come across, which could be youths acting anti-socially, a road traffic collision or a fight, as well as having to respond to such incidents via the radio or other emergencies which have been called in to us.”
Andrew’s advice to those considering signing up is: “Firstly, speak to other special constables. We will be able to give you a real idea of what it is like to be a volunteer police officer. While it is very rewarding it can also be very demanding and a big commitment.”
Chris said special constables should be good listeners, patient and outgoing.