A Special day on duty at Ampthill Festival

SC Barry HaywardThis October we are celebrating the contribution of our Special Constables. Special Sergeant Barry Hayward tells us what it’s like to play a key role in policing a local festival, proving that although they are volunteers, Specials aren’t ‘hobby bobbies’…

“I’ve been a Special for six years, and get to be involved with a variety of things. One of the things I have most enjoyed this year was being ‘bronze command’ at Ampthill Festival earlier this summer – I have already requested to be involved in the same role again at next year’s event.”

“As bronze command I am responsible for the deployment of our officers at the festival; I have more responsibility but still get to be on the ground, getting involved.

“The festival was on a Sunday, and I started the day by briefing the organiser’s security team so we could arrange for our officers to close the roads. We also discussed where the best location for our van would be, and arranged to park up in the grounds near the arena.

“Being so close to the arena meant that people could come and chat to us and see that we are human. Throughout the day the van was open so people could sit in a police vehicle and try on uniform. In particular the kids enjoyed seeing their parents being handcuffed; payback for all those chores obviously!

“Ampthill Festival is really a fun day for the local community; there are stalls, live music and shows in an arena. The highlight of the day is a carnival which passes through the town centre.

“Our first call of the day came in was before the carnival had even set off. We received a call from security reporting a theft from a stall. We went over to find out what had happened and dealt with it as best we could – unfortunately no one was arrested as they had made off before we arrived.

“Luckily the carnival went well, and we enjoyed meeting people throughout the day.

“Later in the evening, while the stalls were still trading and there were still children running around, we had a report from security who suspected a group were dealing drugs in the arena.

“We attended straight away and carried out a search. We found a claw hammer under the group’s picnic blanket and a male admitted having a cannabis grinder. He was arrested.

“Because of the possibility of the group having further weapons in a crowded area, I requested the assistance of an Armed Response Vehicle to move the group away from the arena. There was no way I was going to take the risk of leaving them in the arena after finding the claw hammer.

“You just don’t know what else can happen.

“The group were handcuffed and immediately escorted out of the arena. All were searched but we found nothing further although none were allowed back in.

“The man we had previously arrested from the group was later searched at a police station, where we found a lock knife and drugs.

“No sooner had we dealt with that incident, than we were told a fight had broken out in the arena between two males. One was arrested and escorted to custody.

“My team worked from 9am – 11pm that day. Each of them dedicated their time for free to make sure the residents of Ampthill could enjoy their day. It’s rewarding when reports come back from the public, and on that day they said they felt safe and glad the police were there to deal with things.

“As Specials we give up our time to make a difference in our communities, and it’s a nice feeling to know that our work is valuable and that the public feel safe when we’re around.”

Bedfordshire Police has over 260 Special Constables. To find out more about joining them, come along to one of our information evenings. For more information, click here.

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