You may recognise our Special Constable Susanne Majer from
one of the 24 Hours in Police Custody episodes. Susanne wrote a blog to share her experience as a Special Constable and a member of the Bedfordshire Police Force Contact Centre staff.
Every day you put that uniform on and start a shift, you are making a difference in the community, you may end up helping someone in a difficult situation or even save a life.
It is a job like no other – even if we only do it in our spare time!
My mother was a serving police officer in Slovakia between 1992 and 2005. She studied law at university level and became a police officer when I was three years old. As the roles in the police in Slovakia are slightly different, she mainly worked as an investigation officer / detective. While I was a child I never held ambitions of joining the police force. However after I had my first experience with a police officer in the UK at the age of 19, I was amazed at how friendly and approachable he was.
I was studying Psychology and Criminal Behaviour at university at the time and it felt like a turning point – I realised that policing may just be the career for me.
I applied in March 2015 to become a special constable. My initial two week training course was one of the most challenging and exciting times of my life. When I swore the oath and received my warrant card I felt accomplished and proud to be able to serve the Queen in the office of constable. A few months later I applied for the role of call handler in our Force Contact Centre and began training in November 2015 and since then I have been a member of staff there which has given me a good insight into policing from both perspectives.
My responsibilities as a special constable are similar to those of my regular colleagues, we hold the same powers and we swear the same oath. Special constables attend incidents, prepare crime reports, make arrests, look for missing people, submit intelligence or attend community events alongside regular officers. No two shifts are the same, each day brings new challenges and we try our best to rise to them.
I volunteer between 16 and 60 hours every month depending on how much time I have, whether I have taken any annual leave or if my shifts overrun, which can happen very easily!
I always ensure that I have adequate rest between my shifts in the Force Contact Centre and as a special constable because my colleagues rely on me being able to carry out my duties.
Our force is small and as such you get to know people very quickly. I have worked with numerous specials and regulars and I have found that no one has turned me away when I needed to ask for some guidance or help. Quite the opposite, they gladly share their knowledge and experience with me, ensuring that we do our job to the best of our abilities.
There are many incidents that I have dealt with, the most memorable one being on duty at the airport. In 2017 I dealt with an elderly German lady who was lured to London Luton Airport on the pretence that she was due to inherit a large sum of money. Bearing in mind the victim was born in 1936, she was an easy target for fraudsters.
One of the airport staff notified us of her concerns for the lady. It transpired she had sent various bits of paperwork off to the offenders, including a photocopy of her passport. Thankfully she has hadn’t parted with any money, and apart from a very short trip to the UK she was unharmed. I bought a cup of tea for the victim, sat down with her and provided her with some reassurance as well as safeguarding advice.
I liaised with firearms officers to keep an eye on her overnight, arranged for a return flight to Germany for her the next morning and spoke to the staff at the special assistance desk to make sure she was able to board her flight due to some mobility issues. I reviewed CCTV, conducted intelligence checks and was able to identify the offender entering the airport while officers were with her. Our Cyber Crime Team then got involved and as the offender was from Leicestershire, the case was handed over to them.
At the Bedfordshire Police Awards 2017, the special constables at the London Luton Airport, which I was a part off, received the Productivity Award. This was a true team effort; we made numerous arrests, seized vehicles that shouldn’t have been on the roads and provided community reassurance with high visibility patrols in the area and won the award because of the effort we’d put in.
I would recommend that anyone considering applying to be a Special should do it. Most of us have joined because we wanted to make our community a safer place, because we were looking for a new challenge or to get a taste for policing.