Women’s History Month – 13 years of volunteering

Tracey Bateman is one of our longest serving female special constables. She has been with us for almost 13 years and in that has been to a variety of jobs and helped a multitude of different people.

She was inspired to join by a talk from one of our officers when she worked in a retail store and started her volunteering journey with Bedfordshire Police in 2008.

The Specials Chief Officer at the time came to do a presentation at a shopping centre retailer meeting when I was working in Debenhams.

He presented an idea to create a Shop Watch team, supported by retailers, where they would allow staff one day a month to work in the centre as a special constable.

We were so keen to become specials we even got a Sergeant to take us to the gym to practise the bleep test.

There was a small uptake with just myself and one other passing the recruitment process. I began training in January and attested a few months later in July.

Patrolling the nightlife in the local towns on Friday and Saturday evenings was one of my earlier roles. We used to do foot patrol; from about 6pm to 10pm then jump on a van and work until about 2am visiting pubs and clubs to test for drugs in the toilets on a weekly basis.

There have been a lot of changes to policing over the years. Special constables are now a lot more integrated with the force overall and there is a real need for us to support our regular counterparts.

When I first started, we also attended a lot of community events such as fetes and shows. 

But resourcing this kind of duty has reduced and now we work a lot closer with our regular colleagues.

We are now able to take up specialised roles such as Op Meteor, airport policing and football spotting. I have been a spotter for about six years now and love being part of the team.

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I definitely feel more confident when dealing with people and have made many friends with both specials and regular officers. 

I love it when you’ve dealt with something that could have really turned hostile or become violent, but you have calmed the whole situation down and it has ended with everyone going away happy.

I can honestly say that being female special constable has never caused me an issue.

It has actually has helped me on lots of occasions and certainly does when I’m a spotter in football policing. In all my time as a special, I have drawn but never had to use my baton and truly believe that being able to talk to people has prevented trouble starting or getting out of control.

My knowledge on the law has proved useful on occasions outside of my time in uniform – but friends and family do expect you to know everything!

The training we have received for First Aid and Personal Safety and other areas such as diversity, dementia, and hate crime have all had a positive impact on being able to deal with members of the public on and off duty.

I would wholeheartedly recommend anyone, male or female to join the special constabulary. 

It’s a worthwhile role and you can get so much satisfaction out of it.  I believe I make a difference and am so glad I attended that meeting almost 13 years ago.

It has been one of the best things I ever did and I still enjoy it immensely.

If you have been inspired by Tracey’s story and want to follow in her footsteps by joining the special constabulary click here.

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