Every one of them has something special

Darren Sutton's team ANL-140528-112243001
Darren Sutton's team ANL-140528-112243001
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On The Beat with Inspector Jim Tyner

Back in 1989 I started my police career as a volunteer Special Constable. Many officers and staff that currently work for Lincolnshire Police started the same way.

I have to say that special constables today are better trained and better equipped than I ever was. The Special Constabulary has a long tradition of public service. ‘Specials’ have played a vital role in the policing of Lincolnshire for hundreds of years and I am incredibly proud of the serving Specials we currently have working within South Holland.

Every week, volunteer Special Constables in South Holland put on their uniforms, don their police radios, handcuffs and PAVA pepper spray and join their regular officer colleagues on patrol. There isn’t a week goes by that they aren’t involved in making arrests, taking statements from victims, dealing with traffic collisions and combating anti-social behaviour. There is an everyday heroism in the way they police our communities. Here are just a few examples.

By day, Marc Fowler is a customer service manager. In his spare time, Special Sergeant Fowler is a diligent and contentious supervisor who brings credit to the Community Policing Team at Spalding. Not only does he commit a large amount of his spare time to supervising his Special Constables, he consistently displays professionalism, determination, dedication and attention to detail. He has dealt with road traffic collisions, shoplifters and drink-drivers.

Steve Harrington has been a Special for over two years, he is a self-employed legal advisor.

Last year Marc and Steve were on duty when they responded to a report of a male making threats to cause damage in the Holbeach area. These unpaid volunteers were the first to arrive at the scene. They discovered a man sat in a vehicle. While the officers were talking to the man, he took hold of a home-made petrol bomb and attempted to ignite it with a lighter. Both officers unhesitatingly took hold of the man, restrained him and prevented him igniting or throwing the petrol bomb. He was handcuffed and arrested on suspicion of possessing articles with intent to commit criminal damage.

Both officers later received a commendation for their actions.

Lucy Burton works in sales and has been a Special for nearly a year, committing to regular duties alongside her full-time colleagues, working towards independent status. Lucy says that she really enjoys the feeling of being part of the South Holland team. During her very first shift she made two arrests. The first was for a man who had breached his curfew. The second was when she arrested a man for assault outside a town centre pub.

Alex Vincent is a call taker and joined in 2013. He is currently being mentored by a regular constable, working towards completing his Professional Development Portfolio, so he can be assessed as fit for independent patrol status. Alex’s first arrest is also his most embarrassing. He says he was so busy trying to remember his training that, as he was applying handcuffs, he banged his head on a door frame! His favourite arrest was the driver of an Audi who had been stopped for speeding in Commercial Road, Spalding. The vehicle turned out to have been taken without consent of the owner and driven without insurance. Alex says : “Results like that are extremely rewarding and make it enjoyable. I work with a great team.”

Victoria Poultney is a workshop controller. She joined the Special Constabulary in 2011. Vicky often works on Friday and Saturday nights. When many of us are tucked up in bed, Vicky supports her colleagues policing the night-time economy. Vicky’s first arrest was a baptism of fire when she arrested a man for possessing drugs with intent to supply them in a town centre pub. Vicky says that she enjoys the amount of support she gets from her full-time colleagues and said: “I feel really appreciated.”

Tom Waltham is an estate agent and has been a Special for nearly three years. He assists the policing of the night-time economy on a Friday and Saturday evening. Tom’s first arrest was at a drugs warrant in Moulton Seas End. Tom says that his favourite experience of being a Special was last year’s Spalding Flower Parade, where he was involved in policing the town centre and able to interact with members of the public.

Alex Irving is a call taker, joining us in 2012. Alex regularly gives many hours assisting regular officers in Spalding. Alex’s favourite arrest was as a result of a stop/check of a man in Victoria Street car park in Spalding just a few weeks ago. The man was arrested for possession of drugs and a knife. Alex says what was particularly pleasing was that this was not as a result of a member of the public phoning in, but by being on patrol in the right place at the right time and doing the right thing.

I must make a special mention (if you pardon the pun) of Darren Sutton. Darren is the manager of a shop in Spalding town centre. He has all the demands of managing a shop but is also the Special Inspector responsible for all of South Holland’s Specials. He has recently completed 11 years’ public service.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: the term, ‘special constabulary’ may now be a quaintly old-fashioned reminder of Victorian-era policing, but the hard work, dedication and everyday heroism of Darren, Lucy, Tom, Victoria, Marc, Steve, both Alex’s and the many other volunteers who patrol with them shows that this is exactly what these wonderful volunteers are: special.