Special constables step up to support West Midlands Police during Covid-19
Volunteers in West Midlands Police's specials team are helping the force bolster policing efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.
Special constables have contributed a combined total of more than 2,000 hours to frontline policing in the last two weeks.
It includes 471 hours on dedicated Covid-19 patrols around key locations across the West Midlands – despite 51 of the unit's 188-strong team being currently unavailable due to self-isolation or employment in critical NHS and food supply roles.
One of those specials stepping up during the pandemic is 19-year-old Harry Sarkar, who is working at Brierley Hill station. He is among thousands of students whose university lectures have been put on hold due to Covid-19. He still has coursework to complete, but is determined to help response units attending emergency incidents.
Harry said: "As specials we are required to do 16 hours a month with the force – but at the moment I am now full-time on response working out of Brierley Hill and doing around 130 hours a month.
“I have dealt with all sorts of incidents from domestic abuse to large disorders. And recently myself and a colleague pulled over a car and arrested several men linked to gang crime on suspicion of drugs supply.
“It is a difficult time – helping and protecting people is what I love doing so the more I can do the more I enjoy it.
"It always feels like it's my first day every day I put the uniform on – and I am helping take some strain off my colleagues.”
Specials Deputy Chief Officer Iain O’Brien, added: “As ever I am humbled by the response of our specials – they are putting themselves forward to protect and support the community and West Midlands Police during this emergency.
“As a constabulary we have been supporting response units, traffic and motorway patrols, local policing and wider community engagement.
“Some of our specials have been furloughed while their day job is put on hold – they have chosen to volunteer that time to help others in our communities. They should all rightly be proud of their commitment to policing and to public safety.
“We have HGV drivers, doctors, nurses, food industry specialists and carers all on our books. Their jobs have never been more important so we have taken steps to ensure they don’t feel under pressure to fulfil their hours as a special.
“It speaks volumes about our team that others are stepping up to make up those hours and more, while some key workers are still keen to fulfil their police volunteering.”
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “Our specials are simply brilliant. They are a key part of the policing team.
"They do thousands of hours of policing and are a major part of our response to coronavirus.
“To ensure the resilience of the force we are proceeding with recruitment, but also making more use of special constables and we are also working with government to those that are now unable to work during the coronavirus crisis, so we can make even more use of them.”
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