Why Susan likes to get that Special feeling

A MOTHER who strives to put something back into the community has joined the Special Constabulary and is encouraging others to do the same. Susan Penn, 27, who lives in the Bedwell area of Stevenage, is one of around 40 Specials across the town but she

A MOTHER who strives to "put something back into the community" has joined the Special Constabulary and is encouraging others to do the same.

Susan Penn, 27, who lives in the Bedwell area of Stevenage, is one of around 40 Specials across the town but she is hoping to boost recruitment levels.

Special constables, who provide a vital link between regular officers and the community, volunteer some of their spare time to help and support the regular police force. They have the same powers as regular police constables and wear the same uniform but more are leaving the Specials to join the regular police force.

Susan, who juggles being a volunteer with caring for her three children and studying for a degree through the Open University, said: "We have quite a few constables leaving to join the regulars but we need to keep a constant flow.

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"At Stevenage we're quite unique. We do everything that regular officers do and have a close working relationship. We answer 999 calls; attend fires, assaults and community events.

"I joined the Specials to get out of the house and because I was interested in joining the regular force. There's a great bunch of people working together who are all like-minded and it's voluntary so people do it because they want to.

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"I have been to lots of fights, a sudden death and do lots of high visibility patrolling in the community so people know we're out there. And I get a sense of achievement knowing I'm giving something back to the community."

Susan works with police community support officers (PCSOs) and ward constables in the Bedwell and Pin Green areas of Stevenage, focusing on high visibility patrolling and intervention in order to reassure people.

"Joining the Specials gives you a good insight into whether you want to join the regular police force," she said. "And it's a good thing to put on your CV because you learn new life skills.

"Camaraderie is the most enjoyable thing about the job. There are about 40 special constables and if I had an issue they would be round here within the hour.

"If anyone is interested in putting something back into the community and want to give back some time then I would definitely recommend it."

l Special constables must volunteer a minimum of 16 hours of their time a month.

People must be at least 18-and-a-half years old, be a British citizen and have a good standard of health and fitness.

If you would like to volunteer to be a Special, or would like more information, you can call on 0845 608 3000 or visit www.policecouldyou.co.uk


* It was not until 1820 that an Act was passed allowing magistrates to recruit men as special constables and a further Act in 1835 redefined the Special Constabulary as a volunteer organisation

* In 2005 there were 13,000 Specials across England and Wales

* Around a third of Specials are women and over three per cent are from ethnic backgrounds

* Special constables are awarded the Queen's Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct on the completion of nine years' service

* Specials were an important part of the state's response to the British police strikes in 1918 and 1919 and the UK General Strike of 1926

* The last known paid special constables still in existence are the Epping Forest Keepers, who are sworn in as special constables for the both Metropolitan and Essex police districts under the Epping Forest Act 1878

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