AN inspector in Trafford Police has praised the efforts of the Specials forces during the Coronavirus crisis who have been doubling their efforts to keep communities safe.

The Special Constabulary at Greater Manchester Police is made up of volunteer officers who give up their spare time to assist with policing across local communities in Trafford and are asked to commit to donating a minimum of 16 hours per month.

However, Special Inspector Rob Mitchell says you can understand people not wanting to put themselves on the frontline, but Trafford officers are showing a consistent commitment to serve our communities, regardless of the risks and continue to help keep our local communities safe.

He said “Being a Special Constable is a weird and wonderful role to do as a volunteer, it certainly opens your eyes to a whole new world.

"I have been a Special for over seven years now and absolutely love what I do.

"I have an amazing team of officers at Trafford who are highly dedicated and devoted to the role.

"Before the pandemic my team of 22 officers would volunteer 400-500 hours per month between them, which alone is amazing considering they all have other full time jobs or study, as well as family and loved ones at home. Since the Government lockdown restrictions came into place, my team were deployed to engage, educate and inform the public about the health guidance and we are now averaging 750 hours per month.”

Everyone has their own reasons for joining the specials at GMP but they all want to help and support their communities.

Special Constable Jennifer Smith said “I had 10 years experience of working for the youth services to help break down barriers between the public and young people. I recently joined GMP as police staff - Case management lead, which involves completing police checks, working on child protection issues with partner agencies and supporting domestic abuse cases and welfare concerns.

“I joined GMP Special Constabulary two years ago as I wanted to use my experience of working with young people and supporting the Trafford community by being there to listen, to help and to make a real difference. It’s a good feeling to know that you can make families and their children feel safer and build trust and rapport while on patrol.

"As I work during the week, I’m usually on patrol during evenings and Weekends supporting colleagues on 999 emergency calls or with the neighbourhood teams.

"As a Specials team, we use crime intelligence, reports and INTEL to undertake targeted deployment such as theft from vehicles, anti social behaviour or reassurance patrols, so we can be very pro-active but are reliant on the public reporting crime and issues to GMP.”

Following the outbreak of the COVID, Jennifer said “We have been supporting our neighbourhood colleagues to engage and explain to communities the importance of following the Government advice and guidelines. The majority of residents understand that we are trying to keep them and their families safe and healthy. It’s been heart warming when members of the public say Thank You or give us a wave when out on patrol. Sometimes it’s the smallest gestures that can really make a difference”.

As a Special constable, no shift is ever the same. Jennifer added “You can be dealing with a vulnerable person, then onto a road traffic collision and then to a burglary. One memorable case was a foreign national who had got lost and was walking around Trafford for over 3 hours.

"Unfortunately, he didn’t speak any English but with us having access to mobile phones, we managed to strike up a conversation using a mobile translation app and returned him safely to his city centre hotel. He was extremely grateful that someone had come to his aid and the relief in his eyes that someone wanted to help was an amazing feeling. Knowing that we had helped someone in a dangerous and frightening situation is the reason I put my uniform on every week.

“It’s not all about blue lights and sirens, it’s just being there when we are needed."

As a new Special Constable, Lauren Whitworth who joined in June last year said “It continues to be a great learning experience, which I’m well suited to as my full time job is Head of Maths for a local secondary school.

" I have always been interested in policing and I didn’t know the specials existed but luckily my Mum looked on the GMP website which explained the volunteer role of the Special constabulary so I applied straight away”.

From patrolling the classrooms to patrolling the streets of Trafford, Lauren said: “With over 10 years teaching experience, it’s great to take on a new challenge in which you learn new skills and help to support the local community.

"It makes a pleasant change for me to be the pupil while the team teach and support me with joint patrols, practical experiences, leading arrests and learning about the technology GMP use”.

“The pupils at the school are intrigued to know more about the role of the Special constabulary and a couple of them have shown a real interest in joining the Police. One of my ex pupils now works for GMP at Stretford, so it’s great to see some familiar faces from school in the police station (for the right reasons)”.

Lauren could only work weekends due to her full time teaching commitment, but since lockdown, while the school remains open for key workers at the moment most of her work is now home based supporting pupils, parents and staff with this change in education.

“I have been able to increase my shifts to over 33 hours per week supporting the response and neighbourhood teams. It’s great to know that we are supporting regular officers to help to ease some of the work pressures as emergency calls are still coming in as well as COVID concerns too”.

Lauren's friends and family have been so supportive of her role and have said how proud they are of her and the commitment that she shows to both her roles as a teacher and a special constable.

Chief Inspector Nasim added “The time our Specials invest in the Trafford communities is invaluable. Especially when so many also manage successful careers out of policing. I would like to reiterate the support these officers receive from their families to allow them to fulfil duties as Special Constables is recognised and really appreciated.

“At Trafford we have a long proud history of volunteers and many of our Special Constables have volunteered for GMP for a considerable time. Without their support, at certain times we would really struggle to manage; Thank you.”