Power workers given time to make streets safer

Police numbers in Suffolk could soon be boosted thanks to a new partnership between Suffolk Constabulary and employer UK Power Networks.

Any employee from the power company who volunteers as a special constable can now get 18 days paid leave a year to carry out their duties.

The Suffolk force already has 150 special constables across the county who have the same powers as regular officers, complete the same duties and wear the same uniform.

Chief Constable Steve Jupp said: “I’d really like to thank UK Power Networks for their commitment to the Constabulary’s employer supported policing scheme and my thanks also go to those employees who have signed up for the scheme already and those who are considering it.

“An employer makes quite a commitment when they agree to give staff an extra 18 days paid leave but I have seen for myself how being a special can make a very positive impact on their substantive post as well.  We must not forget the tremendous drive and motivation of everyone who takes on the role of a volunteer special – their commitment is incredible.

He added: “Specials add a different perspective to the policing family, so Suffolk Constabulary and UK Power Networks both benefit. It is a real win-win situation.”

UK Power Networks already has some specials among its ranks, including Adrian Capp, an information systems support manager, who has been a special constable since 2007 and loves the voluntary work.

He said: “It opens you up to a completely different view of life and you can see a positive impact from your work. There’s a lot of proactive work in the community, including with schools. You can steer outcomes into something positive and support people.  It teaches you a different skill set after working in an office.”

Adrian thinks it’s “brilliant” that his employer now gives him 12 paid hours a month to be a special constable.

With a full time job and a family he was struggling to fit in the minimum 16 hours, but now he can fulfil part of his extra role in the day.

“I have a good job, a lovely family and live in a nice area, I wanted to give something back and UK Power Networks are helping me to give something back to the community,” he said.

He hopes that more colleagues at the company, which delivers electricity to 8.3million homes and businesses across the East of England, London and the South East, will decide to take the same step he did and see a positive impact from their work.

Twenty one year old Becky Groom signed up to be a Special two years ago and says it has helped her become confident and apply for a new post.

She now describes her police work as “my main hobby” and says she loves it.

“Combining the two worlds has been a lot easier than I thought, UK Power Networks has really helped. I have been able to be flexible and also do this work in my own time,” she said.

After her initial training Becky, a customer advisor, carried out her first shift with her sergeant in November 2018.

“It was good and very scary, I was worried about the unknown but in less than an hour I knew it would be the best thing ever,” she added.

During her police shifts Becky has dealt with domestic abuse, mental health, disputes, fights, speeding, not wearing a seat belt and burglaries. She has also made eight arrests.

Becky says every day is different and it has boosted her confidence to such an extent that pursued a new role at work.

She says the company has really helped, she has been able to be flexible and also do the work in her own time and said: “I recommend it to anyone I speak to because it’s completely changed my life for the better.”

Steve Remnant, Head of Reward and HR Services for UK Power Networks said:  “As part of our ongoing commitment to support the communities we serve, UK Power Networks is pleased to work in partnership with Suffolk Police and other forces to allow our employees paid time off for this important civil duty.”

 Karen Harris, Specials, volunteer and cadets manager said special constables give a minimum of 16 hours a month to the voluntary work at a time that suits them. They complete 10 training weekends that include aspects of the law, traffic law, personal safety, first aid, people management, communication and confidence building.  Probation lasts around a year and training is ongoing during that time.

The Employer Supported Policing scheme is a partnership that benefits employers, their staff and the police service by releasing special constables to volunteer in their communities.

To find out more contact Karen.harris@suffolk.pnn.police.uk or telephone 01473 613570

Pictured above is Adrian Capp at work as a special constable.

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