Tyar byar tyar Khalsa ~ Metropolitan Police Special Constable, Raj Birk

Working as part of a close knit team, special constables also enjoy a solid support network and often form friendships t...

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Metropolitan Police special constables:
Volunteer as a special constable and help
make our city safer


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R (1K)esponding to 999 calls, giving evidence in court, tackling crime on the streets – these are just some of the duties carried out by volunteer police officers for the Metropolitan Police Service and if you can spare just 16 hours a month, you could join them.
If you like to spend every evening on the sofa, this isn’t for you. But if you feel you have a bit more to offer in your spare time, volunteering as a special constable could be the most rewarding decision you ever make.
Special constables wear the same uniform as regular police officers and have the same powers and responsibilities, including powers of arrest. They enjoy the challenge and variety of police work while serving their community and building a wealth of careerboosting skills.
As a special constable, you’ll work alongside regular officers, doing everything from foot and vehicle patrols to policing public events and taking part in crime ‘hotspot’ operations. And at the end of each shift, you’ll know you’ve helped make London a safer place.
Don’t worry if you don’t know your tangos from your foxtrots. When you become a special constable you’ll receive extensive training, with an initial foundation 
course followed by 18 months of advanced training and 60 hours of coached patrol. After that, you’ll receive ongoing training throughout your service,
 ensuring your skills and knowledge are at the forefront of modern policing. And if you’re concerned about the risks involved, the Metropolitan Police Service treats safety as a top priority.
Officer safety training includes self defence and all special constables wear a full police officer uniform with a helmet, body armour, handcuffs, radio and additional Officer Safety Equipment. So whether you’re assisting at a road accident, serving a warrant or diffusing a tense situation, you’ll be equipped to do it in the safest possible way.
While you won’t receive any financial rewards for your time, special constables do benefit from free travel on London’s Tubes, buses, DLR, Croydon Tramlink and TFL-operated London Overground services, both on and off duty.
The training and duties will also provide you with countless personal rewards. Volunteering as a special constable will sharpen your skills in problem solving, negotiating, decision making, team working, communication and coping under pressure, all of which will build your self-confidence, enrich your daily life and help advance your full-time career.
Working as part of a closeknit team, special constables also enjoy a solid support network and often form friendships that last a lifetime. You will be serving your community, facing new challenges every day and providing a vital link between the police and the people of London. For self-satisfaction, not many roles can beat that.

> Case study

Raj - Copy (15K)Mother of four Raj Birk is a special constable in the borough of Redbridge. She fits volunteering for the Metropolitan Police Service around her family life and a full-time job as an intelligence researcher.

How do you fit volunteering around your day job? I do my shifts as a special constable during evenings and weekends. The Metropolitan Police Service is flexible and will let you choose shifts according to your commitments. You only need to commit 16 hours a month, however, you can do more if you like.

What’s a typical day for a special constable? You can’t predict one day to the next. You’re assigned your duty at the start of each shift. Every day is different, that’s what makes being a special constable so challenging and exciting.

What qualities does a special constable need? Most important is the ability to listen and communicate. When you’re dealing with vulnerable people, it’s vital you can listen. You also need good decision-making and problem-solving skills, and you must be able to work as a team.

What backgrounds do special constables come from? All kinds. You don’t need any experience as you get full training when you join. You could be a housewife, a chef, whatever.

What are the rewards? One of the most satisfying parts of being a special constable is earning people’s trust. When people see the police uniform they know they can come and talk to you, and when you can help them and put a smile on their faces, that’s really rewarding. Sometimes I’ll be on patrol and someone will tap me on the back and say: ‘Well done’. People admire what we do and I love getting such a positive reaction from the community. My kids are really proud of me too. Every day there’s a new challenge as a special constable so I honestly finish each shift looking forward to the next. You’re always learning from the challenges you face, bettering yourself and making a real difference in your community. You’ve got to try it yourself.

Monday, June 6, 2011 METRO 47

Public Sector Recruitment
Volunteers' Week, which runs until June 7, celebrates the fantastic contribution that millions of volunteers make to society. Among them are Metropolitan Police Specials like Raj Birk, who tells Niki Chesworth why she gives her time to give something back
A busy working mother of four is probably the last person you would expect to volunteer her time to patrol the streets of London as a special constable. However, for Raj Birk it has proved to be the most rewarding thing she has ever done.

"I really look forward to it," she says. "I actually cannot wait to get out there. I love meeting people and I love the response I get. I am a Sikh and we thrive on serving our community, so for me this is all part of giving something back and helping other people."

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Wearing her turban and an almost permanent smile, Raj has become a well-known face in Redbridge, where she is part of the community.
"I speak four languages, which means I can help people who find it hard to communicate and it automatically reassures them," says Raj. "If I start speaking in Punjabi, for example, I can see them relax immediately. They find it really reassuring."

Raj, who has been working for the Met for the past 17 years and is currently an intelligence researcher, is allowed to use 16 hours during her working month to volunteer as a Special but says the hours are something that anyone can fit round work, families, friends and holidays . even if, like her, they have four children. "The only thing I regret is that I didn't do it sooner," adds Raj. "I volunteered because I wanted to give something back, but I have also gained so much too. Being a Special is teaching me a lot of valuable life skills, it is making me more confident and it teaches you to think outside the box. Working nine-to- five or eight-to-four becomes a routine, but when I am a Special every day is different."

Being a Metropolitan Special Constable gives volunteers the same powers and uniform as a regular police officer. All that is required is giving up at least 16 hours of their spare time a month to do something positive for themselves and the community. Special constables are involved in all aspects of policing London, which means they can be called on to help safeguard public safety and security at local or major events, to serve warrants and also to assist in the event of accidents, fights and fires.
So doesn't Raj ever fear for her safety?

"I have never felt vulnerable once," she says. "Putting on the uniform gives you a sense of security but I don't ever feel threatened. The uniform is what you are representing, but the fact that you look welcoming and are not intimidating means that you get a good response. That is why Specials are so important . we often come from the community and so we can provide a vital link with local people."
Having the same powers as regular police officers is a major responsibility, which is why Specials undergo thorough training in the many aspects of police work that they will carry out. This extensive training provides the basic skills and tools to work in each Special's chosen area, such as powers of arrest, preparing evidence for court and dealing with challenging situations. In addition to the foundation training, Specials receive further mandatory training sessions for 18 months and undergo 60 hours of "coached" patrol.

While Specials do not receive any financial rewards for their time, they do benefit from free travel on London's tubes, buses, DLR,

Croydon Tramlink and TFL-operated London Overground services, both on and off duty.

In return they can expect to enjoy a variety of police work, experiencing new and different challenges and working as part of a close-knit team.

Specials also develop transferable skills such as problem solving, negotiating, decision making, team working, communication skills and coping under pressure. It usually ensures that they benefit from their time as a special constable as much as the community they serve. In fact Raj has been so positive since she first volunteered as a special constable last autumn, that she has inspired her eldest daughter to become one, too.

My daughter, Jaspreet, is in her final year at university and is putting her language skills . Spanish, French, English, Hindi and Punjabi . to good use volunteering as a special in Westminster where there are so many tourists,h says proud mum Raj.
"When you first volunteer it is to give something back but once you've gone out once, you won't be able to give it up . it really is the most rewarding thing I have ever done."


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