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Being a special police constable during a pandemic

01 Jun 2020

Working full-time for Openreach and volunteering as a special constable, read how Ami fits it all in and the impact the coronavirus has had.

I’m a project manager for Openreach and I also volunteer as a special constable with Devon and Cornwall police based in Plymouth. 

It’s a minimum of 16 hours per month as a special constable but last month I did more than 100 hours because of the lockdown while still doing my full-time job. It’s been possible because my manager is very supportive, and as an Openreach employee I’m allowed flexibility and time off for volunteering work. 

Blockquote

"The people the police deal with regularly, like drug dealers, don’t change their lifestyle to adhere to government lockdown rules."

Volunteering

I’m a project manager for Openreach and I also volunteer as a special constable with Devon and Cornwall police based in Plymouth. 

It’s a minimum of 16 hours per month as a special constable but last month I did more than 100 hours because of the lockdown while still doing my full-time job. It’s been possible because my manager is very supportive, and as an Openreach employee I’m allowed flexibility and time off for volunteering work. 

Progressing my career

When I applied for the position at Openreach I did it as a way to progress my career; the job’s a promotion for me. My experience as a special constable helped me to win the role.

I started out in an EE contact centre in Plymouth on the phones in broadband technical support, then I worked on urgent cases and longer-term faults.

My job now has far more flexibility as I work from home in a virtual Openreach team – we’re based all over the country and use technology to work effectively together.

What it’s like being a special constable during the coronavirus pandemic

As special constables we are trained to do the same work as regular paid police. Openreach has supported my training by giving me paid leave.

We respond to emergency calls – and the police have needed extra support over lockdown. The people the police deal with regularly, like drug dealers, don’t change their lifestyle to adhere to government lockdown rules. We’ve also seen an increase in domestic violence.

For safety reasons, jobs like domestic violence require two police officers attending. Domestics are the cause of the highest number of officers being injured while on duty. Seeing what some other people’s normal is like has been a real eye-opener.

In such circumstances it’s often very difficult to adhere to social distancing, so we’re at heightened risk for the virus.

Obviously, we must get close to people when splitting them apart during domestics or searching drug-dealers. People also spit at us. Much of our training is focused on how to stay safe.

A typical shift is Friday night 9pm to 7am. The other thing that’s developed during lockdown is people reporting their neighbours. Break-ins for commercial buildings have also increased.

PPE is supplied when you know there is a confirmed case of the virus and we always wear gloves. We do try not to go into people’s homes but of course in some situations you need to.

People can go to prison for spitting at police officers. What I can’t understand for the life of me is how this also happens to paramedics. Who would want to abuse and spit at a paramedic!

On the plus side people are more aware of us now and let us queue jump so we can quickly get some food and carry on with the job. Some local take-away places have also kindly given us free food.

You also get to do some fun things such as judging at the Royal Cornwall Show pigmy goat competition.

Where my two roles have overlapped recently is helping to protect Openreach engineers who’ve felt threatened while working due to 5G conspiracy theorists.

Yes, it takes a lot of my time but I’m proud to be supporting my community in this way. I encourage anybody to be a special constable or take up a volunteering opportunity that resonates with them – there’s plenty out there to choose from.

 

Ami Gasson

Project Manager and Special Constable