Monday, 19 July 2010

Is This How we Should Treat Volunteers?

I have never been the biggest fan of Specials in the police. Most are well meaning but incompetent. Some get off on the uniform and power thing. None are properly trained.

The new Government is focused on volunteering. This is seen as the way forward in all areas of society. It seems likely that in future all recruits to the police will first have to have been a Special for up to two years. I sincerely hope that along with this policy we improve the training for Specials.

I noticed this story on the web. A criminal is being chased, by police, in a stolen car. A Special sergeant is nearby and wants to get involved. Perhaps injudiciously, he does a three point turn in the road. The stolen car ploughs into the side of him seriously injuring the passenger in the police car. The IPCC supervise an investigation and the Special sergeant is prosecuted and fined, with costs, £1300 and banned from driving for 6 months.

If Mrs Miggins was manoeuvring in the road and a stolen car being driven at excessive speed crashed into her would she have been prosecuted? What happened to the driver of the stolen car? Was his punishment as severe as this? I have my doubts.

The loss of this mans licence might have cost him his paid job. If I was this Special sergeant, volunteering my services for free and doing the best I could with the training I had received and I lost my licence for 6 months and had to pay £1300, I think I would tell the police to stick their volunteering.


  1. "A criminal is being chased by police in a stolen car."

    I thought the police had their own cars? Surely stealing someone else's goes against the policing pledge or something?

    Yes, I agree they should be given a pat on the back rather than punished for their help.

  2. please excuse me, but the first words out of my cop's mouth are: "Are you shitting me?"

    In Calif, some departments have "reserve" police officers- at 3 levels. 1- very basic training and MUST at all times be with a regular officer
    2- have a little more training and can do somethings on their own.
    3- fully trained and can work on their own (usually paid, but part time or semi retired)

    But to fine the poor chap for causing the crash that the asshole in the stolen car really caused is ..."are you shitting me?"

  3. "The new Government is focused on volunteering."

    Surely they don't think the rest of you were conscripted.

    Agree with the main point that the Special seems to have been treated very harshly compared to the hypothetical Mrs Miggins, but then Mrs Miggins wouldn't have foreknowledge that a recklessly driven stolen car was nearby. It doesn't say whether he knew that the stolen car was approaching on that particular road or not but if we assume that he did you could say that his decision was a risky one, though even then it still seems like he's been punished for bad luck as much as anything else. Had he made the turn twenty seconds sooner or later, or a few hundred yards up or down the road, the collision might well never have happened. But wasn't the chase always likely to end when the idiot in the Evo crashed into someone or something?

  4. Interestingly a slightly different story here. Here the 3-point turn is framed as if its a last minute thing he came up with when he needed a defence.
    Having said surely seeing as the passenger in the car was apparently his inspector, it can't be that much of a miscarriage of justice. Or am I being short sighted to think that all inspectors are like gadget

  5. "Most are well meaning but incompetent. Some get off on the uniform and power thing. None are properly trained"

    Hmm not sure which Specials you have been policing with recently? Or maybe you haven't because you see them as 'overtime stealers'?

  6. ''I have never been the biggest fan of Specials in the police.'' .. I hate to be the specials in your nick.
    ''Most are well meaning but incompetent. Some get off on the uniform and power thing. None are properly trained.'' .. We don't complain when given the task of GOALER, or when we are picked to man a cordon. How about we tell you where to stuff our volunteering. Lets see how you cope on a Friday/Saturday night when we're not around.

  7. Fair enough. I'll withdraw my application now as the regulars obviously do not need specials so you can do it all yourselves.

    Enjoy the feeling of losing a special due to your own bigoted idiocy.

  8. Chill out peeps. As a special with seven years in myself the sad reality is that we don't get enough training.

    I wouldn't agree with the uniform comments though, I have met some Specials on a power trip but I have met regulars who have been no different either. Part of the problem, as I see it, is regulars (at least where I work) are not willing to fully tutor SCs to help them reach the level where they become operationally competent. As a result we only ever seem to have between 20-25% independent patrol officers. If we want the image of Specials to change then Specials themselves need to take some responsibility for their own development, and regulars should - as standard - assist those SCs to help them make the grade.

  9. Before I get any more upset Specials writing posts, let me say that this post is about supporting a Special Colleague who I believe was unfairly treated.
    I made some general comments about my views on Specials to indicate that I am not just supporting the officer just because that is what he is.
    For the record:
    I do not regard Specials as overtime stealers; there is enough work and overtime out there.
    I appreciate that Specials get a lot of crud jobs to deal with.
    Some Specials are never going to reach the standard of being a regular and should never have been recruited.
    I appreciate that there are regulars out there who also like to get of on the uniform/power thing.
    Specials are not trained to a high enough standard. Part of that is their fault for not being available on a regular basis to work with the same officer and team. A lot of it is the fact that regulars should be allocated to Specials to work with them and develop them. This isn't happening to any great extent.

  10. I agree that specials themselves should take responsibility and if I pass allt he various tests and interviews I'm fully aware that I'm going to need to prove that I can do the job and I'm fully aware that I'm going to need help so there will be times that I'll be askng people with experience to share with me that experience. Hopefully that isn't too much to ask?

  11. I work regularly, am additionally trained as a response officer and am traffic trained. I do over 1000 hours a year and have, only today, attended 14 jobs which have all been resulted without the assistance of any regular officer (except the custody sergeant of course). Incompetent? Stick it in your pipe and smoke it mate - wouldn't like to be you when you press that orange button and your "incompetent" colleagues are the only people able to back you up. With attitudes like that I wouldn't be breaking my neck to assist you. Some regulars need to give their heads a shake and realise that in these financially constrained times a special might be the only help you can get...

  12. are you all talking about the police force so widely admired by the public?

  13. As a Special... Fair point. To a limit.

    1) No offence, but if you're not pursuit or stinger trained, you have no place in a pursuit (and I've been in several whilst double crewing regs, and I wouldn't dare get in the way whilst driving along with my standard permit). The same can be said against a fair number of regs though - little bit of blue-light fever always happens.

    2) We aren't given full training. We shouldn't be, either. That said, a fair number of the days in regs training are wasted on things that can be covered just as well more quickly, and this happens on Specials training. Equally, we don't need the full skill set - interviews, major crime investigations, even the full investigation or minor crime isn't really in most of our remits. And you can get the extra training if you need it.

    The key point is that Specials should be assigned to reactive teams prior to being made independent. There is no way a Special should be independent within three years. But if we do make efforts to double crew regs, and pick up crap but challenging jobs (which we will get wrong - think of your probbies!), then after three years the respect should be there if we make the grade.

    Short answer: regs should consider all Specials with less than two years in the job as probationers and treat them as such, and with less than three years as probbies just out on shift.

    There is another question about our recruitment process, but that's another post...

  14. @Lex "Some Specials are never going to reach the standard of being a regular and should never have been recruited."...
    I have to laugh because I've met a few regulars and thought exactly the same thing.

  15. As long as training is seen as an abstraction and not an investment, this debate will run and run, as it has for the past ---years (insert your own guesstimate figures back there, they're probably all true)

  16. In my experience pursuits require a lot of skill and training that most specials don't have. I've been in the situation where a stolen vehicle is coming up behind me, being followed by a traffic officer who is supervising the pursuit. I pulled over and let it all go past me and rejoined when it was safe to join in with the inevitable starburst. I doubt I would have been thanked for getting involved in the actual pursuit.

  17. The contributor with the original name 'Anonymous' has given us a link to a press report of the court case.

    The Special Sergeant told his Inspector who was a passenger that he was not going to let the drunk driver get away. He swung the police car across the road and ignored his Inspector's instruction not to do so.

    The Special was not authorised to take part in pursuits or to stop vehicles and was presumably surprised to find out that drunks in stolen cars do crash into police vehicles. The excuse he gave was that he was trying to turn the car round, but nobody has said why it was necessary to do so, when the stolen car was upon him instantly. The result shows that the manoeuvre was dangerous, but it would have been dangerous anyway to make a three point turn, with a drunk driver in a stolen car in the area.

    The sentence seems to me to be quite appropriate.

  18. Hang on there are two possiblities to this story as I see it. First, the officer did a 3 point turn without realising the stolen car was coming at him, in which case prosecuting him is totally unreasonable. However, the alternative that I can immediately think of is that he used his vehicle to attempt to bar the stolen car from passing. In which case, the question is whether his driving was dangerous... if the answer is no then again the prosecution is unreasonable. If the answer is that what he did was dangerous then the fact that the other car was stolen doesnt absolve him of responsiblity.

  19. Sierra Charlie03 August, 2010 15:26

    Hmm, lots of elements to this post. Sounds a bit like the SC in question was stupid. Yesterday there was a report of a GMP special who was convicted of perjury and GBH after a Friday night bundle. I have no sympathy with either your example or the GMP bloke.

    Far too many of us **are** incompetent. Some of us have been allowed out unsupervised far too soon. Others are very good and with a sensible attitude and lots of experience. The problem comes in how to differentiate between us. Some of us aren't even well-meaning.

    It's a very difficult situation. There is no doubt that we provide valuable additional help at times. There has to be some investment by regular officers in getting us to a level of experience where we can be of genuine use. But at the same time most of us don't want to be a burden on the people we are actually trying to assist.

    Unfortunately there are lots of people in Britain 2010 who think there can be a one-size-fits-all solution to all the above problems. In reality only some people have the attitude and commitment to be useful specials, others don't have the "nous".

  20. Having been a special and now working in another part of law enforcement full time whereby we work along the police very frequently I would say that the incompetent tag is rather unfair. Without getting the dictionary out that to me speaks of a bit more than a training need - if someone does a task but not fully to the standard is that incompetence or are they less competent than they should be - incompetence to me is more like wilful stupidity, lack of ability etc of a terminal irreparable nature. I have to say from the many w/s I have seen, that certainly in some things a fair number of regular officers are also incompetent, since despite all their training and time in the job they are still incapable of writing out a simple w/s, labellign exhibits etc. Specials certainly should be given more training but equally one thing that develops skills (or even competence) is repetition and experience and many specials in the time they can devote simply don't get the chance to improve their skills - though as I say having seem some w/s esp off of PSU type unit officers, even daily exposure to doing statements doesn't seem to have helped them.