Special Constables were responsible for Sussex Police’s first ‘Response Takeover’ on Saturday (June 6) in a fitting culmination to Volunteers’ Week.
The event saw the Wealden response hub managed solely by a team of 12 volunteer officers for an entire late shift, from 5pm to 4am.
Organised and executed by Special Constable Steve Wood and involving Special Constables from Crawley, Brighton, Eastbourne, Uckfield and Hailsham, the takeover celebrated National Specials Weekend by highlighting the valuable contribution of Special Constables to the police force.
The event also provided an opportunity for some multi-agency working with two Special Constables from British Transport Police joining to patrol the district’s railway stations.
Newly-appointed Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Julia Chapman said: “This event was a fantastic opportunity for Sussex Police to highlight the valuable work of our Special Constables and to celebrate the significant contribution they make to the force.
“I was delighted to attend the start of the ‘response takeover’ and really enjoyed seeing and speaking with all the Special Constables that had signed up for the shift.
“Thank you to all the officers, special and regular, who worked hard to make this event happen and to make such a success. Your efforts – not just during this weekend but all year round – are hugely appreciated.”
The shift started with a welcome from T/DCC Chapman and Chief Inspector Di Lewis, district commander for Eastbourne and Lewes.
The team of Special Constables then prepared for duty, equipped with a wide range of skills between them including those trained in response driving, statement taking and suspect interviewing. A unit of Police Constables remained on site on standby in case they were needed.
Over the course of the 11-hour shift, Special Constables responded to numerous incidents including road traffic collisions, missing people and reports of suspicious behaviour, as well as dealing with coronavirus-related calls and transporting people to custody.
When not attending a call, they actively patrolled anti-social behaviour and drug hot-spots, as well as rural villages where burglaries had recently taken place.
Officers completed all post-incident paperwork themselves, meaning there was nothing to hand over to those starting on the early shift.
The newly-appointed head of the Special Constabulary, SC Alan Rankin Thorn, took a step back from management duties on the night to fill a front-line operational role instead. He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the shift. I got to see quite a bit of the countryside, had some good company and did the longest blues runs in a very long time!”
He was working alongside SC Andrew Jelinek, who chose this event as his last operational shift as a Special Constable before joining the regulars.
SC Steve Wood said: “The event was a great success. We attended and competently dealt with every job that came in, and everyone really enjoyed the shift.”