Meet Special Constable, Paul Sturrock
From hearing church bells in Sonning-on-Thames, where he has been managing an estate for 15 years and raising his 4 children, to sitting in a police station hearing the daily briefing with colleagues before starting his shift, we recently spoke to our colleague Paul about his volunteering career as a Special Constable.
Paul, why did you apply to become a Special Constable?
Policing is something I’ve always wanted to do but I genuinely thought that ship had sailed. It seemed a great way of being involved, having the same powers and doing the same things as our sworn in Police Officers.
How did you first hear about the role?
Through the TVP website. You have instant doubts in your mind that “maybe I’m too old” but you can sit there and think “it’s not for me” or you can give it a go. I’m so glad I did! I joined when I was 43, and the attestation was the day after my birthday. Even the application at that stage in my life was daunting and I had this thing where “I’m over 40, I’m not what they need”. However, I felt I brought a lot of life skills to the role. I was the oldest on my intake, but I kept up and I’m still here.
How do you fit your work as a Special around your life commitments?
You’re assigned to a response team and each month I note their shifts and try to align what I do with those times. You have enough advance notice and could plan up to 12 months in advance if you wanted to. I can fit it in because it’s so flexible.
You’ve brought your life skills to the role, have you taken anything the other way?
Undoubtedly a newfound confidence in myself. Whatever we do as Specials, we make sure we do the best job we can – it’s making sure that when you start a task you finish it. I find that mentality passes over into what I do day to day.
It also helped me develop and have the compassion to understand what people are going through; making a difference to someone at what is perhaps the worst moment of their lives – being able to do that is a privilege.
That seems to be a common theme in policing – making a difference on someone’s worst day.
I genuinely think that’s the key for what we do. Yes, people see one side of it and we do have to make sure that people follow the law, but the amount of work that we do away from that, whether it’s helping homeless people, people suffering with a mental health crisis, or looking for missing persons, we have such an investment in people you don’t see.
I’ve experienced things now that I thought I would never experience. I would never have known how to speak to someone suffering with mental health issues, and I’m confident enough now to really take the time to appreciate the situation they’re in.
I also find that when I’m talking to people, they can’t get their head around the fact that I’m not getting paid for it. I try to help them understand that as Specials we get so much more out of it.
What would you say to someone that was considering joining as a Special Constable?
You get so much out of it personally for your own development no matter what age you are. You’ll experience things that are scary, things that will break your heart, and everything in between.
It’s never too late in life to learn new skills and meet new people. I would strongly encourage anyone to give it a go. Don’t be daunted by it – take on the challenge and you’ll be out on response before you know it.
If you’re interested in taking on an exciting and rewarding volunteer opportunity with the Special Constabulary at Thames Valley Police, you can learn more about the role on our Specials Constables page.