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Behind the badge: A day in the life of a Special Constable at Northumbria Police

Special Constable, Kathryn Armstrong, gives us a glimpse into the world of making a real impact in her community.

Written by Rachael Nichol
Published 20.01.2024

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Ever wanted a change from your repetitive routine? How about joining the ranks as a Special Constable with Northumbria Police?

It’s more than just an after-hours gig; it’s a unique volunteer opportunity that lets you break free from the ordinary, acquire new skills, and truly make a difference in your local community.

And that’s exactly what Special Constable, Kathryn Armstrong, does. Whilst fitting this rewarding role alongside her part-time Dental Therapist role, Kathryn now leaps out of bed in the morning and has never looked back since.

We caught up with Kathryn to go behind the badge to find out what it really takes to become a Special Constable.

HLN TOP TIP: Join an online information event to find out more before you apply by following this link.

Northumbria Police

WHY DID YOU WANT TO BECOME A SPECIAL CONSTABLE?

I’ve always had a passion for helping my community and being a Special Constable at Northumbria Police lets me do just that alongside my 9-5. Communities often face tough situations, and I wanted to be there to help.

What’s crucial is that in this role, I’m part of the team from the moment I step into the shift. Wearing the same uniform as regular officers, I’m included in everything they do.

Whether it’s a 999 call or any other situation, I’m right there in the action, and that’s what keeps me volunteering.

Northumbria Police

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL SHIFT LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

The variety in my shifts is extraordinary, a far cry from the repetitive nature of my day job. Working alongside serving officers and other volunteers, every day is a learning experience.

From dealing with anti-social behaviour to foot and vehicle patrols, I love the unpredictable nature of the work. It’s a role where I genuinely make a difference in people’s lives and make an impact in my community. It’s such a rewarding way to use my spare time.

Northumbria Police

HAVE YOU FACED ANY CHALLENGES ALONG THE WAY?

Since joining in May 2023, each shift has brought something different, making it truly engaging. I had my first arrest in one of my early shifts, which had to be done legally and safely, but thanks to the support from other officers it helped me gain the confidence to do it again.

Addressing situations like a death can be challenging, but as a Special Constable, you become a source of comfort in somebody’s time of need. One such incident involved an elderly gentleman who had been unwell for a while. Spending time with his wife, hearing about their long and happy life together, and comforting her during the necessary procedures left me with a sense of fulfilment.

 

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THROUGH THIS ROLE?

Being a Special Constable has given me loads of confidence. I’ve learned how to approach, observe, assess, and deal with situations appropriately. This newfound confidence has spilt over into my personal life and my other role as well.

 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THIS ROLE?

The teamwork is what I cherish the most. My day-to-day job as a Dental Therapist can be isolating, so volunteering as a Special Constable, working alongside like-minded individuals, and regular police constables is incredibly fulfilling.

This role is special to me, as my mother was also a Special Constable with Northumbria Police. The role has evolved significantly, and you’re no longer just directing traffic – you’re fully immersed in the action.

 

HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR NEW ROLE WITH YOUR EXISTING JOB?

I’m fortunate to work part-time as a Dental Therapist, allowing me to attend most of the required training as a Special Constable.

Occasionally, my shift pattern clashes, making volunteering challenging for a few weeks, but TeamNP is supportive in working around commitments. Having the flexibility to change shifts based on availability keeps me eagerly anticipating my next shift.

Northumbria Police

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES HAVE YOU GAINED THROUGH THIS ROLE?

Being a Special Constable has opened doors to various experiences. Opportunities for police driver training, taser training and becoming a Qualified Special Constable are all on the table.

Special Constables also get the opportunity to support the policing of the region’s biggest events such as the Great North Run alongside colleagues from other departments.

 

Northumbria Police

WHY SHOULD OUR READERS APPLY TO BE A SPECIAL CONSTABLE?

If you have spare time and crave something different, this role is for you. It’s a unique opportunity to be in the passenger seat during a police car chase or be one of the first through the door during a raid.

Volunteering as a Special Constable is an escape from the 9-5 routine. It’s a chance to grow personally, boost confidence and navigate situations you wouldn’t encounter otherwise.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANYONE INTERESTED IN THIS ROLE?

Just do it! Join one of the information events hosted by Northumbria Police for valuable interview tips and application support. Learn about the recruitment process, eligibility and training requirements while meeting Special Constables who’ll share their experiences.

Do your research and follow Northumbria Police on social media to get a better understanding of the role, incidents you might be involved in and the activities you’ll benefit from. It’s about getting to know the #TeamNP policing family.

Check out Northumbria Police’s website to learn more about the application process or sign up for an information event today.

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