Special Constable Matthew Haywood and his employer Transport for London are enjoying the many benefits of the Employer Supported Policing scheme (ESP).
In 2020, father-of-two Matthew took on the admirable challenge of becoming a Special Constable whilst juggling family life and his full-on job as a Tube driver.
As volunteer police officers, Special Constables give up a minimum of 16 hours a month to keeping the public safe. They have full policing powers – including the power to arrest – and they play a vital role in preventing, reducing and tackling crime.
When Matthew heard about ESP – which gives Special Constables time off work to volunteer – he approached the constabulary and Transport for London to see if they could join. Before long, both Matthew and TfL were benefiting from the skills he was acquiring as a Special.
Matthew, who is based in Hemel Hempstead, says: “I’d wanted to be a Special for a long time as I grew up around police officers and always respected their work. I couldn’t think of another opportunity where I could have such a positive impact on people’s lives, making a difference in their time of need. Being a Special provides me with a whole new skill set which I can use to further my full-time career and to help in my personal life. I believe it also allows me to be a positive role model for my children and others in society. I decided to use the ESP scheme as it allows me to dedicate even more time to policing.”
ESP is flexible and the constabulary works with the individual business to choose the level of involvement. Some businesses offer unpaid leave for the employee/Special Constable whilst others, such as TfL, offer paid leave.
Businesses registered to the scheme find that there is an increased sense of morale within their organisation and the huge variety of transferable skills acquired as a Special - such as resilience, customer focus and communication - are applied back in the day job.
Peter Johns, Trains Manager at High Barnet Depot on the Northern line, said: “It’s great to see Matthew making such a valuable contribution as a Special Constable. The skills he is learning while supporting the local community is a great way add to his abilities and help him learn new ways to handle potentially difficult situations in his day-to-day role as a Train Operator. Matt continues to contribute positively to High Barnet depot as a valued member of our team”.
Matthew adds: “Although being a Tube driver and a Special are very different, they are both highly pressured roles with lots of responsibility. There’s no doubt that the skills I’ve developed as a Special have helped me in my day job. Likewise, the skills I’ve developed as a Tube driver have also helped me in policing.”
To those looking for a way to give back to the community, Matthew recommends joining the Special Constabulary. And for those concerned about fitting it in with their day job, he’s confident that ESP is the answer!
“Being a special is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, protecting the vulnerable and helping those in need never gets old,” says Matthew. “Every day is different and throws new challenges your way.
“If you’re interested in joining, speak to your employer and speak to the Herts Police recruitment team. If your company isn’t already supporting ESP, Herts can help them develop a way to support you in your volunteering role. Being a Special is mutually beneficial for your employer as it allows you to develop a lot of cross transferable skills to use in your full-time career.
“Once you join, you won’t look back! I’d done volunteering before, as a school governor and a Scout Leader. Both were really rewarding but being a Special is simply incomparable.”