Meet Alicia Loxley, the constabulary’s Employer Supported Policing (ESP) Lead….
ESP is a powerful and innovative way for employers and the police service to work proactively together for the benefit of the local community. Do you own a business? Would you like to give back to the community? Then carry on reading as Alicia explains everything you need to know about how this scheme could help you!
What is ESP?
ESP is where a business supports Special Constables or Police Support Volunteers to carry out their duties, during their normal working hours. It’s a national scheme, which is fully funded by the Home Office and local police service.
People often don’t realise that Special Constables are fully warranted police officers, with full police powers. They don’t get paid for what they do, they are volunteers who commit to a minimum of 16 hours per month and the age range is 18 to 72 years old.
They usually serve in evenings and weekends after their day job, so if their employer allows them a little extra paid time, it can make a big difference to their work-life balance by providing a bit of flexibility around the time they can do their duties. This reflects well on the way a business treats its employees.
Hertfordshire Constabulary has over 170 registered special constables.
Special Constables work on their own and alongside regular police officers, typical duties include first response - assisting at the scene of an accident/incident, attending events to assist with public control, managing conflict and preventative patrols in the community.
How does the scheme work?
It’s very straightforward; a business registers on the scheme and they decide how much paid/unpaid time off they want to give their employees who already are, or who wish to become, Special Constables or Police Support Volunteers. They are in the driving seat and the amount of time given can vary from five days a year to one day per month, some organisations offer more. There is no extra cost or contractual agreement for the business and no extra administrative responsibility for the employer, it’s all done by the employee.
What are the benefits for employers?
My message to employers is that supporting employees who volunteer as Special Constables can help them empower staff, making them feel valued and supported.
The employer and their staff benefit from police training and experience - equipping them both with transferable skills which can be used in the workplace. These include staff development, support and wellbeing, which assists improved recruitment and retention. It makes a strong statement about employee support.
Not everyone qualifies as a Special Constable, the skills and commitment required are of a high standard, so it’s a real achievement to make the grade, but those that do are a real asset to their employer who gains from the excellent training given to candidates by their local constabulary. This free staff development boosts employee confidence, capability and resilience as they learn problem solving, decision making, dealing with difficult situations, improved communication and listening, together with many other skills that will not only enable them to do their duty serving as a police officer, but will also hugely benefit them back in their day job.
Participating businesses show that they value their employees and are giving something back to the communities they operate in. They are supported by national and local ESP Teams with external communication and internal promotion tools, one of which is an Employer Supported Policing logo for use on their website and other communications to show they are engaging in the scheme – a sort of badge of honour!
The scheme also provides the opportunity to expand an organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) policies. So, for example, if they are tendering for work and need to talk about these measures, they can refer to their participation in the ESP scheme.
Companies already supporting the scheme on a national and local basis include Tesco, McMullen, Barclays and several district and borough Councils.
Not everyone is cut out to become a Special Constable, but they may still have valuable skills and want to volunteer to help in the community where they live. This is where Police Support Volunteers come in, they perform a wide range of supporting tasks and functions by building a valuable wider pool of resources, enabling police officers and staff to focus on their core duties. Employers can also incorporate this into their volunteering policy.
What is the benefit for the Special Constable?
The personal and professional training given to Special Constables improves their life skills. Development of decision making, leadership and resilience builds their knowledge and confidence, helping them in both their work and personal life.
Examples of this include improved chances of promotion into leadership roles, the ability to remain calm under pressure or in a crisis, improved communication skills, better decision making, problem solving and time management.
They provide a valuable role in the community, helping to improve public safety by reducing and tackling crime, this can bring a lot of satisfaction and real purpose to what they do.
How can individuals and businesses get involved?
A host of information about becoming a Special Constable and Employer Supported Policing is available at www.hertspolicespecials.co.uk.(Opens in a new window) This includes a quick form to register your interest as an employer. Once you complete the form, someone from our ESP Team will respond and will be able to continue the conversation and answer any questions you may have.
I would encourage employers and individuals to find out more about how you can make a real difference in the communities of Hertfordshire and work together to keep people safe!