31 March 2023
Last night the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) held its first Special Constabulary webinar.
The event was hosted by Special Chief Inspector Laura Hart from Merseyside Police and joining her were guest speakers Deputy Chief Constable Richard Debicki from North Wales, Nicky Ryan, PFEW specials lead, and Dr. Ashley Frayling from the Association of Special Constabulary Officers (ASCO).
The webinar is one of a series which aims to connect with special constables around England and Wales, providing them with information about the range of benefits and support they are entitled to and highlighting the parity between themselves and regular police officers.
DCC Richard Debicki provided a pre-recorded video, welcoming everyone to the webinar and paying special thanks to the continued support that every serving special constable has offered to regular policing.
"I'm privileged to have held the position of national police lead for the Special Constabulary for many years," she said.
"I'm incredibly proud of our 8000 special constables' work nationally, keeping their communities safe on a daily basis. And, of course, you all do this entirely voluntarily."
Following DCC Richard Debicki, Nicky Ryan went through the benefits and support that PFEW membership could offer.
"When it was agreed that membership would be open to specials, the motion decided that PFEW would offer parity of membership on core business areas," explained Nicky. "So, you, as volunteers, will get the same service and funding within our funding rules and criteria as a paid regular officer will get. There will be no difference, given you take on the same challenges and risks."
Nicky Ryan also touched on the critical business areas PFEW represents, such as equality and sickness, and described how the membership could support those who may find themselves involved in post-incident procedures.
"We are here to offer welfare support to all officers and specials and we work to ensure that the best outcome is achieved for you under the circumstances."
When talking about support offered when post incident procedures are initiated, she continued: "It is really important that during the time of an incident, when you’ve likely witnessed trauma, we help to collate the evidence for you. That evidence is written down, and it stands up to cross-examination and scrutiny later.
"We involve solicitors who understand police regulations where appropriate to make sure you receive the right information and advice. It is a necessary and transparent process to support everyone working in such a challenging and risky environment."
Other topics presented on covered funding, negotiating, the PFEW Welfare Support Program, and support from stakeholders such as Police UK, College of Policing, and the National Police Wellbeing Service.
Next to take the seat was Dr. Ashley Frayling, who provided more detail about ASCO, which currently has more than 1,000 members as the voice of special constables, including those in Scotland.
"We're here to help make sure that special constables are being heard regarding issues that affect us as well as helping and supporting our colleagues," she said.
“We work alongside the PFEW to ensure specials get the best support possible. We are predominantly a signposting association and will ensure you get the best welfare, wellbeing, and support.
"We also step in around times of change, for example, when forces suddenly say they want to review rank structures or things like that within the special constabulary. We've helped officers around that as well.”
Tiff Lynch, PFEW deputy chair, closed the webinar saying: "It is fantastic to see the number of people in this, our first webinar of the series. I'm looking forward to the next ones and will be logging in. Thank you to all of you, for your contribution and service over the years."
Our next webinar will be held on the 27 April, with guest panel speakers from Oscar Kilo and the National Police Wellbeing Service.
Register here for our future events.