22 May 2023
On the 27 of April the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) held its second Special Constabulary webinar.
The event was hosted by Special Chief Inspector Laura Hart from Merseyside Police, joining her was PFEW National Chair Steve Hartshorn and guest speakers Dave Brewster, Operation Hampshire Coordinator at the National Police Wellbeing Service, and PC Richard Goold, a serving officer with the Metropolitan Police and former magistrate.
The webinar was the second of a series aiming to connect with special constables across England and Wales, providing them with information about the range of benefits and support they are entitled to as members of the PFEW and highlighting the parity between themselves and regular police officers.
PFEW National Chair Steve Hartshorn began proceedings introducing the guest speakers, sharing his experiences as a special constable and the importance of Operation Hampshire.
"Thank you for everything you do as a special constabulary officer in serving, helping and protecting the public, he said.
"No one has the right to assault you when you are on duty or in the execution of your duty, especially when protecting other people.”
After Steve Hartshorn’s introduction, Dave Brewster gave an in-depth presentation on Operation Hampshire, a project that works to provide strategy, processes and guidance to help police forces respond more effectively to assaults on police officers and staff.
Mr Brewster said: "The men and women that do this job are awesome, it is a job like no other. You stand as the thin blue line between the vulnerable and the aggressor, even more so that applies to our special constable colleagues who do it on a voluntary basis.
“You, the job you do and the men and women who join you absolutely have the right to the best levels of victim care, wellbeing support and justice that we can provide you. That is what Operation Hampshire aims to achieve.”
Dave also discussed the impact that assaults have on mental and physical health of officers - and the work Operation Hampshire is doing to change the culture around assaults on police staff.
He said: "It’s a culture that spans the entire justice system but it can only change if we drive that change as police officers."
When sharing some key statistics on police assaults, he continued: "We are very good at dealing with ‘assaults with injury’, we generally do a great job when one of our colleagues gets seriously hurt. But we can’t overlook the fact that the vast majority of these incidents are considered low level…. There are 113 assaults on you and your colleagues every day, I think that is still under reported.
"Don’t underestimate your role in this, you are the key to making this successful… If you are assaulted you must report it, you have rights as a victim and you should be able to exercise them.”
PC Richard Goold, a serving police officer with the Metropolitan Police and former magistrate shared his experiences and perspectives on the reporting of assaults on police officers.
"Over the last 12 months when I was serving as a magistrate only 34% of cases were presented with bodyworn video, something doesn’t seem right there.” he said.
“If we rationalise this stuff away, we are never going to be able to protect the thin blue line or make sure that those who do assault emergency workers are brought to justice and held to account of the law.”
Special Chief Inspector Laura Hart closed the webinar and thanked all participants, a sentiment echoed by National Chair Steve Hartshorn.
Our next webinar will be held on the 25th May, with guest panel speakers from Oscar Kilo and the National Police Wellbeing Service.
Register here for our future events.