26th May, 2020

Keeping up with the beat

Malvern Editorial 26th Aug, 2015 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

HISTORIC buildings, famous beauty spots and eye-catching landscapes have long made up Malvern’s ‘image’, but underlying the attractions, the issue of crime is still rife.

So with an added drive for Special Constables in the area, Observer chief reporter Jonny Bonell went on the beat with the town’s police to gain some first hand experience.

“I was tired of seeing people get away with things, whether it was people heading down to the retail park making noise or coming out the pub and midnight and smashing glasses.

“I thought, ‘I live round here, I can either stand back or I can try and do something to help out.”

That was the opinion of Chris Francis, who has been a Special Constable in Malvern for eight years and who showed me the hard work and dedication it takes to fulfil the role, during a police ride-along on Friday night, August 14.

Special Constable Francis started back in August 2007 and couples the volunteer role with his full-time sales manager job – which sees him work in Malvern, London and Italy.

The 39-year-old was also rewarded for his efforts when he saved the life of a man bleeding heavily and was handed The Superintendent’s Commendation in 2011.

A Special Constable is a volunteer officer who completes a minimum of 16 hours of work – normally one evening weekend shift and one midweek shift – a month.

But with numbers dwindling in Malvern, police have urged town residents to come forward to aid the area.

“If you have pride in your community and pride in where you live then you want the best for that area,” Special Constable Francis added.

“For me, I don’t want to hear cars screeching outside my front door, I don’t want to hear kids shouting in the middle of the night and I want my children to feel safe so the more people join the better.

“When I joined eight years ago there was an increase in anti-social behaviour I saw directly while out at night with my friends.

“This tarnished the reputation of the town I had come to love. I had the choice to either continuously moan about how these things had developed or try to help do something about it.”

While out with Special Constable Francis and PC Dave Wise, I was shown everything from speed monitoring on Summerfield Road, anti-social behaviour on Elgar Avenue, a suspected drink driver and how to deal with a young woman who had driven away from home and threatened to not come back.

It was not all blue lights and car chases, with the switchboard back at the Victoria Road station being monitored at any available opportunity in order to keep on top of their night’s work.

And Special Constable Francis, who has lived in Malvern all his life, said the work would teach people far more than your stereotypical police training.

“In my eight years I have learned compassion, I have improved my self confidence and have gained a sense of achievement,” he said.

“These have stood me in good stead in my personal life but also my professional life, many techniques for successful communication with clients in my professional life were developed by West Mercia Police and practiced on duty in the Special Constabulary.

“If you take pride in being involved in community projects, want to improve your social skills, want to gain more self-confidence, meet new people and make new friends, I would definitely recommend enrolling.”

To join the Specials, residents can download an application form from www.westmercia.police.uk and email to to specials@warwickshireandwestmercia.pnn.police.uk or call 01905 331433.


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