Appeal to join Alex in his special police role
Leicestershire Police is hoping Mercury readers will help swell the ranks of the Special Constabulary – the volunteers who give their time freely to help the fight against crime.
The force, which has lost millions of pounds from its budget over the past few years because of public spending cuts, has 286 specials on its books.
It hopes to increase that to 400 between now and April 2017.
Special constables have all the powers of regular officers, wear the same uniform and carry the same equipment.
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However, they combine their unpaid roles as police officers with family life, full-time jobs or studies.
The force, which introduced a recruitment freeze in late 2009, hopes the extra volunteers will help it cope with the loss of full-time officers due to retirement, ill-health or transfers to other forces.
Recruits will join the likes of Alex Moore, who has been a special constable for the past three-and-a-half years and has just been promoted to the rank of sergeant.
As well as being a special, the Burbage 26-year-old runs his own courier firm, ATM Ltd.
Alex, who started at Hinckley police station and now works at Coalville, said: "It can be a bit of a squeeze at times, but it's worth it because you are doing something good for your community.
"I don't think people realise how many specials there are and exactly what we do.
"I would definitely recommend it. We are involved in all areas of policing and you go home from a shift with a real satisfaction that you have done something good."
Leicestershire Chief Constable Simon Cole said: "Almost 75,000 hours of patrol were given by special constables last year.
"Looking back over 2012, specials were part of the significant operational challenges we faced during the year.
"They served alongside regular officers to help secure Team GB at Loughborough University, and contributed to policing activity which has delivered the lowest crime rate in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland in over 20 years.
"Becoming a special is an excellent opportunity for people to gain leadership skills and ultimately become a regular officer."
A number of Leicestershire officers began their careers as specials, including Chief Inspector Martyn Ball, who is now one of the most senior officers in the city.
He previously told the Mercury: "My dad was a police officer in Leicestershire for 30 years and my grandfather was in the Royal Military Police.
"All I ever wanted to be was a police officer. I became a special constable when I was at university in Leicester.
"It gave another dimension to being a student and it gave me a head start in my career."
The force holds regular events where people can find out more about becoming a Special. One was due to take place at the Islamic Centre in Conduit Street, Highfields, Leicester today, at 6.30pm.
Call the force's recruitment team on 101, extension 2657, during normal office hours.