17 August 2016
Danielle McNally blogs about volunteering as a part-time Special Constable alongside studying for her Criminology degree.

I am a Criminology student about to embark on the most important academic year of my life, whilst balancing my social life, academic studies, and my extra-curricular activities alongside maintaining my ultimate goal of becoming a police officer through my volunteer role as a Special Constable (SC). Without a doubt there are often many challenges, but as a 20-year-old student taking on the voluntary role of a PC I think I am doing pretty well so far in the world of adult-ing!

Your three years as a Criminology student are invaluable - especially at a top ten university. Lancaster was always my first choice university from finishing my GCSE’s. It has everything a prospective student could wish for and more. However, whilst I knew the university I wanted to study at, throughout my two years as an A-level student I questioned what degree I would excel in. I’d always had the idea in my head of being a Police Officer from a young age, but I never seriously considered it until I heard about the Special Constabulary. It was then that I decided that a Criminology degree would fit the bill; I was a good writer and great at arguing my points in academic writing. I also had a fascination in the world of criminality and law enforcement.

Having completed my first year as a Criminology undergraduate student, I successfully secured a place in the Special Constabulary. I had to pass entry exams, fitness tests and medical examinations. In my role as a Special Constable, I volunteer a minimum of 16 hours per month in which I support regular Police Officer colleagues. I have the same powers, including stop and search and arrest, as a regular officer and I am also able to drive police vehicles. In practice, the public do not really know the difference between regulars and specials which is one of the beauties of the job. But it can also be very challenging, especially when you are expected to switch from your student head to your professional police officer one!

In the seven months that I have been a Special I have gained in personal, work, and professional experience, which has proved invaluable in all aspects of my life. Not only that, but the job is an incredibly rewarding one, knowing that I am genuinely making a difference to someone’s life when I assist my regular colleagues, whether it be in neighbourhood policing or on immediate response.

Having volunteered as a Special Constable and studied Criminology at a top 10 university, I feel that when I leave university and enter the world of work I will have an advantage over fellow graduates. Dealing with the public is a special skill which I have been able to improve immensely. For me personally, my confidence has rocketed in believing I can make a difference and am able to communicate with people from all walks of life.

If you are considering completing a Criminology degree and/or joining the Special Constabulary, I wouldn’t think twice about it!