National recognition for ESP scheme

Suffolk Special Constabulary co-ordinator Mick Mann has gained national recognition for his efforts to encourage local businesses to support policing in the county.

Mick recently collected a ‘Highly Commended’ award at the Special Constable and Support Volunteer Awards 2012 for his work to expand Suffolk’s Employer Supported Policing (ESP) scheme.

The scheme aims to encourage businesses to allow employees who also work as volunteer special constables in their spare time a degree of flexibility and to actively promote volunteering to the rest of their workforce.

Through the scheme a number of companies and organisations across Suffolk now work with police in a successful partnership that also sees the company get the benefit of staff with additional skills.

A number of the 300+ volunteer Special Constables who work in the county already work for organisations that are part of the scheme and this has benefits for police, the company or organisation and individuals concerned, and communities across Suffolk.

At the most basic level employers allow the Constabulary to promote recruitment while at the other end of the scale they permit Special Constable trained employees to be released in the event of an emergency or to take several hours each month to fulfil their policing duties.

For example Suffolk’s top Special, Chief Officer Paul Goldsmith, is a full-time employee of Waveney District Council but they regularly allow him to be flexible with his work so he can also fulfil his senior management role with the Constabulary.

Paul himself benefits from the skills he has learnt as he has worked his way through the ranks to the Special Chief Officer position, while Waveney District Council benefits from the experience and training he has gathered on the way.

They have a member of staff who is highly skilled in dealing with people, crisis management and organisational issues and many of these skills are transferable and applicable to his day job.

Around the county other employers also support the Special Constabulary by ensuring employees who are Specials can be flexible in their working arrangements in return for the benefits it brings.

Among those already signed up are Mothercare, Sainsbury’s, Network Rail, Suffolk Coastal District Council, Axa and Willis in Ipswich, BT at Martlesham Heath, HM Prison Service, the Forestry Commission at Santon Downham, the MOD at Mildenhall and DHL who release Special Constabulary Assistant Chief Officer Dean Knight.

The partnership between police, business and organisations has benefits for employers, including staff who are trained in leadership, decision making, effective communication and problem solving, benefits for the individuals themselves, providing new skills for career progression, and for communities across Suffolk through Special Constables helping make neighbourhoods safer.

Mick, a retired police officer who now works as a member of support staff co-ordinating the Special Constabulary in Suffolk, realised that a new strategy was required to build the Employer Support Policing process and took personal responsibility for increasing the number of special constables in the county.

He created a dedicated team to promote ESP to employers and identified that Special Constables themselves should be a main part of the team.

He then worked with these volunteers to meet with both local and national businesses, attend careers fair and to find other opportunities to raise awareness of the scheme in the business community.

He also -

* Encouraged companies to develop posters and internal literature for display on notice boards or electronic dissemination, to assist with recruitment;

* Spoke to existing Specials, whose employers were not registered with ESP, to ask if the force could contact their manager and inform them of the ESP programme;

* Worked to implement a new ESP recording module for duty management allowing the Constabulary to provide a reporting platform to monitor performance and provide feedback.

Mick also chairs a regional group set up five years ago to encourage the development of ESP schemes not only in Suffolk but across Norfolk, Cambridgeshire., Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

His tireless work promoting ESP has increased the number of special constables that the force has been able to retain and has assisted in providing an increased service to the residents of Suffolk.

Mick says the award wouldn’t have been possible without those working with him.

“As with most things, this was really a team effort and I’m grateful to those who have supported and worked with me on this.

“It is great to get some recognition for the scheme and I’d invite any business representatives interested in finding out more to get in touch.”

The award was presented to Mick at the national ceremony held in the Great Hall at Westminster last month. Greater Manchester Police won the award, with Suffolk highly commended.

If you would like to know more about employer supported policing and how you can get your organisation involved whether you’re an employer or an employee, please call Mick Mann on 01473 613638 or email

* Suffolk was also part of a regional award win, with the Eastern Region Special Constabulary Mutual Aid team picking up the Ferrers’ Team award at the ceremony.

In full-time policing Mutual Aid sees Constabularies across the country providing resources when needed in times of crisis or significant need – for example for large scale local emergencies or major investigations.

It was decided that a priority for 2011/12 would be to improve the interoperability of the Special Constabulary throughout the six forces in the region in a similar way.

Several pilot events have been held with one to target burglary in Bedfordshire deploying around 80 special constables drawn from all six forces in the region.

Some 500 houses were visited with crime reduction information and six vehicles seized for burglary related offences.

The region has now put in place proper arrangements for the organising, planning and deployment of specials for Mutual Aid and the initiative has generated cost savings amounting to £223,912 for the region during the current financial year.

Special Inspector Chris Chilvers represented Suffolk as he has responsibility for pulling together all arrangements when the county provides mutual aid to other forces.

For all the latest news see Thursday’s (December 6) Echo.