Meet the student police officers helping to keep communities safe
Five Birmingham students are taking a sabbatical from their studies to work as Special Police Constables in their own neighbourhoods of Selly Oak and Edgbaston.
Starting their roles as part of the Blue Line scheme in October 2018, they are warranted officers with powers of arrest. While it is a voluntary role, they have received a bursary from the University to cover their costs for the year.
In post until summer 2019, the officers are additional to existing police officers, and work alongside neighbourhood police teams in Edgbaston and Selly Oak, boosting security in the area while giving the students invaluable experience.
Special Constable Elliw Dafydd, who studies History and Politics, is enjoying the role, saying: “Blue Line is a great opportunity to see if I would like a career in policing. Every day is different and I get to interact with a lot of people. I see us as very much part of the local community; we provide crime prevention advice, and work with students to encourage them to report incidents to the police.”
Philosophy student SC Carys Butlin said: “We proactively target crime in our area. No two days are the same in this role; yesterday I went to a property to serve an arrest warrant in relation to a vehicle crime but on other days we patrol the neighbourhood and speak to people about their concerns.”
Each of the Blue Line officers is coached by a local PC. Elliw’s coach, PC Thomson, said: “I think the scheme has real value, as students are more likely to trust someone from their peer group.”
Campus police officer PC Richards said: “The Blue Line officers are loving the challenge, and although it’s not an easy transition to make, they seem to be handling it really well.”
University of Birmingham Director of Student Affairs Jon Elsmore said: “We have always had a close relationship with West Midlands Police, and this is the logical next step. The University is part of both Edgbaston and Selly Oak and we have a responsibility to contribute to our local communities. The Blue Line scheme allows us to give a group of students an opportunity to gain skills and experience the realities of policing, while contributing to the safety and security of their own neighbourhoods.”
The Special Constables have been trained and are skilled to handle anything that a police officer would, including and not limited to patrols, warrants, arrests, disorder, crimes, victim support and more. They receive the same support as any officer, with access through West Midlands Police to wellbeing services, occupational health, supervisor support, mentoring, the Police Federation, and all the relevant clubs and associations.