Harriet is a trainee accountant by day and volunteers as a Special Constable in the Hambleton area. You might recognise her as the face of our 2016 recruitment campaign.
Harriet started her training in September 2014 and was attested (which is when the officers are sworn in and given their warrant cards) in April 2015.
We asked her a few questions about being a Special Constable…
Why did you join the specials?
I wanted to be a special so that I could take an active role in my local community.
What do you get out of it?
It really builds your confidence, you are in situations that can be high pressure and/or high emotion and the public look to you to deal with it. It’s a great feeling when you can look back at a situation and feel that you did a good job, or helped resolve an issue.
The other thing is the great comradery that specials get from the regular (paid) officers. We are viewed as being part of the team and are made to feel welcome. After a couple of shifts, you get to know the officers really well and they are keen to help you complete the rest of your training.
National Service of Remembrance in 2016
Harriet also had the honour of representing seven police forces at the National Service of Remembrance in 2016
She was chosen as part of a group of five North Yorkshire Police officers to represent the seven forces of the North East region at the service in Whitehall. The opportunity comes around just once every seven years.
Quite possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Harriet describes a day of pride and emotion…
When I saw the request for expressions of interest, I knew this was an opportunity I did not want to miss! I wrote my ideas based on the fact that a substantial number of men and women volunteered during the World Wars and as a Special Constable, I thought this would be a good opportunity to represent and ‘fly the flag’ for volunteering today, in policing.
Despite this, I did not expect to be chosen, as I knew a lot of other colleagues would express interest and I felt incredibly proud, overwhelmed, and frankly, very nervous about actually being there on the day.
We had a two-hour briefing on Saturday night which explained the order of the day and gave us the opportunity to mix with colleagues from other forces and services including Fire and Rescue, HM Prison Service, Ambulance and St John Ambulance and the British Red Cross: together, we made up the Civilian Services Contingent. Then it was an early night for us all as our alarms were set for 4.30am.
It was really exciting to get our tunics on, as we don’t get the opportunity to wear them so often, and all of the personnel looked really smart. We went down to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to practise marching for two hours – it was an experience in itself being shouted order by a drill sergeant! We were then inspected before the parade by the Rt Hon Secretary of state for Justice and Lord Chancellor, Liz Truss, who spoke about the importance of emergency and public services and gave us permission to march.
We lined up outside the Foreign Office and marched down Whitehall towards the Cenotaph to the music of the bands. We were positioned opposite the military bands and near to the big TV cameras, so we were right in the mix of everything! There were lots of members of the public out too, watching, clapping and cheering.
The atmosphere was so powerful – you could have heard a pin drop during the two minutes silence which was then broken by gun fire and then playing of the Last Post. For me, that was very emotional as it is such a poignant piece of music and to stand there listening to it live, as part of the parade, in uniform, really was very special.
The Lord Bishop of London read prayers and the wreaths were laid by members of the
Royal Family, Government and armed forces. Then all of the parade and the public sang the national anthem – another very special moment, it was great to be able to show such patriotism.
After that, the parade really started with all of the veterans, wives, families, charities and forces marching past. It was seeing those veterans, young and old, that really made me proud to be there – we were thanking them for their service to our country.
We were the last to march off, marching around the Cenotaph and then back to the Foreign Office, again to the applause of those watching. We were then dismissed and able to have our photos taken outside Number 10 Downing Street.
It really was an incredible experience and something that I will remember forever. I am still very honoured to have been chosen and overwhelmed by the day. I am so proud to have been part of the contingent this year, on behalf of North Yorkshire Police and the North East area. The feedback we have had so far has been lovely, and I just hope that we did all of our colleagues proud.
Harriet was joined by regular colleagues PCs Caroline Pugh, Tim Craven and Graham Wilson, and Inspector Dave Edwards.