Part-time special constables haven’t been in such demand for decades. What makes a lawyer, priest or fast-food worker sign up to fight crime for free?
On a warm Saturday night in September last year, a man calls 999 to report that somebody has hit him in the face with a glass bottle outside a pub in west London. Special inspector Anthony Kay speeds to the scene in a police van, sirens blaring. As he and several other officers arrive at the pub, the injured man begins swearing at them, threatening to throw his alleged attacker into a nearby canal.
To most observers, the team of six constables in attendance would look completely ordinary, with batons, handcuffs and incapacitant spray attached to their belts. But, despite having the same uniform and powers as regular police, none of them are employed as officers. Kay, 40, is a full-time computer programmer working for a City law firm; Jamie is a recent university graduate; Silvia is a cost analyst; and Tusalan an airport security manager. The team of volunteers also includes a makeup artist and a construction worker who don’t want to be named.