Suffolk special constables clock up 60 years between them

Special Constables Dean Knight and Matt Bennington have both been volunteering with Suffolk Constabulary for 30 years

Special Constables Dean Knight and Matt Bennington have both been volunteering with Suffolk Constabulary for 30 years - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

Special Constables Dean Knight and Matt Bennington have each clocked up three decades of service in the force, and have a substantial number of stories to tell about it.

Chief Officer Dean Knight said he became a special to help his Suffolk community be a safe place to live

Chief Officer Dean Knight said he became a special to help his community be a safe place to live - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

From changes in uniforms to the role specials play in the community, the officers have supported thousands of people throughout Suffolk.

Chief Officer Dean Knight passed his probationary period in Brandon in 1993 after an advert for the role inspired him to help his community be a safe place to live.

Specials are volunteer police officers who give up their free time to conduct police duties. They have the same powers, uniforms and equipment as regular officers, but do not get paid, and are only reimbursed for expenses. 

Chief officer Dean Knight said: "I felt a calling towards the role which has remained 30 years later, thanks to the people I have met over the years, both here in Suffolk Constabulary but also members of the public.

"I have laughed, cried, learned new skills, had some great experiences and I still have the passion to make a difference, however small. 

"I have some wonderful memories that I still look back on with fondness and I feel honoured and proud that I am still here. I did say I would continue in the role until I fell out of love with it, and I have never lost that feeling.

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"I just hope I have, and am still, making a small difference to my community, whether it is working with victims of assault or other crimes or just being a shoulder to cry on.”

The trousers, tunic and flat cap have been swapped for helmets, rain coats, body armour, batons, cuffs and personal issue radios. 

Chief officer Knight said: "The training and equipment are professional and comprehensive now, with a great team behind us, but the people have remained the same.

"The support for Specials has never diminished over the years; if anything, it has grown each and every year."

Matt Bennington says that being a special constable in Suffolk helped improve his confidence

Special Constable Matt Bennington says that being a special constable helped improve his confidence and let him meet a whole new group of friends - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

His colleague Matt Bennington never thought he'd made a good police officer or past a decade in the role as he marks 30 years as a special constable. 

He said:  “I was shy and didn’t think I was fit enough … not ideal police officer material.

"But a friend told me about the Specials and I thought I could try it out and see how I got on.

"At the same time, I started a new second-choice career as a farmer and have enjoyed both roles ever since."

He found himself developing relationships with regular and special constable colleagues, but it is meeting the public that has been his favourite part.

The officer said: "To be honest, I didn’t think I would last 10 years but as new challenges presented themselves, with changes in law, staff numbers and promotion, I continued to enjoy and assist where I could.

“I think my favourite part of being a Special has been meeting and greeting the public, either during rural foot patrols or at events, just chatting to people and reassuring them.

"I still remember helping to disperse a large crowd in the west Suffolk village of Felsham who were looking for a (banned) house party. Four burly coppers in a Ford Fiesta (no van available) and then a drive through the village with a megaphone and a large Alsatian barking at full pelt from the front seat.

"Several hundred people soon left to go back to the metropolises of Bury, Ipswich and Stowmarket.

“Being a Special has improved my confidence. I’m still shy but work through it when required. But the biggest impact is all the friends I have made along the way.”

Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Tim Passmore was elected police and crime commissioner for Suffolk in November 2012 and has kept the position since - Credit: Archant

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “The contribution made to policing by the Special Constabulary in Suffolk is absolutely remarkable.

"Volunteers play a tremendously important part in our policing family and we are indebted to each and every one of them.

“The unstinting commitment and enthusiasm of Dean and Matt for over 30 years is extraordinary, they are exceptional individuals who have really made a difference. 

"Well done and a huge thank you to both of them for reaching this significant milestone."

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