I am Olivia Johnston and I am Special Constable within Lancashire Constabulary’s West Division based at Blackpool North Police Station at Bispham.
In April 2013, I became a fully-fledged Special Constable and since then I have worked over 1005 hours and completed 131 duties alongside my Special Constabulary and regular colleagues.
A total of 15 of these have included operations and events organised by the Specials varying from Remembrance Sundays’, local galas, Blackpool Gay Pride, the World Firework Championships and the Illuminations Switch On.
These past two years have been fraught with experience, challenge, excitement and some of the most rewarding and definitely character building times of my life.
One of my most rewarding shifts as a Special was last year, on Friday 19th September 2014, when I was on patrol during the third instalment of the World Firework Championships at Blackpool.
As a major event in Blackpool and with an historic reputation for being very well attended with upward of 20,000 people attending, myself and both my special and regular colleagues were deployed on a standard reassurance operation in the town centre.
Later on in the evening it became very clear that a large number of young people were intent on behaving in an anti-social manner and by about 9pm huge disorder had broken out and we were significantly outnumbered by hostile crowds of over 200 people.
We were supported by dog patrols, support units and armed response and it was an ideal opportunity for me to put my public order training into place. However, it soon became even more serious when one of our PCSOs was hit by a missile. I must mention that this missile was a can of diet coke but none the less it was used as a missile, which hit him in the head and he was on the floor amongst these hostile crowds. He pressed his emergency button on his radio and I, along with every other officer on duty in the Blackpool area, was alerted to the fact that he was in trouble.
Fortunately on this occasion he was not injured and no other officers were hurt. Now I have no intention of giving you a Clarke Kent/ Superman illusion of me but that is how I best describe being a good Special. In that scenario I was not Olivia Johnston, a HR Assistant from St. Michaels on Wyre but Special Constable 9938, dealing with a large public order situation which some regular PCs compared to the sort of hostility shown toward them at other major events such as football matches and the G20 summit.
I have never had an opportunity to make more friends, work harder, build relationships with a team, or challenge myself more than whilst working as a Special and I encourage anyone who has a passion to give back to their community, to seriously consider joining me and my colleagues.
And for those of you that do, I hope you all take from it what I have, and enjoy one of the best experiences of your life, and I look forward to working with some of you in the future.