TWO special constables were honoured this week as they retired from the Shetland police force.
Fifty seven year old Peter Smith, who has been a “special” for the past three and a half decades, received a glowing tribute from north of Scotland assistant chief constable Derek Robertson at Lerwick police station on Wednesday.
Barry Derbyshire, 59, was presented with a long service medal after joining the special constabulary in 2004.
Robertson paid tribute to the “quite outstanding” service given by the pair to the police service and the local community.
The assistant chief constable added that he had the “utmost respect” for the two men, who combined the voluntary role with other jobs.
Smith is Shetland’s local ambulance manager, a role he has worked up to since joining the ambulance service when he was 19.
Last year he was given the Queen’s Police Medal from Her Majesty for his services to the local community.
Smith explained that the role of a special constable is to “connect the police and the community” – and it’s a job he has been particularly fond of.
“Overall, it was very positive,” he said. “If I hadn’t enjoyed it, I wouldn’t have done it for 35 years.
“It was interesting, and I think it helped with the day job. A lot of the time the emergency services are working at incidents, so I knew the police officers.”
Smith admitted that juggling his ambulance job with the special constable role did have its tough moments, but said the police force had always been accommodating.
“The good thing was that all the chief inspectors here recognised that the day job took first priority. There were some times it was difficult, but I would make up time to keep the hours ticking over,” he said.
“There’s been times I had to throw off a police uniform and throw on an ambulance uniform, but there was never a conflict.”
When asked if he was proud to have pocketed the Queen’s Police Medal last year, Smith said that it was generally “unusual” for a special to receive the honour.
“It’s something I never anticipated. I’m very appreciative that people thought I was worthy, and appreciative for the efforts people made for me to get it,” he added.
Derbyshire said that “serving the community” was the most redeeming aspect of his role.
“There’s been a lot of highlights,” he reflected. “You never know what you’re going to, and you don’t have the same training [as other police officers], but when you get into it, you’re treated the same.
“It’s all to do with experience, and the officers I worked with were very good at imparting knowledge and telling you what to do and what not to do.”
So should those considering a special constable role take the plunge?
“Definitely,” Derbyshire said. “It gives you something, and it gives the community something as well. You get out as much as you put in.
“If you’re thinking about it, go for it.”
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