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24 September 2014
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Title - Extra Norfolk

Special mission: Have you got what it takes?

Picture: Wendy Pope in police uniform.
Wendy in police uniform: ready for work as a special constable in Bowthorpe, Norwich

Name: Wendy Pope.

Age: 33.

Family: I’m divorced, a single mum with two children: a son, aged 15, and a daughter, aged 12.

Where do you live? I live in Norwich and have done so all my life.

Job: I’m a cook/manager at a Norwich first school and cook around 70 lunches a day. I work for Norfolk County Council and have done so for about seven years. I work 27½ hours a week. I order the ingredients to make the meals. I also do the accounts and budgets.

How do you fit being a special constable in with your work?

Norfolk County Council is part of the STEP scheme [Specials Through Employers Partnership] that allows employees who are special constables to have paid time off work to carry out police duties.

Picture: Wendy in her cook's uniforn at a desk.
Wendy at her day job - organising the accounts

I don’t take mine in a large lump, as this would cause problems - there's only myself and another lady. So I take mine in small bits at the end of the day before going on duty as a special.

My rank as a special is constable and I am stationed at Bowthorpe section box in Norwich where I’ve been for three and a half years.

Why did you join the specials?

I had some problems that needed the police's help. I was so pleased with that help I felt I wanted to give something back as just saying thanks didn’t seem enough.

What do you get from being a special?

My confidence has grown and the pleasure you feel when you walk away from somebody’s house or a job knowing you’ve helped is unexplainable.

Before you turned up someone was troubled, scared, hurt or just didn’t know what to do. Some people think I’m mad for doing this job for free but they can’t understand what I feel because they are not me.

I’ve suffered domestic violence. I know what it’s like to feel fear when your husband's come home from the pub and had one too many.

Being able to advise someone in the same position and tell them what they can do is all the payment I need. This does work the other way too with women beating up men.

What's the biggest incident you've dealt with?

It was in a village near Norwich. We had a call to a domestic argument. When we arrived two regular officers and I were speaking to the lady when a message came over the radio to get the lady and the officers out of the house. The man had a gun.

I grabbed the lady, put her in front of me and ran with her down a passage.

My only thought was, "I’ve only had my body armour three weeks and I’m about to get a hole in it!"

When the lady and myself were safe in the car I got her to draw a picture of the gun and a plan of the house.

When the firearms squad arrived I briefed them all.

I could not believe I did all this, as I was only a special. I felt all the way through that somebody was going to take it all away from me.

I thought the regulars would take over, but they left me to it.

What were your after thoughts?

I was so proud. To think only a few years ago I was that shy girl in the pub not saying much. Not now!

Read about Steven Newson's work as a special and how he coped with a road accident

Read how you could become a special constable and how employers can help

Check out Norfolk Constabulary's website:
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