Meet the University of Portsmouth technician helping enforce lockdown rules as a special constable
A TECHNICIAN at the city’s university has been volunteering as a special constable – even giving up some of his annual leave to support the police in managing the coronavirus lockdown.
University of Portsmouth employee, Stuart Graves, 46, has been spending two days a week on patrol with full-time officers, helping to enforce the rules of lockdown and provide a ‘visible police presence’.
Stuart, from Havant, said: ‘My duties involve assisting the enforcement of Covid-19 lockdown guidelines both when they were first brought in and now with more relaxed measures.
‘A big part has been participating in engagement patrols in the city’s neighbourhoods to ensure we are visible to the public and communicate the regulations of lockdown.’
Stuart was keen to continue to fulfil his duties despite his own underlying health conditions.
‘When it all started I was extremely scared and it took a lot of courage to go back on duty,’ he said.
‘I’d heard about officers being coughed at and spat at but I had a strong sense of wanting to go back and do what I could. I began to question myself and how I would feel if I took the easy route out.’
Despite a lot of highly publicised incidents of people flaunting lockdown rules, Stuart said his experience has generally been ‘very positive’.
‘While people may not be happy when you’re stopping them from doing things, the public have not been aggressive and have generally responded well when asked to stop,’ he said.
‘The type of incidents tend to be kids playing football together in the park and more recently a one woman who was swimming in the sea.
Stuart worked as a volunteer special constable between 2000 and 2010 before returning to the role in 2018. While volunteers are entitled to 12 duty days from employers, Stuart has been taking leave to increase his number of weekly shifts during lockdown.
‘There’s nothing else like being on duty and making a difference in the community. In university I’m in a bit of a bubble but when on patrol I get to see parts of life I wouldn’t normally experience,’ said Stuart.
Special constables have full police powers.
To find out more see hampshire.police.uk