LAST week was national volunteers week, and the South Wales Argus' community reporter Brooke Boucher spent some time on patrol with Gwent Police Special Constables in Newport city centre.

Colin Brooks, 47, from Cardiff works as a college tutor during the day and volunteers as a ‘special’ in his spare time.

On average, he spends around 60-80 hours a month giving up his spare time to help the police, when they only ask for around 16.

Same goes for Matthew Chapman, 29 from Undy, who also does beyond the asked hours after coming from his day job as a railway electrician.

Both have the same powers and equipment as regular officers; the only difference is that they are not getting paid.

They’re often called the Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT), where officers will walk through the community and tackle issues at a local level by speaking to people.

When asked why they had signed up to the scheme, both said that it offered something different than their normal job.

Officer Brooks has a military background and left the army in 2012, before becoming a tutor.


He said: “There’s not the same bond with your colleagues in the teaching world as there is the officers I volunteer with.

“Everyone is so close-knit, if someone needs help, anything at all, someone comes running.”

Officer Brooks found out about the scheme through the Gwent Police website, after his wife had mentioned joining the police force.

He added: “I would have joined the regular police force as my day job, but the starting wage is so low, and I wouldn’t be able to afford it.”

Both have received training under the Professional Development Programme (PDP), where they must achieve a certain amount of arrests, stop searches, gain experience using communications, and such in order to pass.

The training can take up to a one-year to complete but is flexible as to when it’s completed depending on how many hours the individual is able to do.

When walking through the city centre on patrol, both were greeted and waved at by many people passing by.

Officer Brooks even offered to carry the bags of an elderly man who had stopped them to ask for directions.

South Wales Argus:

(Officer Brooks helping an elderly man carry his bags through the city centre after asking for directions)

Officer Chapman expresses how he enjoys patrolling the Newport area, as it’s such a central and small patch.

He said: “It’s easy to walk through and get to places and you get to know faces," he said.

"Every day is different, from suicide calls, shoplifters, the elderly that might be lost, anti-social behaviour.

“We have no idea what could happen, it’s so spontaneous, we just have to deal with what’s given to us.

Both stopped to chat with the homeless, asking one gentleman if he wanted anything in WHSmith, and one elderly woman expressed her joy at seeing police officers patrolling the streets.

Officer Brooks said: “Everything that we have been trained to do, we have to then put into practice in the real world."

When talking about public perceptions of police officers, Mr Brooks says how people tend not to understand the difficulties of their job and the procedures that must be followed.

South Wales Argus:

(Officer Brooks issuing a parking ticket)

“People expect you to act on things straight away, but there is a lot has to be done before an arrest can be made, such as checking CCTV or taking statements.

“People tend to have a simplified idea of what the police can and can’t do."

Both speak about how it’s not an easy job to do, but it is a fulfilling one.

Officer Brooks added: “We’re not taught about how to handle telling someone that a family member has been in a fatal accident."

Officer Chapman told a story about an encounter with one of their known offenders, which led to him almost being stabbed by a used heroin filled needle.

Officer Brooks added: “There’s no training in the world that can prepare you for this role.”

You can find out more information and vacancies for this role at