Former cop sharing career knowledge as a Special


PUBLISHED 26 Jun 2024

IN News

A retired Cambridgeshire cop, who was the first female in the country to complete ‘hostage rescue’ training, is now sharing her experience and knowledge of policing with others, via her work as a Special Inspector.

Mother-of-two and grandmother-of-one Claire Beck started volunteering with the constabulary in 2018, having retired as a sergeant four years prior.

“I loved policing, and I was always – and still am – proud to be part of the Force,” said 60-year-old Claire, who alongside volunteering as a Special, works in operational learning as a police staff member.

She added: “Of course, I could’ve been spending my retirement taking nice holidays but instead, I chose to give 500 hours to the Force [last year, including her time as a full-time police staff member]. I’m not ready to leave policing yet.”

Claire joined Cambridgeshire Constabulary in June 1983, before becoming the only woman in the Force – at the time – to complete their firearms training in 1989. She went on to become a qualified firearms instructor in 1993.

“I started on the front line policing – now response team – specifically working in roads policing and then specialised in traffic – now roads policing),” recalled Claire, who successfully applied for promotion 23 years into the job.

“I was late to the promotion party because I loved the roles I had so much.”

She was then a firearms officer from 1993 to 1998 and I was also the first female in the country to complete national hostage rescue [rapid intervention] training.

“I admit, it was definitely a challenge at the time – being one of very few women, and in some cases the only woman to carry a firearm. I really had to prove myself,” said Claire, adding: “I feel very lucky to have had the career I did and I’m very proud of my achievements.”

Now, Claire supports others – both Specials and regulars – via her volunteer role and in her police staffing capacity.

“Personally, I  felt like the needs of a lot of Special Constables – specifically around support and development – were falling by the wayside,” she said. “They really need that support, especially those on the frontline.

“In my day job, I help people with their professional development and as a Special, I support the development of others using my experience as a cop.”

Reflecting on the national drop in Special Constables, Claire said she is optimistic numbers will start to increase again.

“At the moment, we have 68 Specials here at Cambridgeshire, and we are now recruiting ahead of a course starting in January. We’re hoping to gain a lot of applications for the recruitment process we opened earlier this month (3 June) and to train a course of 20 new specials in January.”

As the current recruitment drive continues, Claire’s message to anyone who might be considering volunteering as a Special is ‘do it’.

“It’s an amazing feeling, volunteering. It’s a chance to give back and support the community, while at the same time, having a day job,” she ended.

If you know someone who is interested in hearing more about becoming a Special Constable, please advise visit the Force’s Special Constables page.