National Volunteers Week: Cambridgeshire Special reflects on role 


PUBLISHED 06 Jun 2024

IN Community News

As part of National Volunteers Week (3 – 9 June), we caught up with Cambridgeshire’s Maria Carpenter about her journey as a Special Constable.

Even as a teenager, Maria Carpenter always held an aspiration to join the Police Force.

Applying to become an officer while still at school, Maria was keen to build her craft from the ground up, but her recruitment unfortunately never materialised. Closing the door on policing, at least for the time being, the now 36-year-old soon began a different career path.

“I think the application [being unsuccessful] was down to my lack of life experience at the time,” explained Maria. “I was disappointed, but I was at an age where it was easy to move on to the next thing.”

As life went on, Maria realised the dream of joining the Force had not quite left her. From a distance, she remained curious about policing, always mindful of her perspective being on the outside, looking in and wanting this change one day.

Maria continued to endeavour and progress in her career, in which she currently enjoys a day job as a health and safety advisor for a construction company. Once feeling settled, she began exploring the possibility of becoming part of the Police in some capacity and in 2019, joined the Special Constabulary.

“It was always in the back of my mind and it felt like the right time to make it happen,” she continued. 

“For a while, I had also been wanting to boost my confidence in dealing with people in difficult circumstances and moments of adversity. So, for multiple reasons, being a Special just made sense.”

Working 40 hours a week in her day job, Maria now proudly dedicates every other weekend to her duties as a Special Constable. On top of this, she has a four-year-old son, Alfred, whose birth coincided with her early months as a voluntary officer.

“Even if my life has got very busy in the last few years, I wouldn’t change any of it. My pregnancy and maternity leave with Alfred meant I only truly got going as a Special towards the latter part of 2021, but that has been more than enough time to see what being a police officer is all about,” she said.

So far, Maria has been based in Ely and has mainly worked as part of response teams. Additionally, she has been a member of Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s Vision Zero Team, who aim to reduce casualties in road accidents across the region.

As far as Maria is concerned, throwing herself into the intensity of these roles means she can fulfil her exact motivations for wanting to join the Force.

“I didn’t want to join and only do things I would feel comfortable with – I wanted to experience waiting for an emergency call, and then dealing with situations that would really make me think, ‘wow, I’m an actual police officer and I’m making a difference.’”

Recalling a specific incident, Maria told of an incident that took place in February this year, when she received a GoodSAM call.

She explained: “I was in the car with a colleague when I received a call, alerting me to a man who was having a heart attack. It gets to the point where you don’t think, you just do – the car was spun around in the opposite direction, and we reached the man. Thankfully, he survived.”

“We had to stop him from dying, and it’s only afterwards you realise you don’t have that bystander mentality anymore – which is what I wanted to get rid of.”

The mother-of-one added that although demanding, circumstances like these mean she is consistently growing as both a police officer and as a person.

She ended: “I’m getting more and more confident all the time. I may be a volunteer, but I’m getting so much out of it that goes beyond money.

“Maybe I wasn’t ready to be part of the Police when I was younger, but I’m so glad that I didn’t let go of the idea forever, because here I am now.”