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Jerry Sheppard

Life After the Job: Jerry Sheppard

Ian Weinfass speaks to a successful detective turned project manager who thinks specials can be used in a better way.

Jerry Sheppard


The special constabulary has often been described as an untapped resource in policing, and few would echo this sentiment more than Jerry Sheppard.

In his 37 year career first in Gibraltar then the Met, the former officer helped re-shape CID, established the policing plan for The O2 Arena and remodelled the professional standards department.

But it was in his role designing and delivering the force's special constabulary at a period of massive expansion that has perhaps shaped his life after the job more than any other.

Mr Sheppard now runs Volunteering Values, a consultancy which aims to help organisations make the most of those who give up their time for free.

Those who praise his work publicly include City of London Police, Devon and Cornwall Police, St John Ambulance and the London Transport Museum.

In 2009 the Met had just 2,500 specials, by 2012 this had risen to nearly 6,000. Previously a successful detective, one of his last big roles was to help the force make the most of this expansion.

"They were interesting times, going from being an investigator one day, to being a project manager the next. It was good, it gave me the opportunity to think outside the box," he recalled.

"With the specials there were things which we looked at - training, development, leadership; as well as the culture of the organisation, in not seeing the value of specials. I was as much to blame as anyone, you get so engrossed in what you were doing you forgot there's additional resources available to you."

One of the main problems he saw was the lack of a job description for the role. "If you don't have that, how can you get the best out of them?" he said.

And there was a personal involvement in trying to bring about change: "My son was a special. He said to me - 'Do the public know the difference between a special and regular? Why are we trained differently?'"

His work, including on the achieving of independent patrol status, helped form the basis of national policy on the special constabulary still used today.

He felt that by having a structured programme in place for this, forces would reap the rewards - including by saving money on recruiting from this pool of officers into the regulars later on.

Volunteering Values offers reviews of forces' current specials programmes, advising them on how they can do more with their personnel, reduce attrition rates and on leadership programmes for the unpaid personnel.

"We look at  the use of specials both strategically and tactically - giving feedback on their use, make recommendations and check against the national guidelines," he said.

The company also offers advice on police support volunteers - an area which the Home Secretary recently pledged to grow.

So did his work in the force inform his current consultancy? "Well to be fair we went back to the beginning and looked again at the strategy."

But it is the passion for making the most of volunteers that continues to this day? "Yes. I always got the satisfaction of solving crimes and ensuring justice is done and seen to be done, but making a difference to the special constabulary, seeing the  changes and the support at a national level as well others taking it up was great."

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