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Special Constables

If you would like to make a real difference in the community while gaining valuable skills, training and experience, and can commit to volunteering at least 16 hours per month, then the Special Constabulary could be for you.

Special Constables come from all walks of life and from every ethnic background, but they all share a desire to make their communities safer, more cohesive places.

National SC Strategy

The role

The ‘Specials’, as they are often known, serve as voluntary officers, under the command of regular senior officers and have their own rank structure.

Specials have the same powers as regular officers, they wear an almost identical uniform, carry the same equipment and receive exactly the same training as regular officers.

They make a significant contribution to policing in their county, by performing a huge variety of roles to support regular officers. They carry out core day-to-day policing duties such as foot patrols or responding to reports of missing people, and also train to work within specialist policing teams such as roads policing, protecting vulnerable people or community partnership teams.

Specials spend around four hours a week, or more, supporting the police to tackle crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour and to build relationships with communities.  They must complete at least 16 hours of service per month, which are arranged flexibly, according to personal and work commitments. They are usually based at the nearest police station to their home, but may need to travel for training.

Specials are supported by dedicated teams within each force, who will encourage volunteers to put in enough hours to ensure their confidence, skills and experience grows.

Who can apply?

Special constables come from all works of life and from every ethnic background, but they all share a desire to make their communities safer, more cohesive places.

To apply, you must be at least 18, eligible to work in the UK without restrictions, must disclose any criminal convictions or cautions and must be able to commit a minimum of four hours a week and 16 hours per month.

Applicants will be required to pass a selection process and those who are successful will be required to undertake a structured training programme.

Individual forces have their own specific application and training criteria which can be found on their websites.

Why become a special?

Joining the Specials opens up a world of opportunity like no other.

Through participating in the exciting world of policing you will learn new skills and qualities and build on those you already possess. These include:

  • Self-confidence
  • communication skills
  • The ability to remain calm under pressure
  • Decision making
  • Time management.

These skills can better equip you for challenges in other areas of life and can be applied to many other careers, including those within the police force, so can be of benefit to a wide range of employers.

It provides the chance to learn more about your community, by seeing it from an entirely new perspective, and gives the opportunity to give something back to your local area, making it safer and enhancing relationships between the public and the police.

You will work as part of the policing family and create long-lasting friendships with partners and colleagues.

Communication skills
Time management
Decision making
The ability to remain calm under pressure

I have learned a range of skills including basic interviewing and case building. It has also made me more resilient and able to remain calm in challenging situations.  Being a special has increased my self-confidence and my ability to manage my own time, which has been essential when balancing a full-time role as a cadet coordinator, volunteering as a special and studying for my Master’s degree.

Audrey Niddrie

For me the reality is better than I expected. Specials carry out a lot more front line policing than I had imagined when I originally enquired about the role. Many people have a perception of the Special Constabulary as only being involved in lighter, community-focused work.  There are wide-ranging opportunities and more and more roles in which specials can make an important contribution.

Paul Topham

I’ve gained the opportunity to make an impact; both in terms of recruiting new special constables, who  in turn, will make their own impact, but also by supporting frontline policing; protecting people that need help. Despite already having experience with difficult situations and conflict, I’ve developed these skills ten-fold. I’ve been thrown into situations that few people would ever come across and you have no option but to deal with it in the moment – we deal with make or break situations. Thankfully, it’s made me a much stronger character.

Nathan Selby

My role is as a dedicated roads policing special.  Sometimes this involves working with regular roads policing officers which helps me build my knowledge and skills in the field by getting involved in specialist areas such as managing and investigating serious collisions, but it also helps me stay up to date on changes in the more day to day aspects of roads policing.  I also work on my own, pro-actively focussing on a specific aspect of road safety such as speeding, mobile phone use, seatbelts or drink driving, but responding when needed to minor collisions or other non-traffic related incidents.  Some of the most rewarding shifts involve running ‘mini operations’ with other specials as part of a specific event or campaign.

Rod Winter

Being a university student, my team-working skills are good as I often have to work on group projects and presentations.  This means I can work well with my colleagues in the specials.  Also, I have developed many organisational skills at university, which have made me much more efficient at planning my time and workloads. As a special, you deal with people day in, day out, so this has really helped develop my confidence and my ‘people skills’.  The work has also taught me how to be resourceful and to show initiative.

Zain Bashir

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