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:
- 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.