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About the Special Constabulary

The Special Constabulary is a force of trained volunteers who work with and support their local police force. 'Specials', as the Special Constables are known, come from all walks of life and they all volunteer a minimum of four hours a week to their local police forces, forming a vital link between the regular (full-time) police and the local community. At first, they are asked to spend some weekends training. Later they will take part in regular evening and update sessions working through the national training curricula. They must be thoroughly grounded in the basic aspects of police work before they can begin to carry out any police duties, so they are trained in police service, self defence, powers of arrest, common crimes, and preparing evidence for court. Once Special Constables have completed their training, they have the same powers as a regular officer and wear a similar uniform.

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The Main Role

Generally speaking, the constabulary's main role is to conduct local, intelligence-based patrols and to take part in crime prevention initiatives, often targeted at specific problem areas. However, in many forces, constables are also involved in policing major incidents, and in providing operational support to regular officers.

Many Different Options

Depending upon their individual force, Specials can conduct foot patrols, assist at the scene of accidents, fights or fires, enforce road safety initiatives, conduct house-to-house enquiries, provide security at major events, present evidence in court, tackle anti-social behaviour or spend time at local schools educating youths about safety.

Responsibility Grows With Experience

Once they have the right training and practical experience, Specials can take on more responsibility. Some forces have grades within the Specials unit so volunteers can be promoted within the ranks. As with regulars, promotion is achieved through good performance, dedication to duty and evidence of leadership qualities.

What's In It For You?

Experiences, friends, skills, recognition, variety, excitement, understanding, personal satisfaction and much more. Being a Special Constable presents immense opportunity for personal and professional gain. People join the Special Constabulary for many different reasons. Some want to give something back to the community. Others are interested in joining the regular police force and want to know more about what police do. Others have unsuccessfully applied to the regular police force and want on-the-job experience before reapplying.

Get A Foot In The Door Of The Regular Police Force

Whether you've tried to apply before or just want to get a feel for what it's like to work with the Police, joining the Specials is a good way to gain valuable experience, make contacts, and find out if a career in the Police force is right for you.

Got What It Takes

Basic eligibility requirements are detailed below, but before applying always check with the force you'd like to join.

Age And Nationality

Nationality and minimum age requirements are the same for Special Constables and regular police officers - you must be over the age of 18 and a half, and a national of a country within the European Economic Area (EEA). If you're not a national of an EEA country, you need to have the right to live here without restrictions.

Personal Qualities

Pretty much the same personal qualities that are looked for in the regular force - integrity, honesty, tact and communication skills.

Level Of Education

You are not judged you on your school achievements. You will need to pass an assessment of your written and spoken English and numeracy skills, but it's up to your particular force to decide how these are assessed. Most forces require you to undertake the Police Initial Recruitment (PIR) test. This will test your ability to check information, observe scenes and recall details. However, a number of forces have come up with their own assessment methods which are specifically designed around the role of a Special Constable.

Physical And Health Expectations

You need to be in reasonably good health to be able to perform the role of Special Constable and you will have to have this checked. You may be asked to do the same full-scale physical test as regular officers. Some forces also request a medical examination which is performed either by the Force Occupational Health Unit, or by your family doctor. Eyesight is particularly important and you may need to have your eyes checked by an optician as part of your assessment.

Special Attributes

Being representative of the communities we serve is a big priority for us. So depending on the area you live in, there may be a particular opportunity for you to join the Special Constabulary if you're:

  • a woman
  • from a minority ethnic group
  • part of the gay and lesbian community

How To Apply

If you're thinking of volunteering for the Special Constabulary, or if you want to know more about terms and conditions and eligibility criteria, you can ring the free-call hotline on: 0845 608 3000 and ask for a recruitment pack.

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