The Special Constabulary

The Special Constabulary is the United Kingdom's part-time police force. It is made up of volunteer members of the public who when on duty wear a uniform and have full police powers. There are over 12,000 Specials serving with police forces across the UK.

Police Specials, on average make up 25% of each force strength. Every day Specials carry out duties alongside their regular colleagues. Amazing to think that they were once confined to the garden show cordon!

This section of PoliceUK is dedicated to those who put on that uniform, face the same risks as their regular colleagues and for absolutely nothing in return!

The selection process:

Application form is submitted and checked to make sure you meet the criteria & no occupation restrictions (see below)

Invited to attend your chosen force to complete the Police Initial Recruitment Test

Fitness test to ensure you are physically fit to undertake the role of a police officer*

Medical questionnaire passed to Occupation health to ensure you meet the standard medical requirements

Selection board at your local force headquarters/divisional station

Visit to force Occupational Health Unit (OHU) to undertake medical examination

Following successful completion of all stages you are invited to attend the next training intake of Special Constables.

*Not all forces require Specials to undertake the fitness test upon entry - However it is essential that you be of good health in order to undertake the duties of a police officer.

Specials Duties include:

Routine Patrols

Foot patrol and patrolling in a vehicle will normally take up over half of your duty times in the Specials. Patrol work is important, helping to provide a police presence and act as a deterrent to would-be offenders.

Divisions, can at times be very short staffed especially at the weekends and this is when you will be needed. Either acting as a regular patrol or working in the public order van ready to respond to your areas incidents.

Nuisance Patrols

Paying close attention to the areas of your division that attract a large amount of complaints about anti-social behaviour from the local residents.

Special Ops

Helping to police large events held within the force area. Events such as major sporting events, musical concerts or any event that is likely to attract a large amount of people to the area.

The opportunity may also arise to assist your regular colleagues carry out larger operations, such as arrest or drugs warrants etc.

Helping other agencies such as the Vehicle Inspectorate carry out roadside checks of vehicles may also be a duty allocated to the Special Constabulary.

Neighbourhood duties

Working to improve relations between the local community and the police. The neighbourhood officers work hard to ensure that an effective line of communication exists between the community and those who police it.

Unsuitable Occupations:

  • Traffic Wardens

  • Members of private Constabularies/Police forces

  • Police Authority members

  • Police Community Support Officers (PCSO's) Magistrates

  • Court Clerks

  • Persons employed in private security sector

  • Court escort officers

  • Store/private detectives

  • Members of the armed forces

  • Members of the reserve armed forces

  • NHS workers (ie nurses doctors)

  • Ambulance staff full time/reserves

  • Liqueur licencees

  • Gaming licencees

The above list is a general guideline. Some Constabularies may differ slightly. If you have any queries please contact your chosen force to confirm.

A Special view

PoliceUK talks to a serving Special to find out more on the role.

PoliceUK interviews Ian Francis, a Special Constable in a Welsh Police Force.

We find out what it's really like to be in the Specials

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A SPECIAL?

I have been a special constable since July 2005.

WHY DID YOU WANT TO JOIN THE SPECIALS?

I wanted to become a Special Constable to help my local community and as I have a big interest in the Police Service I decided to apply and gain an insight into Police work. I also knew that I would be proud to put on the uniform and help tackle crime even without getting paid. I am hoping to become a regular in the near future.

WHAT RECRUITMENT PROCESS DID YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH TO GET IN?

The recruitment process for forces differ's. With my force I had to pass an application and a Police Initial Recruitment Test. After that I had an interview and then the national police fitness test along with a medical examination by the force doctor. After that it was a long time waiting as they carried out Security Checks on the applicants. I was then offered appointment as a Special Constable after passing the checks.

WHAT WAS THE HARDEST STAGE OF THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS FOR YOU?

I think your head needs to be switched on for all parts of it. Even though its a voluntry service they only want the best going out there and representing the force in uniform. For me I was most nervous for the Police Initial recruitment test as i am hopless at maths but I managed to survive the day. If you want it so much youll get it but you have to work hard. I went on a diet 4 weeks before my medical so that i would be in god shape. I managed to loose nearly 2 stone.

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE TRAINING?

The training is a good chance to meet new people and learn exciting stuff about the Police Service. I had to do 4 weekends and then 10 weeknights down my force headquarters. I still stay in touch with the people from training. It was great fun and I dont regret it one bit.

WHATS IT LIKE BEING A SPECIAL?

Its absolutely fantastic. Even though you dont get paid, you get the same uniform and face the same challenges as the regulars. People dont see the difference, they see you as a police officer and not a special.

WHAT ARE THE REGULAR OFFICER'S LIKE TOWARDS YOU?

They are brilliant. They support me all the way and i enjoy going out with them attending calls. I have made many friends down my station and feel good about myself when I can support my colleagues in any situations.

HOW MANY HOURS A WEEK DO YOU WORK AS A SPECIAL?

The police only ask 4 hours a week off you but I work at least 16 hours a week. because I enjoy it so much I want to work as much as I can. I wish I could work everyday.

WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO PEOPLE INTERESTED IN THE SPECIALS?

All I can say is go for it. Best Of luck if you are applying.