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Special constable

'Specials', as the special constables are known, come from all walks of life. They’re teachers, taxi drivers, accountants and secretaries and they all volunteer a minimum of four hours a week to their local police areas.

Specials provide a link between the police and the diverse communities we serve, helping the force meet policing needs and increase the level of public satisfaction.

Specials are sworn in by a magistrate in the same manner as a regular police officer. They work alongside their regular colleagues, are based at the same police stations, have the same powers in law, including the power of arrest, and wear the same uniform.

The role of a special constable

Specials work with the regular force, which means you will work side-by-side with your regular colleagues, responding to all kinds of incidents.

Once qualified for independent patrol, there are opportunities to specialise in other departments. Road policing, investigations and safeguarding vulnerable people are some examples.

Specials also work at football matches and other public events, such as galas and concerts. They support regular officers in times of emergency and assist with matters such as crime prevention, taking crime reports, witness interviews, enquiries, escorts, youth diversion and transport.

Special constables drive police vehicles at varying levels of competency and complete the same driving courses as regular police officers.

Special constables are not paid, but do receive meal and mileage expenses to ensure they’re not out of pocket when they turn up to perform a duty. As a special constable, there is also potential for promotion to the following ranks;

  • Chief Officer
  • Assistant Chief Officer
  • Special Superintendent
  • Special Chief Inspector
  • Special Sergeant.

You will find the work of a special constable varied, interesting and at times, exciting. But above all you will have the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping to reduce crime, disorder and fear in Cambridgeshire.

Benefits of being a special

People join the special constabulary for many different reasons. Some want to give something back to the community, others want to expand their skill sets and life experiences, and some are interested in joining the regular police force and want to know more about what police do.

Joining the Special Constabulary opens up a world of opportunity for personal and professional development. Undergoing the training and then performing the role of a police officer is challenging, but provides a welcome break from day-to-day life, bringing excitement and new insight with every day you volunteer.

Benefits of being a special constable include;

  • significant learning and development opportunities that would bring a competitive advantage in the employment market
  • gaining confidence
  • significantly widening your life experiences
  • developing teamwork and problem solving skills
  • keeping the people and communities of Cambridgeshire safe by delivering a high-quality policing service.

Apply to be a special

We welcome applications from people of all different backgrounds, cultures, religions, ages, genders and sexual orientations. There are some eligibility conditions that all applicants must meet as part of their application;

  • must be 18 or over
  • able to cope in a busy environment
  • have time to spare
  • be a British Citizen or passport holder from a full EU member state. You can also apply if you're a Commonwealth citizen or foreign national who is a resident in the UK with indefinite leave to remain. All applicants must have a minimum of three years’ UK residency
  • do not have a criminal record. If you do have a criminal record, this doesn't mean you're automatically ineligible; it depends on the nature of your conviction. Please declare any caution or conviction on your application form and if you have any questions on this, you can contact HREnquiries@herts.pnn.police.uk for advice
  • must not have any offensive tattoos which can be seen as discriminatory, violent or intimidating or could be offensive. Visible tattoos must be covered if you are successful in your application. Please supply photos and measurements of any tattoos along with your application
  • should be financially stable. If you are struggling with debt, you may still be able to apply. You should provide us with evidence of your ability to manage your debts successfully. However, if you have any outstanding county court judgements or you are not discharged from bankruptcy, then you are automatically ineligible.

You can get an application form to become a special constable on our recruitment website

If you wish to contact someone local to discuss the role of a special or the application process please use one of the below email addresses;

Special constable training

Before taking part in any police patrol duties, you will undergo an initial training course. The course is over a 10 week period, which will consist of distance learning via online training packages, including;

  • criminal law
  • legal powers
  • traffic offences
  • policies, procedures
  • communication and radio use
  • practical policing skills
  • IT systems
  • self-defence
  • first aid.

During initial training there will also be frequent evening webinar sessions to support and guide you. There is also a mandatory Sunday session to enable you to practice your skills.

Mandatory attendance at a regional training centre is required for four consecutive weeks, where you will attend all day on both Friday and Saturday for personal safety training and assessed role plays to test your law knowledge.

At the end of your training, you will receive a certificate at a graduation ceremony to mark the successful completion of the course.

After initial training and graduation, you will have a further 18 months with a coach to complete your police action checklist (PAC). The checklist consists of six units, which relate to arresting, searching and responding to incidents and need to be completed before you can patrol independently.

Policing never stands still, so you are expected to keep yourself abreast of changing law, policy and procedure. Training will be provided throughout your 18-month probationary period to assist you.

To find out about the history of the Special Constabulary and the employer supported policing (ESP) scheme, visit our specials page.

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