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Special Constabulary

Special constables are a true sign of the partnership between the police and the public. They provide vital support to a whole range of policing activities. There are many voluntary organisations throughout the county yet the Special Constabulary offers a unique variety of experience and excitement. Watch the video below for an insight into why one of our current Specials volunteers her time.

This page offers historical information about the Special Constabulary, including advice and information for employers of Special constable volunteers and how to apply to become a Special

Eloise Bullock video transcript

Employer supported policing

Employer supported policing (ESP) is a scheme which involves employers supporting their staff in volunteering as Special constables.

The force works alongside employers to support specials in their duties of increasing public safety and confidence. Benefits to employers of ESP include;

  • staff development at little or no cost
  • improved staff morale and motivation
  • greater staff retention and lower recruitment costs
  • staff who are trained in leadership, decision making, effective communication and problem solving
  • police trained and empowered staff working on your business premises
  • having members of staff who are properly briefed in respect of local crime trends
  • key 'marketable' enhancement of corporate social responsibility.

As an employee who volunteers in the Special Constabulary, you will have the chance to develop personally, enhance your CV and skill-set and give something back to the community in your spare time.

Employer supported policing process

As an employer within this scheme, you agree to promote the Special Constabulary through your internal communication methods.

Should a member of your staff pass the assessment process and become a Special constable, we ask you to sponsor them by giving them an agreed amount of time to carry out their duties as a Special constable in the local community.

There are a number of ways in which employers can support the scheme including;

  • promoting the recruitment of Special constables by:
    • request the Special Constabulary booklet  and put up in your office
    • copy our Special Constabulary article and put on your intranet
    • releasing your employee for training, encouraging other staff to be Specials and allowing use of business facilities for Special Constabulary work where appropriate
    • being reasonably flexible by allowing an agreed amount of paid hours or days for your employee/s to carry out Special constable duties.

Register your business with employer supported policing

If you are interested in taking part in employer supported policing for your employees, there are a number of ways in which you can support the scheme.

For more details please email

History of the Special Constabulary

The Special Constabulary was formed in 1831, although it can trace its history back even further to the volunteers who provided help and security before paid police forces existed.

It wasn't until the mid-1700s that London's Bow Street Runners formed the first paid police force. These were incorporated into the new Metropolitan Police Force introduced by Sir Robert Peel in the early 19th Century.

Special Constables Act

In 1831, the Special Constables Act gave justices of the peace the power to conscript men as special constables to combat riots and social unrest.

However, by the early 1860s, regular paid police had formed throughout England and Wales, lessening the need for the volunteer constabulary. Yet in the early 20th century, they were needed again and the Special Constables Act of 1914 recreated the volunteer force for the duration of World War One.

The law proved so successful that it led to another Act in 1923, continuing the Special Constabulary.

Today's special constables can trace their lineage directly to that Act. The Police Act of 1964 established the Special Constabulary in its present form and gave Chief Constables the power to appoint and manage specials.

Apply to become a Special

Visit our vacancies page to find the Specials application form.

If you have any questions about the recruitment process or wish to speak to someone about the role, please email

To find out more about the benefits and role of being a Special, visit our police jobs page


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