What is a Special Constable?

Since becoming a Special Constable a question I have encountered time after time is “what does a Special do?”. If you are a serving Special or planning to become a Special you will no doubt encounter it! So here it is! The definitive guide to the role of a Special Constable, written by a Special Constable.

The simple answer is that a Special Constable is a Police Officer who isn’t being paid, we are voluntary. Despite this, Special constables have exactly the same role as a regular police officer, who is paid for their work. We respond to the same incidents, drive the same cars and wear the same uniform. Most people don’t even notice the difference between us and the regulars. Special Constables have the same powers of arrest as a regular officer and we are able to write out traffic tickets and execute warrants just as a regular officer would.

Most see the Specials as a route into the regular police force and while it is an excellent insight into the world of the police, many specials work a full-time job alongside being a Special Constable. The beauty of being a Special is that you can choose when you want to work, most forces require you to complete a minimum amount of hours per month but there is no limit to how much you can do. You are also paid expenses, most often by the mile,which means that you don’t have to invest your own money into your travel. The mileage allowance is also fairly generous in most cases meaning that a little can creep into your pocket and bolster the bank balance.

As can be expected there is a significant amount of training required before you can hit the streets as a voluntary police officer. My time as a special began with 5 months of training or 10-12 weeks depending on the force. This training is delivered in a way to suit your day job and often is on weekday evenings and weekends. It consists of lots of theory and law learning, role plays and a couple of tests. The best part of the training is the Officer Safety Training (OST) which is where you learn to use PAVA spray, batons and handcuffs as well as how to defend yourself in combat. Essentially its 6 days of rolling around on mats fighting with people you didn’t even know 5 months ago but are now lifelong friends.

Once you have completed your training you will then go through an Attestation Ceremony which is where you take the Oath to “protect life and property” and “preserve the queens peace” and then you are let loose at your chosen station. As a Probationer…

As a special constable I have experienced things I never thought I ever would! I have been given opportunities that I wouldn’t have ever even considered possible. I have laughed and I have cried and met some truly incredible people. The role is rewarding every single time you go out on shift and even off duty you may have to spring into action! I would encourage anyone to join! Each police force has a special constabulary and if you are interested in joining then the relevant information can be found on your local police forces website. I will soon be publishing a guide on how to become a Special constable so stay tuned and why not sign up for our email notification service so that you don’t miss out! You can also support the blog on Patreon via the link below!


I have also compiled a list of useful materials such as books etc to help you through your training I used these 3 and have ordered them in the order that I found them most useful. Just click on the Picture to be forwarded to Amazon!

Blackstones: Policing for the Special Constable

Richard McMunn: Police Special Constable

How2Become: How to pass the Police Special Constable Selection Tests

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