Special Constables

So, given how happy I am with my role as a CFAV at the moment I’m considering new challenges. Anybody here a Special Constable? If so can you give some feedback on what it’s like to actually be in the role?
Additional, if anyone is a full time officer it would be good to get your perspective on how Specials are treated by fellow officers and fit into the force.

If you don’t want to make it known publicly then feel free to DM.

(Note that I’m not questioning PCSOs, for those unaware, they’re different).

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PM @daws1159

Paging @Chief_Tech

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Depends on the force is the only way to put it.

In some the Special Constabulary is it’s own little world, with its own rank structure and teams etc. In others they just make up the numbers on normal teams on an ad-hoc basis.

The same goes for skills in some places they are really limited in what they are allowed to do, in others they can have response driving courses and public order training.

As stated it depends on the force - What policing region are you in?

As always in policing it 43 forces doing things 52 different ways.

Each force does the recruitment very differently but in general you will have an interview & a fitness test.

Minimum hours is 16 a month, training tends to be at weekends but again varies a little. ,Some forces try to dictate when you do your 16 others let you pick.

Once you complete training you then go out on area crewed with an experienced special or regular, going to the exact same jobs as any regular cop.

Questions are really:-

Can you deal with conflict? (I.e. a brick being thrown at your head)

Can you talk, communicate & empathise with people?

Are you prepared that you will see a dead body? (& probably help move it, search it, put all the pieces in the same bag etc…) - it’s rare but this could also be your first operational shift.

Like all volunteers, everyone who does it does for their own individual reasons.

Bear in mind that role holds the office of constable so it’s a 24/7 responsibility - you will have the obligation to act even off duty (hence why those who work in security /doorstaff can’t be specials)

If you’re on twitter check out some of the specials accounts on there.


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Silly question but how exactly does that exclude security types from the role? Because immediately upon something happening in their job they’d have to put on their “special” hat?

Exactly that - it causes a conflict of interest. Say a security staff needed to use reasonable force to eject or detain someone, would they be acting as their paid employment or as a constable. Could they be entitled to use greater force than a security guard because of their greater training.

Or another example, a store has a “no confrontation policy” regarding shop lifters by a the security special witnesses the theft. The could arrest the shop lifter & get sacked from job or they ignore & are guilty of failing to perform a duty.

It all gets very messy.

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It’s not that cut and dried, you can be a Special on some forces as long as you are “in house” as opposed to a contractor, plenty in the City of London.

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Is Penny Lancaster still a Special Constable in the City of London Police? I bet she’d make a really good ambassador.

I recommend anyone to do it but to take is seriously and give it your all. There are people that join and just dont put the effort in or engage.

Like most public sector roles, volunteer or not, its a very thankless role.

You need to be prepared for it changing your life permanently for better and for worse. As Chief Tech said, you see the best and worst of life, death, trauma, abuse, rot, desperation and turmoil.

I did 11 years of intense volunteering as a Special, it was great but I still pay the price for the things I saw and dealt with on the job, in and out of uniform.


With my 30+ years in the constabulary, I came across quite a few specials. Some were really good, others were a waste of space on an ego trip or uniform carriers. At one point I was a tutor and took on a number of SC’. Most had the best of intentions but like all voluntary roles, other commitments took priority. If you do it good luck, but try and be a good one. Do what you can when you can. If you see or experience something traumatic take advice and support. I didn’t and came to regret it in later life.

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It’s a legal prohibition. And the scenario you mention is exactly why they can’t be a police officer.

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