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The Special Constabulary is a part-time, volunteer body which works alongside statutory police forces. The ‘specials’ have the same powers as their regular colleagues and perform almost all police duties. The role is varied and can be demanding. You might find yourself doing anything from policing sports events to helping guard crime scenes or managing road safety schemes.

Special constables come from all walks of life and form a vital link between the police and the local community. 

Assistant Chief Constable (Operations) Julian Moss is a strong supporter of the Special Constabulary:

I am in awe at the service that the Special Constabulary provides to the communities of Gloucestershire.  Time and time again I witness dedicated individuals who are passionate about their contribution to the policing profession.  These officers dedicate so much of their own time to keep the county safe.  They bring to the organisation an amazing range of skills, experience and diversity and make a very real difference to community safety.

“I am extremely grateful for everything they do, for the high levels of skill, knowledge, care and compassion that they bring to the policing of the county. Thank you.

 

Do Special Constables get paid?

Special Constables are volunteer police officers. Although you won't be paid, your training and duties will give you unique experiences, new and valuable skills, plus a tremendous sense of achievement of doing something worthwhile for your community. We pay reasonable mileage expenses, so you will not be out of pocket for giving your time to us.

Do I have the same authority as a regular officer?

Yes. You have the same powers of arrest as a regular officer when on and off duty and can use these powers throughout England and Wales. You also wear the same uniform which is provided for you.

What duties will I perform as a Special Constable?

As a Special Constable, you will carry out similar duties to a regular police constable. This means you will be responding to 999 calls (though probably not driving, unless you are trained to do so), arresting, detaining and dealing with suspects - just the same as a regular Police Constable - operating on the front line, supporting victims and witnesses of crime, providing reassurance and instilling confidence in the service.

How does being a Special Constable affect you?

Being a Special Constable is an incredible window on the "other side" of life, one that most people don't even know exists and which they are unlikely ever to come into contact with. You will see people at their very worst (and sometimes at their best). You will have to use your strength of character and common sense to deal with incidents ranging from missing persons to burglaries, assaults and car accidents. These experiences are of course going to change you and the way you view life. You will "harden" to them as you become more experienced.

Being a Special Constable is usually interesting, occasionally dangerous and sometimes frustrating, but almost always hugely rewarding. You need to have a robust sense of humour and plenty of common sense and try to avoid getting too cynical - difficult sometimes!

You may even be called upon to deal with violent offenders, but you will receive training in how to defend yourself in such situations.

Can I choose where to work?

This is flexible. There are now opportunities in more specialist roles and Special Constables are not necessarily “tied” to a particular shift or location.

How many hours will I have to work?

We ask that you volunteer at least 16 hours per month.

Can I get promoted?

Through promotion, you can rise up through the Special Constabulary ranks. Each rank progression brings extra responsibility as with the regular service.

Would I receive continuous professional training?

Yes. Once you have completed your initial training and are out performing duty, your continuous professional training will be delivered to ensure you are always up to date with current laws, legislation and procedural matters. You will also be working towards Independent Patrol Status, with the help of a Development Portfolio (PACS).

Special Constables are now a fundamental part of how we deliver policing and the National Police Chiefs Council recognises the importance of continuing to further professionalise the Special Constabulary nationally with the introduction of the national rank structure, national strategy and professional development through national occupational standards supported by the College of Policing.

Conversely, many Special Constables bring specialist transferable skills attained outside of the police service to the organisation and many possess training and experience that are not ordinarily gained within the police.

Does being a Special Constable help me become a police officer?

Being a Special Constable will enable you to experience all aspects of police work and gain a wealth of professional knowledge. There are promotion prospects within the Special Constabulary through their own rank structure. However, time served as a special officer will not guarantee a position as a regular officer.

How old do you have to be to join?

We accept applications from people aged 18 and upwards. The upper age limit is dependent on your ability to be fit and healthy and pass the medical. But bear in mind that the normal retirement age is 60 years and that new recruits are required to undertake a two-year probationary period.

Can I join if I have a criminal record?

A number of crimes will mean a definite or likely rejection of your application, including anyone who has received a formal caution in the last five years, committed a violent crime or public order offence. When applying we would recommend honesty.

Will my financial status affect my application?

Applicants will have their financial status checked. These checks are carried out because police officers/staff have access to privileged information, which may make them vulnerable to corruption.

Applicants with outstanding county court judgements or who have been registered bankrupt with outstanding debts will be rejected.

Who can apply?

Age:

You must be aged 16 years-old or over. There is no upper age limit for volunteers.

Vetting procedures:

All volunteer applicants are to be subject to vetting and security checks in line with the Gloucestershire Constabulary Vetting Policy. Any applicants unsuccessful at this stage of the process have no legal right to appeal against the decision.

Residency criteria:

The need for the residency rule arises from the requirement to vet all applicants in an equitable manner. This is because the UK police service does not currently have any means of facilitating vetting enquiries overseas to the extent required for those who are resident in the UK.

The purpose of the residency criteria is to ensure that applicants have a checkable history in the UK, so that meaningful vetting enquiries can be undertaken. The criteria provide reassurance when considering the health and safety of police personnel and the public. Effective vetting cannot be conducted if there is no way to assess the honesty, integrity, reliability and overall suitability for clearance of appointees against the information available.

The residency requirements refer to the period immediately before an application is made, and not any other three-, five-, or ten-year period, or any other accumulation of time spent in the UK.

Application of the residency criteria:

If an individual resides permanently in the UK, they are considered to be a UK resident.

An individual who has moved overseas and severed major ties to the UK (e.g., closed bank accounts and sold property) is considered to have surrendered their residency in the UK. This would also apply to people who maintain bank accounts purely for the purpose of receiving regular payments, e.g., a UK pension.

An individual is considered to be on an extended holiday if they have:

  • spent a significant period of time overseas without returning to the UK, but intend to return in the future
  • taken a gap year before or following university
  • travelled for a year
  • spent time overseas visiting family

This is not an exhaustive list.

Individuals who meet the above criteria maintain their UK residency and may therefore be considered for vetting clearance.

Serving with the HMG or armed forces:

An individual who has been posted overseas as part of their service with HMG or the armed forces is considered to have been resident in the UK for the period that they were abroad.

Where an individual has been overseas as the spouse, partner or dependent of a member of the armed forces posted overseas, they can be considered to have been resident in the UK if their place of residence was within the confines of the establishment, e.g., a military base. If they were residing outside this, they are considered to have been resident overseas.

Membership of British National Party (BNP) or similar organisations: 

Police Support Volunteers should abstain from any activity which is likely to interfere with impartial discharge of their duties or which is likely to give rise to the impression amongst members of the
public that it may so interfere. If a prospective volunteer is a member of the BNP or a similar organisation, their application will
result in rejection. 

These groups include:
• British National Party (BNP);
• Combat 18;
• National Front.

Conflict of interest:

Applications will not be accepted from individuals where there is a significant possibility that this could lead to a conflict of interest in your professional life or another volunteering role. You must therefore give full details of your current employment or other voluntary work you undertake as part of your application.

Occupations that are considered incompatible with becoming a volunteer:

• Magistrates, clerks to justices and clerks to court
• Members of county and district councils
• Probation officers
• Bailiffs, warrant officers
• Holders of liquor licences and managers of licensed houses
• Licensees of betting/gaming premises.
• Private detectives and inquiry agents
• Security officers, guards and door people
• Members of employer’s police forces and private constabularies
• Civilian detention officers
• Custody officers and custody escort officers
• Parking enforcement officers
• Neighbourhood wardens
• Members of the full-time fire service
• Members of the Armed Forces

The following occupations may also be considered incompatible for particular volunteer roles:

• Members of medical and health professions
• Occupations with client privilege
• Youth workers and social workers
• Employees of security organisations

Tattoos, jewellery and facial/body piercing:

Jewellery must be discreet and inoffensive. Language or images displayed must not be inappropriate or offensive. Excessive or unconventional jewellery is inappropriate. Jewellery is a potential risk in certain situations, as it can cause an injury if caught in machinery,
or pulled by an opponent. Individuals are responsible for minimising this risk.

Individuals who wear uniforms/protective clothing, or who meet the public as part of their role, must not wear jewellery which is loose, or dangles. Long earrings, jewellery for facial piercings, large rings, bracelets, or necklaces must not be worn. Individuals who work with machinery must not wear any jewellery, other than a wedding ring.

Piercings must be kept to a minimum and must be discreet.

Tattoos are not a barrier to volunteering in the constabulary; however, some tattoos could offend members of the public and colleagues, or could bring discredit to the police service.

If you need any clarification regarding your tattoos or piercings, then please email us on specialconstables@gloucestershire.pnn.police.uk

It depends on the size, nature, location, extent and whether the images or language are appropriate to be displayed. Tattoos are not acceptable if they:
• Cause offence to members of the public or colleagues
• Invite provocation
• Undermine the dignity or authority of the Constabulary
• Are garish or numerous or particularly prominent
• Indicate unacceptable attitudes to any section of the community
• Indicate alignment with a particular group which could be offensive  to the public, or colleagues
• Are considered to be rude, lewd, crude, racist, sexist, sectarian, homophobic, violent or intimidating

Individuals should cover their tattoos. They may be expected to take action to rectify the tattoos, if these fail to meet the standard of non-visibility, or appropriateness.

Individuals with a tattoo on their head are expected to take steps to minimise visibility, either by growing their hair, or by the use of headwear. Headwear may not always be appropriate, so must be approved by the manager of the department in which the volunteer is deployed.

How can I apply?

We do not currently have any vacancies within the Special Constabulary.

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Page last updated: 28 February 2019