Citizens in policing

Citizens in policing is an umbrella term for over 500,000 volunteers who support the police either directly or indirectly. The citizens' role in policing continues to be as vital today as it was in the creation of the Peelian principles on which the police service was founded. Embracing and developing 'citizens in policing' provides an excellent opportunity to not only increase additional capabilities, but also to build social capital and ensure that the service continues to successfully police with our communities' consent.

Key building blocks of the citizens in policing programme are Police Support Volunteers and Special Constables.

Police Support Volunteers are now part of the police culture and are highly valued not only for the direct support they provide but for the key links to the community. They are vetted and undertake many varied tasks depending upon the needs and constraints of each individual force.

Special Constables are a force of trained volunteers who provide a valuable link between the police and the local community. With the same powers as regular officers, they work in their free time on a variety of police duties.

Additional support to the Citizens in Policing programme includes Volunteer Police Cadets and Neighbourhood and Home Watch. Both operate independently and have their own websites. These are  and

The main benefits of Citizens in Policing to forces are:

  • Greater community involvement in policing
  • Increased support for neighbourhood policing
  • Giving communities a voice and an opportunity to share responsibility for community safety outcomes
  •  Greater additionality to manage demand

      •  Information and intelligence exchange between agencies and communities

Latest News

National Specials Weekend

This year's National Specials Weekend (NSW) will take place over the weekend of 1-3 June (thereby incorporating the Friday evening preceding the weekend).

The NSW is a policing-specific event, first held in 2003, that takes place on an annual basis. Over one particular weekend forces look to undertake activities that make visible and concerted use of the skills of their Special Constabulary officers. This assists in drawing the attention of the public to the significant contribution these individuals make to policing.

The date of the NSW used to change annually, but is now embedded as a key part of National Volunteers Week, which takes between 1-7 June each year.

Originally a specific national theme was chosen each year. However, forces can now develop their own events, based upon identified local issues and policing needs.

For more details please see the national Citizens in Policing website.

Citizens in policing programme of work

Each force volunteer organisation is driven by their own strategic aims identifying the best fit that works for them. The Citizens in Policing portfolio supported by the College of Policing offers support and assistance to forces to develop their volunteer programme through:

  • Definition and development of national standards
  • Production of national guidance
  • Identification and sharing of evidenced based 'good practice'

Citizens in Policing includes three key types of voluntary partnerships

1,  Those trained, managed and mentored within the force:

  • Special Constables
  • Volunteer Police Cadets
  • Police Support Volunteers

2.   Partnered and supported by the police:

  • Neighbourhood and Home Watch
  • Citizen Patrols [such as Street Pastors/Angels]
  • Crimestoppers
  • Speed watch
  • Victim support

3.  Holding the police to account through:

  • Independent Advisory Groups
  • Independent Custody Visitor Scheme

In June 2014 a Citizens in Policing 'Community of Practice' was created which includes over 25 key stakeholder groups who meet quarterly in support of the citizens in policing agenda. 

The College of Policing uses cookies to collect and analyse information about the users of this website. We use this information to enhance the content and other services available on the site. By continuing to use our site, you are agreeing for us to set a small number of cookies. You can manage your preferences for Cookies at any time, for more information please see our Cookies Policy.