Special Constabulary: recruiting and managing Specials

Basic guidelines and advice for anyone who is recruiting or managing special constables. Get the best out of your Specials by learning from the experiences of other forces.

The first step to achieving a committed volunteer workforce is a successful recruitment process. As candidates receive little or no financial reward, this must be taken into account during recruitment. The process should be accessible and simple, aiming to welcome and encourage applicants rather than creating barriers.

Recruitment materials

An updated Special Constabulary recruitment brochure is now available, to help forces in their recruitment campaigns. Please make copies of the brochure and use it as you see fit.

You can download a guide to recruitment which contains:

  • successful recruitment and retention ideas
  • marketing advice and how to target specific groups
  • who you need to involve
  • a recruitment criteria and candidate assessment.

The guide also sets out the National Recruitment Process and Standards for the Special Constabulary, which were introduced in 2010. An FAQ document contains more information.

You can find out about how potential special constables are assessed on our Specials Recruit Assessment Process page.

Recruitment, marketing and retention research

Following two surveys conducted in 2009, a report was produced in 2010 to support the development and enhancement of force recruitment and retention strategies:

Employer Supported Policing

The Employer Supported Policing programme is now managed by the Home Office. For information, please contact specialconstabularyenquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

The Special Constables (Amendment) Regulations 2012

These regulations (SI 2012/1961) came into force on 20 August 2012, and amended the Special Constables Regulations 1965 by inserting provisions about:

  • the biometric vetting of special constable candidates
  • the testing of special constables and candidates for substance misuse
  • the notification and approval of business interests held by special constables, candidates and their relatives.

Forces will need to note the implications of these changes and consider any possible impact on specials recruitment and retention.

First line manager training for volunteer supervisors

E-learning resources are available from NCALT for Special Constabulary supervisors and police staff who manage volunteers.

You can find these resources in the Core Leadership Programme (CLP) on NCALT's Managed Learning Environment. There are tabs for both Special Constabulary supervisors and police staff on the main page of the CLP portal. Each leads to trainer and learner resources, which include those for "managing volunteers" (as well as the sergeant tab). 

Independent Patrol Status (IPS)

In 2012, the National Policing Improvement Agency produced a report proposing a national minimum standard that special constables should achieve before being deemed suitable for independent patrol. You can download the report if you are registered on the Police OnLine Knowledge Area (POLKA).

To find out how to register on POLKA, visit our POLKA page.

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