THEY have the same powers as police constables.
Their uniforms are exactly the same and if you were arrested in Huddersfield you wouldn’t know they were not a regular Pc.
Special Constables or ‘specials’ are unpaid police officers who volunteer their time to learn new skills and give something back to the community.
Kirklees currently has the highest number of specials in West Yorkshire as Huddersfield Pc Sharon Kingsley explains.
“Being a special means they are essentially carrying out the same role as a regular. They have a uniform, a collar number, a warrant; They are serving officers.
“We ask for our specials to be able to commit to a minimum of 16 hours a month.
“We vary rarely put pressure on them to come in and do extra as many of them are working a full time job alongside being a special. We will ask for assistance with operations, but a lot of them do it off their own back anyway before we ask.
“Kirklees Specials currently range in age between 19 and 50.
“Some would like a career in the police but some want to assist regular officers and just see it as helping the community. And it’s pretty tough because we don’t know when we will be recruiting for regular officers”.
But the West Yorkshire force insist the role of specials is not a cost cutting move and is simply responding to volunteer demand.
Pc Kingsley said: “To put it into context, in the week of August riots we were inundated with Specials some who had taken leave from their paid jobs to step in for the force.”
In the seven days of Operation Ringway, which targeted the summer disturbances in Kirklees, Specials worked 730 hours – the equivalent of 84 police constable shifts.
Pc Kingsley added: “We had one man who cancelled going to a stag do in York and one special came back from Scotland especially to help out.
“It was amazing that people rang up after they heard what was happening.
“We made use of specials by back filling for officers who were public order trained.”
And with a recruitment freeze for West Yorkshire Police, implemented as the force tries to cope with Government cuts, the standard for volunteers is high.
She added: “We try to have a proportion of specials to regular officers.
“It’s such a big division that to have specials is a massive part of what we do.
“The directive from the Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison is that specials work alongside regulars in Neighbourhood Policing Teams.
“There is also progression with Section Officers equivalent to Sergeant and Senior Section Officers level with Inspector.
“We have just closed recruitment and around 200 hopefuls have applied.
“We run the courses at the weekend but it is a big commitment even when they are still training its around 12 weekends, home learning and there is an exam at the end.
“They undergo extensive training to ensure they are up to speed on law procedures.”
What are Special Constables?
Special Constables have full police powers, uniform and equipment and perform police duties alongside regular officers.
They provide a vital link between the force and the community by assisting in meeting policing needs and helping to increase the level of confidence and satisfaction that the public has in relation to policing.
What do they do?
Special Constables are usually attached to Neighbourhood Policing Teams where they perform a wide variety of duties within the community.
This includes patrol, making arrests and dealing with anti-social behaviour.
Specials may also work at football matches and other public events eg. galas, and concerts, supporting regular officers in times of emergency, and assist with other matters such as crime prevention, taking crime reports, witness interviews, enquiries, escorts, youth diversion and transport.
Joining the specials is an opportunity for personal and professional development.
Undergoing the training and then going out on patrol
Brings excitement and new challenges every day you volunteer.
If you have any questions about becoming a Special Constable, please call West Yorkshire Police on 01924 292269 or http://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/?Page=325|Special+Constables