Special Constables (‘Specials’) are volunteer police officers, who give at least 16 hours per month for policing duties. They wear the same uniform, have the same powers and perform the same role as our full-time police officers, but do so on a part-time basis.
We have 300 Special Constables (‘Specials’) based at all our police stations across England, Scotland and Wales. Working alongside full-time officers, our Specials help deal with offenders, support victims of crime and vulnerable people, undertake patrols and help keep our networks safe and secure.
The shift pattern is flexible depending on your availability and can fit around your work, family or educational commitments. Some employers also help their staff to be Specials by giving them time off for duties under the Employer Supported Policing Scheme.
Specials bring to the force additional resilience and a reserve of additional police officers to help us provide a service to our communities as well as skills and knowledge from outside the police service which we really value. Those volunteering to be a Special with us will benefit from training in law, police procedure, first aid, personal safety and railway track safety. You will gain increased self-confidence, additional skills and knowledge for your personal development and have the opportunity to make a difference in the community.
For more experienced Specials, we offer a range of development opportunities including leadership roles and getting engaged in more specialist areas of policing. For those looking to become regular police officers, joining the Special Constabulary gives an excellent insight into the force and the role to help you decide if you would like a new full-time career. We then offer an internal route through for suitably qualified Special Constables wishing to become Police Constables. However, the role is not just for those looking to become full-time police officers in future but can also be a rewarding volunteer opportunity over the longer-term in itself.
Training and recruitment
Basic training courses involve a mixture of online theory and in-person practical based training. This takes place in London for officers joining our police posts across England and Wales and in Glasgow for those joining our police posts across Scotland. The phase one training is over 24 days in person with additional virtual sessions in addition. We usually offer five training courses per year in England and Wales (including one weekday only course and four courses involving one block of six days training and nine weekends) and one course every two years in Scotland (involving one block of six days training and nine weekends). Accommodation is provided for those who cannot commute on a daily basis to the training and travel and meal expenses are covered.
A reduced training course is available for experienced officers wishing to join us on transfer from territorial police forces across the UK.
If you’d like to join us as a Special, you can see current vacancies and find further information here. The recruitment process involves initial recruitment tests (on basic English and Maths competency), a competency-based interview, a fitness test and a medical. Further details are on the BTP careers website.
Our Specials work closely alongside regular police officers as an integral part of our policing family. However, to ensure an understanding of Specials at all levels of the force, and dedicated support for the leadership, support and development of the team, like many forces we have a leadership structure in the BTP Special Constabulary.
The leadership structure comprises Special Sergeants (police station level), Special Inspectors (sub-divisional level), Special Chief Inspectors (divisional level), a Special Superintendent and a Special Chief Officer (force level). Promotion is on the basis of passing an exam of the law and police procedure and competency-based interviews.
The current Special Chief Officer is Dr Ben Clifford BEM.
Meet some of our Special Officers
Our Specials come from, and we are keen to support and welcome volunteer police officers from a diverse range of backgrounds. Here you can meet three of our existing Specials discuss the role.