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Frequently Asked Questions

You're only a Special – you can’t arrest me!

A Special Constable holds the same powers and privileges as a regular officer and is entitled to arrest someone in exactly the same way.

What is the difference between a Special and a PCSO?

PCSOs provide a neighbourhood police presence and play a key role in helping to find solutions to community issues like anti-social behaviour. Specials Constables are volunteers who have exactly the same powers as police officers.

How old do I have to be to become a Special?

Anyone over 18 years can apply to join the Special Constabulary and Bedfordshire Police welcomes all suitable applicants from all walks of life, gender ethnicity and age groups.

Do you only want young people to volunteer as Specials?

No, there is no upper age limit to join the Specials, but you must be able to pass the fitness test. Specials bring valuable life experiences, new skills and fresh perspective into the force and the more varied the backgrounds of our Specials the more diverse our workforce will be.

Do you have to be really fit to join the police?

While you need a good level of fitness, you do not need to be an athlete. We will advise you on the fitness requirements and assist with guidance to enable you to achieve these where necessary.

How much time do I need to volunteer?

Special Constables are asked to commit a minimum of 16 hours a month to the role.  Some Special Constables enjoy it so much that they work more hours than this – some work up to twelve hours on a shift, in line with the colleagues they are teamed up with.

How do you fit volunteering in alongside your job and other regular commitments?

Specials work a variety of shifts – earlies, lates and nights - to fit in with their other life roles. With the nature of police work, there is always something for a Special to do, no matter what the day or time!

Do you have to be tall to join the police?

There are no height restrictions in place for either Special Constables or regular officers.

If you don't have any qualifications, can you join the police?

You don’t need any formal qualifications to join the Special Constabulary, but you do need to be able to stay calm in a crisis, and be able to resolve disputes sensitively and appropriately. We are looking for problem solvers who can treat the public and their colleagues with respect and courtesy.

Do the police allow turbans or other religious clothing?

The police service respects individuals’ religious or cultural needs, including the wearing of turbans whilst on duty. We also try to accommodate other religious clothing.

Do the Police only want to employ white English people?

To be a Special Constable you must be a British citizen, EC/EEA national, Commonwealth Citizen or a foreign national with no restrictions on your stay in the UK and can be from any ethnic background. We also need to verify your personal background for the minimum of three years preceding your application.

We are always keen to welcome people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds to Bedfordshire Police, particularly if you have specific cultural knowledge or language skills.

Can I apply if I have any previous convictions or cautions?

Yes, each application will be judged on a case by case basis, but it is advisable to disclose as much information as possible.

What do you get to do as a Special?

As a Special Constable, you will do everything on shift that a regular police officer would do. Specials assist with everything from helping to keep our town centres safe during busy weekend periods, to policing major events like Luton Carnival.

How can you progress as a Special?

There is a full rank structure in place in the Special Constabulary. Becoming a Special opens up a world of opportunities, and you can move into specialist areas like Roads Policing, Roads Policing Unit, Dog Handling, Football Unit and Airport Unit. One of our Specials is the first Special in the country to have trained as a dog handler, and he now volunteers with Charlie, the three year old black Labrador, detecting explosives.

What about my medical history and my eyesight?

If you are successful at our Assessment Centre, you should disclose any medical information to the Occupational Health team, which will be able to offer recommendations and advice. It’s recommended that you disclose as much information as possible.

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