5 years sees Specials strength fall by a third

Ian Miller, Chair of the Association of Special Constabulary Officers, told BBC News that Special Constables who join the regular constabulary were “not being replaced”

West Midlands Police saw its Special Constabulary strength decrease by over two-thirds in a five-year period from 2012 to 2017, with Merseyside also losing a similar number.

The Metropolitan Police Service reported a loss of 52% of its Special Constabulary strength after a significant recruitment campaign in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. A spokeswoman told The BBC that numbers have fallen due to the “natural life cycle” of volunteers, with many joining the regular service.

See more at Picture credit: Greater Manchester Police.

Taser and Special Constables

The Home Secretary is announcing today that Special Constables will be authorised to use Taser. 

ASCO welcomes this. Special Constables serve on the front-line, hold all the powers of a Warranted Constable and to the public are indistinguishable from our paid, regular officer colleagues. We face the same threats and we attend the same incidents where we need to be suitably equipped to protect members of the public from serious harm. The nature of our volunteer service means that many of us are more exposed to high risk and violent incidents, due to our volunteer hours typically being at times of peak demand.  

The work at national level to reach this point has taken a long time, we believe frankly it has taken too long. ASCO has participated in this work throughout the drawn out process and has championed the views of a majority of Special Constables who are supportive of Taser deployment, provided the right training and support arrangements are in place. We are delighted we have now reached this point today. 

David Pedrick-Friend, Chair of ASCO said  

“Special Constables are generally deployed in forward facing operational roles at peak times of demand during weekends and evenings.  

That is because as volunteer police officers those are the times they have availability outside of their regular paid employments to volunteer as Special Constables. This means that Special Constables often are regularly exposed to high levels of conflict, trauma and highly emotive situations and need the resources available to keep themselves and the public safe. We have been working very hard over a number of years often in the face of great resistance and obstruction to argue that Special Constables should, where operational need exists, be able to carry Taser for their own and others safety. I am pleased that this has finally been achieved”. 

The licencing of Taser for Special Constables will be under clear national guidance, and the training on Taser received by Special Constables will be exactly the same standards as for regular police officers. 

Decisions on deployment are a matter for each local Chief Constable. Arrangements for their Special Constables to be trained and equipped with Taser will therefore now be taken individually by each local police force. It is anticipated that a large proportion of forces will progress relatively quickly towards some of their Special Constables being deployed with Taser. 

Authorisation for Special Constables to use Taser is not linked to other discussions and developments relating to representation. 

ASCO is here to support all Special Constables. Membership is free to all serving SCs join us today 

Celebrities become Specials in upcoming Channel 4 show

A new show Famous and Fighting Crime premiers on Monday, and will see well-known celebrity faces train to become serving members of the Special Constabulary.

The format will see the celebrities paired with serving regular constables completing shifts from Public Order and rowdy bus shifts, to custody and burglary deterrent shifts.

Lee McMurray, Commissioning Editor at Channel 4 Formats, said the “great cast of familiar faces” would “make for a fantastic Channel 4 series that will have broad appeal” as well as giving “fascinating insights into contemporary Britain”.

Special Constables, or Specials, are warranted police officers with all the powers of their regular colleagues – wearing the same uniform, carrying the same kit, and even driving the same vehicles if permitted to do so by their force. Specials perform their duties on a voluntary basis and receive no payment for doing so, although some forces may provide benefits to their officers.

The first of four episodes premiers Monday, 11th February at 9pm on Channel 4, with Jamie Laing, Sandi Bogle, Penny Lancaster, Marcus Brigstocke and Katie Piper all joining the Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

Picture credit: Channel 4.