Special Constables

Policing WW2 with Special Constables (1940s)
Those police officers that did not enlist for military service were trained in home defence. New types of crime were being experience, such as black market racketeering and looting. Special constables were trained to assist and many received awards for their bravery.
Special Constabulary (1938)
At Hyde Park exhibition ground we see the Duke of Gloucester (Prince Henry) inspecting members of the Metropolitan Special Constabulary. 3,000 members are on parade here. The Duke is accompanied by Sir Walter Allen. After inspection, the Specials swing past the Duke at the saluting base; they are on foot, on horseback and in cars. Crowds of people watch the parade. FILM ID:967.33
Special Constable Service Badges (1914-1918)
World War One; home front. Special Constable stands while a Specials officer pins a service badge on him; a line of others stand behind him; waiting. Then shot panning over scene of specials gathering FILM ID:1870.25 A VIDEO FROM BRITISH PATHÉ. EXPLORE OUR ONLINE CHANNEL, BRITISH PATHÉ TV. IT'S FULL OF GREAT DOCUMENTARIES, FASCINATING INTERVIEWS, AND CLASSIC MOVIES. https://www.britishpathe.tv/
Special Constables' Church Parade (1914-1918)
World War One. Home front; civil defence. Special constables' Church Parade. Specials parade down street. Nice houses in BG. Specials file into gothic arch entry; a boy standing on right FG plays a snare drum as they march in. FILM ID:1878.57
Leeds Special Constables Drilling At Weetwood Park (1914-1918)
General view looking across wide open park at long line of Specials; marching; wearing armbands over suits or coats. They march off to left; followed by more rows. LS across park; various people stand along fence. Closer shot same; panning to left quite a way; then panning back right: people of the community socialising; neighbourhood feel. Recreation. Women; children; some men. People leaning on fence; others stand in small groups talking; shaking hands; etc.; kids hanging out; some of them see the camera. Bicycles; dogs. Flag with 'L.C.P.' stuck in the ground. A good view of regular people ca. 1915; fashions in clothing; etc. (though the skirts are longer here in Yorkshire than down in London!) Trees in BG.
500 Special Constables Receive Freedom Of The City (1920)
Specials Parade (1934)
Lines of Special Constables assembled at the green turf of the moat of Tower of London. Various shots of the police troops leaving the Tower and marching along streets of London - some mounted police seen. Sir Charles Collett, the Lord Mayor of London takes the salute from the balcony of Mansion house. More shots of the police marching. FILM ID:787.11

The Specials

The Special Constabulary is the United Kingdom’s part-time police force. It is made up of volunteer members of the public who when on duty wear a uniform and have full police powers. There are nearly 20,000 Specials serving with police forces across the UK, working in all aspects of policing.

The modern Special Constabulary has been in existence since 1831 when Parliament passed “An act for amending the laws relative to the appointment of Special Constables, and for the better preservation of the Police”. This Special Constables Act 1831 forms the basis of special constable principles up to the modern day.

Special constables are trained volunteers who provide an invaluable link between the police service and the communities that it serves. With the same powers as regular officers, special constables dedicate a portion of their free time to performing a variety of policing duties.

At its core the Special Constabulary represents an embodiment of the principle, first voiced by Sir Robert Peel, that “the police are the public and the public are the police;”

There are currently 14,864 special constables serving throughout the 43 Home Office police forces in England and Wales, providing dedicated support to regular colleagues in the ongoing delivery of an effective policing service to the public.        Collage of Policing


Sussex Police

Volunteers for the Special Constabulary come from all walks of life. You may be at home, bringing up a family, or employed in any one of a wide variety of jobs. The diversity and varied experiences of the Special Constabulary helps the police service to represent the communities they serve.

Special constables have the same powers and much of the same training as full-time officers. Playing a vital role in neighbourhood policing teams, these officers can also train to undertake specialist roles, responding to 999 calls and working in the road policing unit.

Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith

“We have more than 400 special constables working with our regular officers in Sussex. Special constables are an integral part our ‘police family’ giving people the opportunity to get to the heart of the communities we serve.

“Last year, special constables volunteered more than 80,000 hours with us; their professionalism, commitment and enthusiasm are admirable.”

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne.

“Special constables have been involved in policing Sussex since 1831 and are an integral part of policing in the modern world.

“They are a unique and tenacious group of people who give their time for free and bring a wealth of experience and diversity to the Sussex Police workforce.”



Special constables devote a minimum of 16 hours a month, supporting local police teams, gaining new experiences and skills and learning about many aspects of police work. In-depth training is provided covering the police service, the duties of a police officer, powers of arrest and common crimes, how to prepare evidence for court and personal safety.



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