We know there’s lots of questions that you probably have before you make your decision about whether volunteering is for you, so have a read of the below FAQs to help you understand more about our Special Constabulary.

How much time do I need to volunteer?

Once you have completed your training, you are asked to commit a minimum of 16 hours a month to the role, and can work with the team you are based with to fit this into your lifestyle. Some Special Constables enjoy it so much that they work more hours than this, but ultimately it’s very flexible to you regarding days and hours.

The training schedule spread across approximately five months, with sessions on weeknights and weekdays. Once you’ve been offered a position as a Special Constable you will receive your training schedule with the set dates and hours of the training.

What training and equipment will I be given?

Training takes around 11 weeks totalling around 210 hours, which is spread across a period of up to five months. The training will teach you everything from law to the code of ethics, and includes eight days of personal safety training.

You will be given all the uniform and equipment you needs as a police officer, including all personal safety equipment, and you will receive an annual allowance for boots.

Do I have to pay for anything?

We’re really grateful for the time you’re committing to volunteer with us. All your uniform and equipment will be provided by us, and you will receive an annual allowance for boots.

As a Special Constable you will also be able to claim expenses for travel and refreshments when you’re on shift.

How long is the application process?

We aren’t going to lie – applying to join us is a fairly long and challenging process compared to other volunteering roles.

As you’re applying to a police force, there’s additional steps like assessments and vetting in our application and selection process.

It is important for us to be transparent with you and make you aware that the process can take several months to complete but we are committed to keeping you updated at every stage.

Can I choose the location and department that I work in?

All Special Constable will spend their first year on a local neighbourhood team, but there are then opportunities to work in other departments such as Force Response, Roads Policing and Operations.

When looking into the area you will be based we will take into consideration where you live and other factors such as if you can drive.

What policing powers do Specials have?

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 constable 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 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 West Midlands 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 not at all. There is no upper age limit to join to be a Special Constable, but you must be able to pass the fitness test. We appreciate that 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 I 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.

Do I need to have a driving license to be a Special Constable?

No, you do not require a driving licence to be a Special Constable.

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

Specials can work a variety of shifts, from earlies, lates and nights across seven days a week 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 me to wear articles of faith?

The police service respects individuals’ religious or cultural needs, including the wearing of articles of faith such as turbans or a hijab whilst on duty. 

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.

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, Force Response and Operations.

What about my medical history and my eyesight?

If you are successful, 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.

Does West Midlands Police support Employer Supported Policing and what is it?

Employer Supported Policing (ESP) is a national scheme owned by the Home Office. It is a partnership benefiting employers, their staff and the police service by releasing Special Constables to volunteer in the communities they serve.

How can my organisation be involved?

Organisations are asked to consider releasing their staff that are Special Constables by giving them paid time off to undertake their volunteer police duties and/or training. Once an organisation agrees to give employee volunteering leave, and have completed the Employer Supported Policing registration form, they will become a partner on the scheme. As well as allowing additional paid leave for employees to volunteer, organisations can also promote ESP by actively encouraging staff to volunteer in policing.