Special Constables are volunteer police officers who come from all walks of life, bringing a vast range of skills and experience. They join from a huge variety of professions, including teachers, GPs, project managers, directors, retailers and just about any profession you can think of.
Specials are a vital and valued part of the Constabulary, with the same uniform and powers of arrest as Police Officers. Working on emergency response, duties could include providing a police presence in town centres on Friday nights, dealing with domestic violence incidents, helping people who are going through a mental health crisis, and giving evidence in court. Volunteers must commit to 16 hours a month, and it’s a 24/7 service, so flexibility is key. Specials may get some paid time off to volunteer if the company they work for is part of the Employer Supported Policing (ESP), a national Home Office scheme which partners employers with the police service.
It takes dedication to sacrifice personal time for a challenging, unpaid role, however being a Special is extremely rewarding. There are fantastic opportunities to build on existing skills and develop new ones, and whilst it isn’t a direct route to becoming a paid police officer, Specials receive the same standard of training as a regular police officer and can progress through the rank system. Of course, the best reward of all is making difference to the community, helping to keep people safe and feeling safe.
Support for Underrepresented Groups
We offer support (Positive Action) for underrepresented groups (black and minority ethnicities, gay/lesbian/bisexual and transgender) by providing advice and guidance before and during the selection process. See our Positive Action section at the bottom of the page for full information.
Special Inspector Sonya Boden says volunteering for Lancashire Police is the best thing she’s ever done. Currently working on Incident Response, Sonya joined the constabulary as a Special Constable over 13 years ago as an alternative to joining as a PC. She explained: “I had always wanted to be a police officer and applied when I was 21. Rules at the time meant I wasn’t tall enough for Lancashire so applied for GMP but was unsuccessful, so I continued my career in the Civil Service.”
Two years later, Sonya got married and had children. Then after divorcing in her late 30s she re-evaluated her life and still wanted to be a PC, but couldn’t join the service full-time with children to care for. So Sonya found an alternative way to fulfil her ambition through volunteering alongside her main role as a Visiting Officer for the Department of Work and Pensions. She said: “Becoming a Special has enabled me to give something back to the community, which also fulfilled my need to be a Police Officer, but in a way that would fit in with my work and home life.”
I enjoy helping victims of crime and making a difference in my community. My employers are registered to the Employer Supported Policing (ESP) scheme and are really supportive to me and actively encourage volunteering. I have developed within this role and I am now a Special Inspector. The skills I’ve learnt throughout my time as a Special have helped me in my workplace. I visit the vulnerable – be it elderly, drug or alcohol dependant, or with mental health or with other disabilities. I don’t always know how the person I am visiting is going to be, and I attend alone. However, being a Special has given me more confidence in dealing with confrontation in a customer’s home compared with my colleagues. To anyone considering applying to be a Special, I’d say just go for it. It’s great for building your confidence and is really rewarding.
Special Sergeant Jake Brown embarked on the Specials process just as he was finishing university, beginning his training in July 2016 after deciding to settle in Lancashire, and got his warrant card in October that year. He recalled: “My first shift was a response shift on Bonfire Night, I still remember the first blue light call I went to.”
Now Jake oversees a team of six Specials, supporting them to complete their probation periods, and with welfare, training and development issues. Jake also works, with supervision, to develop tasking for the Specials, organising events such as the University Freshers’ Week and traffic checkpoints.
In between all this, he has policing duties on response and with neighbourhood teams. Jake’s main job in the education sector takes him all over the North West organising activities and events for young people at university but he’s discovered the Specials’ flexible shifts work well around his day job: “I’ve never found it a challenge to complete my hours in a month, I often enjoy it so much I do way more than I ever expected to.”
Working at weekend and evenings also has the benefit of these being the busier shifts for the police, and therefore they are much more exciting and enjoyable to work as a Special and we really add benefit to the team.
Special Constable Philip Curwen volunteers for Lancashire Police alongside his full-time position with us as a Restorative Justice Mediator and Coordinator. Driven by a strong sense of duty to his local community, Phil became a Special to give something back whilst enhancing his understanding of modern, frontline policing and developing in his main job.
He helps to balance his two roles through the Home Office’s Employer Supported Policing (ESP) scheme, whereby organisations support employees to be Special Constables or Police Support Volunteers, for example by providing paid leave for police duties or training. However he still has to be well organised to juggle his commitments. Phil said: “I run a tight diary and plan well in advance, but allow some slack to take up any operations that come in at the last minute, which provides that extra support to the frontline officer force.”
Phil wears his Lancashire Police uniform with pride and finds offering support and guidance to people in difficult times rewarding. He enjoys being an integral part of a service helping the local community: “You build up a solid camaraderie with your fellow trainees which continues out on the frontline. We have each other’s backs and best interests at heart.”
Age is no barrier to joining the Specials. As a mature officer I find I can add an extra dimension – the general public seems to appreciate an older officer’s wisdom. The training period is excellent and comprehensive and there are many ongoing training opportunities to develop your policing and life skills. You’re provided with all the support you need to make you an effective, efficient support officer to the frontline regulars. You’ll need lots of resilience, patience and good listening skills, along with a solid interest in people and the community you serve in. it is an extremely rewarding opportunity – you’ve nothing to lose but a lot to gain!
Special Inspector Charlotte Buffey joined Lancashire Constabulary in January 2017 whilst she was still at sixth form and became Inspector for Burnley just over two years later.
She said: “I turned 18 in February 2016 so I just made the age for the application and I was so excited! I wanted to become a Special Constable to give back to my community, learn new skills and get an insight into what being a police officer was like.
Charlotte volunteers alongside her main job as a Material Laboratories Degree Apprentice, which means she works full-time whilst also completing a Materials Engineering degree part-time. She thought she would struggle to manage it all at first, but said: “Working shifts allows me to do my Special duties in the evening as well as on the weekends. I don’t feel like it is a chore to fit in – I find it easy to make time to do something I enjoy and find so rewarding. I really can’t see my week without being a Special in it now.”
You feel like part of the policing family. You work alongside Police Constables and you form great working relationships. Being a Special can really open your eyes to what happens in the communities around us and it’s great that I can play my part to help. Being a Special is so varied, every shift can be completely different. I would advise anyone considering applying to become a Special to just go for it, ask as many questions as you need. You can never be too young (well 18) or too old to join. It’s a very rewarding experience, and if you want to give back to your community and you have spare time on your hands then it is something to consider.
When applications are open, you are able to complete and submit your form online. You should look to include as much relevant experience, knowledge and skills as you can within the space provided. Where possible, you should do this using examples of where you have carried out similar responsibilities in your work. If you are unable to provide work examples, you may use instances from other aspects of your life, but be sure to keep them relevant. Try also to use only fairly recent examples, avoiding anything that seems old or outdated.
Simply referring to your skills and experience isn’t always enough. Remember that the assessor does not know you or your capabilities, or how effectively you may perform on a daily basis. All they have to go on is what you say in your application. You therefore need to make sure you really sell yourself, taking every opportunity to fill in any potential gaps in the assessor’s picture of you.
If you find that you don’t have specific examples that will highlight your ability to do the job, do all you can to link the experience that you do have with the role you are applying for. You might also use other examples to indicate your willingness and ability to learn new skills or refresh old ones.
Make sure you read the application form carefully and provide full answers to all the questions. Sell yourself.
The best way to structure your answers and to demonstrate clearly how you meet the criteria is by following the STAR format.
Set the scene
When and what is the example about? What was the scenario situation that you faced?
What did you identify needed to be done? What were you tasked to do? What was your role?
Action / approach
What did you do? Why? Were there options? Why did you select that particular course of action?
How did it go? Was it successful? Why? With hindsight, would you have done things differently?
If your example relates to a specific individual, please retain their anonymity to ensure compliance with data protection.
You can find lots of information and examples on the internet about how to structure a STAR answer for an application form.
Once we receive your completed form, we will check it against our standard recruitment criteria – e.g. convictions and nationality. If you are eligible to work for Lancashire Constabulary, your application will move on to the next stage.
Following the initial sift your application will be assessed by the department to which you are applying. They will check and score your evidence against the criteria as detailed on the candidate specification. If your application is unsuccessful at this stage, we will contact you by email to let you know.
The National Assessment Centre will take place online. There is a huge amount of information on the College of Policing website which can help you understand more about this process. We will inform you of everything you need to know before the assessment takes place so you will be fully prepared.
At this stage you will be invited to attend an interview. This could be face to face or online via Skype.
If your application passes the initial stages we will contact you to arrange an interview. The interview questions will be based around the same criteria as detailed on the candidate specification and will seek to find out how you would perform in the job in question. We would also suggest visiting other section of our website for information on our values and force priorities.
If you are successful at interview, we will send you a conditional offer of employment together with details of the next steps. This offer will be subject to security, health and reference checks.
A Health Declaration form will be sent to you for completion which our Health Services team will screen. It is imperative that you complete the form accurately and do not withhold any information. In some cases they may need further information (for example from GPs or specialists) and you will be medically pended while this is being obtained. The Equality Act 2010 covers all positions in Lancashire Constabulary . If you have a disability, adjustments will be made if it is reasonable to do so.
During this process you will be required to undertake a Substance Misuse Test and for some specific roles you also have to provide a DNA sample (mouth swab) and have your fingerprints taken.
If you are successful at interview, we will send you a conditional offer of employment together with details of the next steps. This offer will be subject to security, health and reference checks.
Police officers encounter stressful situations, trauma, physical confrontation and work long hours on shifts. You’ll need to be resilient enough to cope with the demands and pressures of police working and be in good health mentally and physically.
After passing the recruitment stages, you’ll need to complete a medical questionnaire and get it signed by your doctor. You’ll then have a medical examination to ensure you meet our BMI and health standards.
Your BMI must be between 18 and 30. You’ll also be asked to provide a urine sample whilst at your appointment, which we’ll test for illegal substances.
We follow the Government’s guidance on police health officer requirements. You can find out more about these and check the list of specific health conditions.
After your medical appointment, you will also be required to have your fingerprints scanned and a DNA sample (mouth swab) taken to check against the national police database.
You must have:
Corrected distance vision of 6/12 or better with either the right eye or left eye.
6/6 vision with both eyes together with spectacles or contact lenses if worn.
Corrected near visual acuity of 6/9 or better, with both eyes.
You’ll need to go to an optician at the medical stage to have your eyes tested and this will be checked at your medical assessment. If you don’t pass the test we’ll be unable to take your application any further. Please note that these are minimum standards and do not guarantee entry into specialist roles.
Information about colour blindness
If your colour blindness is monochrome, you won’t be able to apply. However, mild anomalous trichromacy is acceptable.
Fitness – When it’s time to complete your fitness test we’ll invite you to our headquarters at Hutton, Preston.
Use the information below to help you to prepare for the fitness test. If you’re new to fitness training or are a beginner we recommend that you seek medical advice prior to commencing any exercise programme.
The test we use is the multi-stage endurance test (also known as the bleep test, shuttle run or pacer test). It’s a well-recognised test that gives a clear understanding of fitness level and one that you can practice prior to the assessment to give yourself the best possible chance of success.
If you don’t reach the required level, you won’t be able to proceed to the next stage. But, our assessor may give you the opportunity to try again.
If, after three attempts you haven’t been able to pass then you’ll need to wait 6 months before re-applying.
The fitness test is part of police life. You’ll retake it as part of your training and also take the test every year to ensure you’re maintaining a suitable level of fitness for a service officer.
The multi-stage endurance fitness test is one of the most widely used tests of endurance. It’s also easy to prepare for as all you’ll need is a flat level surface that’s 15 metres long and you can use our training recording or look on iTunes or Google Play for a bleep test training app. If using an app for your practice, ensure it is for 15 metres as some are for 20 metre runs.
What to Expect at the Bleep Test
The test involves running back and forth in a straight line continuously along a 15 metre track. Every time you reach the edge you’ll place your foot on the line and turn, ready for the next bleep when you’ll set off again.
The test is progressive in that the bleeps start off slowly but become closer together so as the test progresses you’ll need to run faster to reach the edge before the next bleep.
The first running speed is ‘level 1’, the second is ‘level 2’ and so on. Each level lasts around 50 seconds, but the number of shuttles at each level increases as the test progresses.
At the end of each level you’ll hear a double bleep and the fitness tester will announce that you’re starting a new level. You’ll need to reach a ‘level 5.4’ rating to pass the test.
You’ll need to meet the following:
Aged 17 or above on the day you apply and must be aged 18 or over upon appointment (we don’t have an upper age limit and value the life experience that career changers bring).
- Not be a member of the British National Party (BNP) or other organisations such as Combat 18 or The National Front.
- If you have a criminal record, this doesn’t mean you won’t be considered. This depends on the nature of your conviction. Please declare any cautions or convictions on your application form. If you don’t you’ll fail vetting due to integrity concerns.
- You must not be registered bankrupt with outstanding debts, have outstanding County Court Judgements (CCJs) against you, or be subject to a current Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA).
- Tattoos which are offensive, garish, prominent or numerous are not acceptable. Please supply photos and measurements of any tattoos along with your application.
- You can re-attend our National Assessment Centre (NAC) if you failed the NAC within the last 3 months providing you were within 5% of the pass mark. Otherwise you will need to wait 6 months between taking the NAC.
- Residency – You must;
Be a British Citizen, or hold a passport from a full EU Member State. You can also apply if you are a Commonwealth citizen or foreign national who is resident in the UK with indefinite leave to remain.
- You must have lived in the UK for three continuous years, immediately before applying. This is because we need to vet all applicants equally. To do this we need to ensure applicants have a checkable history in the UK. Applicants who cannot be vetted cannot be appointed.
If you live permanently in the UK, you are considered to be a UK resident.
If you have moved overseas and severed major ties to the UK (e.g. closed bank accounts and sold property) you are considered to have surrendered your residency in the UK. This applies to people who maintain bank accounts purely for the purpose of receiving regular payments, e.g. a UK pension.
If you have:
Spent a significant period of time overseas without returning to the UK but with the intention of returning in the future, taken a gap year or similar before or following university, travelled for a year or spent time overseas visiting family then we may be able to consider you. We will need you to provide full details and will consider each case on its own merits. This list is not exhaustive and is a guide only.
If you have been posted overseas as part of your service with HMG or the armed forces you are considered to have been resident in the UK for the period that you were abroad.
If you have been overseas as the spouse, partner or dependent of a member of the armed forces posted overseas then it may be possible to obtain the necessary assurance for us to establish a checkable history. We will consider each case on its merits. The same principle applies to any family members who were also resident overseas as part of an overseas posting, tour of duty or military deployment.
If you have convictions or cautions this doesn’t necessarily mean that we won’t be able to appoint you. It depends on the role you’ve applied for and the nature of the offence.
Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 all police staff applicants have to declare previous convictions and cautions which would ordinarily be considered ‘spent’.
However, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exemptions) Order 1975, provides that if you’re applying for a police staff role you do NOT have to declare any information in relation to a PROTECTED caution or a PROTECTED conviction.
A protected conviction is one where ALL the following applies:
- It is not for a ‘listed offence’* under Article 2A(5) of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975
- No custodial sentence was imposed
- The individual has not been convicted of any other offence at any time
- 11 years or more have passed since the conviction, if the individual was aged 18 or over at the time of conviction, or 51/2 years or more have passed since the conviction, if the individual was under 18 at the time of the conviction.
A protected caution is one where ALL the following applies:
- It is not for a ‘listed offence’* under Article 2A(5) of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975;
- 6 years or more have passed since the caution, if the individual was aged 18 years or over at the time the caution was given, or 2 years or more have passed since the caution, if the individual was under 18 at the time the caution was given.
* Listed offences include serious, violent and sexual offences and offences which are of specific relevance to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults, and will never be filtered or protected. There is a list of offences which will never be filtered or protected here:
As an applicant, you are responsible for understanding if you have a protected caution or conviction and to complete the vetting form correctly. If in doubt, contact our vetting unit for advice.
Lancashire Constabulary apply the criminal convictions guidance contained in the College of Policing Vetting Code of Practice and associated Authorised Professional Practice (APP) to all police staff applications. We need to reject your application if you:
- have offences that were committed as an adult or juvenile which resulted in a prison sentence (including custodial, suspended or deferred sentence and sentences served at a young offenders’ institution or community home); or
- are a registered sex offender or are subject to a registration requirement in respect of any other conviction.
For all other convictions or cautions we’ll need to reject your application if you have offences where any of the following apply:
- Vulnerable people were targeted
- The offences were motivated by hate or discrimination
- The offences are of a domestic abuse nature
We take particular care where an applicant has been convicted of (or cautioned for) offences of dishonesty, corrupt practice or violence.
We consider each case on its own merits and, whilst you should presume convictions, cautions or other sanctions will lead to your application being rejected, there may be cases where this will not be the case.
There may also be circumstances where you don’t fall within the criteria, but your suspected involvement in crime, or criminal associations make an offer of employment inappropriate.
We run a credit reference check on all applicants. Police staff have access to privileged and highly sensitive information, which may make them vulnerable to corruption, so it’s important for us to understand applicants’ financial situation. Applicants to the police service should normally be free from serious debt or liability and be able to manage existing loans. We place our emphasis on managing debt sensibly.
If you have existing County Court Judgements outstanding or have been registered as bankrupt and have not discharged your bankruptcy we’ll be unable to consider your application. If you have been registered as bankrupt and have discharged their bankruptcy debts you won’t be considered until three years after your discharge of the debt. Debt Relief orders (DRO) are treated in the same way as a bankruptcy.
We will consider your application carefully if a credit reference check reveals you have a current individual voluntary arrangement (IVA). We don’t make clearance decisions until we’ve seen evidence that you’ve maintained regular IVA repayments over a number of months. The same principle applies where you have defaulted on accounts.
If you can show you have and are adhering to debt management arrangements you may be considered. We’ll need to see documentary evidence to demonstrate your commitment and adherence to any debt management arrangements and will consider each case on its own merits.
After all of the above has taken place you will be given a formal offer of employment and you discuss start dates for your exciting new career!