The Special Constable role
Interested in being a Special Constable and joining our team? You can play a crucial role in helping us to deliver the policing priorities for South Wales.
Becoming a Special Constable is a rewarding and enjoyable experience in which volunteers are made to feel needed, valued and developed. 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. If you can commit to at least 16 hours a month, bring integrity and common sense to everything you do and stay calm under pressure, we want to hear from you. The diversity and varied experiences of the Special Constabulary helps the police service to represent the communities they serve.
As volunteer Police Officers, Special Constables have full police powers, uniform and equipment and work alongside full-time Police Officers and PCSOs to keep South Wales safe. You will be trained to use the same powers as full-time police constables – there will be a lot for you to learn.
We have a strong commitment to equality and diversity both within the organisation and in the service we provide. Our aim is to promote and achieve a fully inclusive workforce to reflect the communities we serve. South Wales Police particularly welcomes applicants from under-represented groups.
South Wales Police is proud to work under a positive action initiative to support those from under-represented groups. If you are from a diverse background and have an interest in joining us please contact our Representative Workforce Team.
South Wales Police is the largest police force in Wales and although geographically small, covering around 812 square miles and equating to just 10% of the geographical area of Wales, South Wales Police provides a policing service to 1.3 million people (42% of the country’s population).
South Wales is a diverse region, boasting urban, rural and coastal areas and featuring the two largest cities in Wales – Swansea and the capital city, Cardiff. The force also serves 63 of the 100 most deprived communities in Wales.
The force has almost 3000 police officers and over 2200 police staff, including Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and a team of dedicated volunteers that includes over 200 Special Constables and around 200 Police Youth Volunteers. We are committed to developing our staff and providing them with the best support and resources to enable them to effectively support our local communities.
As a force we are investing heavily in the latest technology and the welfare of staff and officers. South Wales Police have been at the heart of many major events - the Champion’s League, NATO and the Olympics are just some of the events that we’ve hosted here in South Wales in recent times.
Join and help us be the best at understanding and responding to our communities’ needs.
Once successful in your application you will complete a part time initial training programme which covers classroom based teaching, practical training and distance learning. After this you will begin to carry out your role as a special constable, working alongside an experienced police officer or special constable until you are ready to work independently. You will be expected to commit at least 16 hours a month for the rest of your service.
During your service you will deal with a varied range of incidents. There will be times when you will experience confrontation; you will arrest suspects and attend often distressing events, but it won’t be all blue lights and car chases.
You will be there for people in times of need, there will be occasions when you don’t finish your shift on time and when it feels like all you do is complete paperwork. But if you have the drive to make a difference in your community you will get a great deal out of working alongside full-time officers to make South Wales safer.
The application process
The guidelines for joining the Special Constabulary are pretty much the same as that for a regular police officer.
We encourage people from all backgrounds to join the organisation. Some occupations are considered incompatible with becoming a Special Constable however, for example, if you are a member of the armed forces, a door-person or working for a security organisation.
For further information please view the NPIA Circular 01/2011
You must be at least 18 years old to become a Special Constable. There is no upper age limit, but bear in mind that candidates must be able to satisfy the fitness, medical and eyesight requirements of the role.
Cautions and Convictions
You may still be eligible to join the police service if you have minor convictions/cautions, but there are certain offences and conditions that will make you ineligible. You MUST declare all convictions for past offences, formal cautions (including as a juvenile) and any bind-over imposed by the courts. You should also include all traffic convictions. Due to the nature of policing, it’s essential that we conduct rigorous vetting checks on successful applicants before they can join the program.
You must be a British Citizen, citizen from the European Economic Area (EEA), Commonwealth citizen or foreign national with no restrictions on your stay in the United Kingdom. You must also have been continually resident in the UK for the three year period immediately before an application is made. This is to satisfy the requirement to vet all applicants in an equitable manner and the UK Police service does not currently have any means of facilitating vetting checks overseas, to the extent required of those who have been resident in the UK. Applicants who cannot be vetted, cannot be appointed.
All applicants will have their financial status checked. These checks are carried out because Special Constables have access to privileged information, which may make them vulnerable to corruption. Any applicants with outstanding County Court judgements, who have been registered bankrupt with outstanding debts, will be rejected. If you have discharged bankruptcy debts then you will need to provide a Certificate of Satisfaction with your application. Applicants who are the subject of a current Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) will not be considered.
Applicants must be in good health mentally and physically to deal with the pressures and demands of the role. Successful applicants who receive a conditional offer of appointment will then be asked prior to appointment to fill in a medical questionnaire and undertake a medical examination which will also include an eyesight test and BMI check (Body Mass Index).
The current Home Office circular 59/2004 outlines this as between 18 and 30.
Applicants who do not meet this standard may find their application delayed and / or will not be appointed. Special constable applicants with a BMI in excess of this will not be considered fit unless their body fat percentage is less than 30% for men or 36% for women. Failure to meet the medical and eyesight standards will mean you cannot be appointed. For eyesight requirements please refer to FAQs.
If you have a disability, we will make adjustments where it is reasonable to do so.
There are no minimum or maximum height requirements.
You must be physically fit in order to effectively complete the duties required of a Special Constable. All applicants must pass a basic fitness test before appointment. For the endurance test you will be asked to run back and forth a 15 metre track in time with a series of bleeps, in time the bleeps become increasingly faster you must achieve level 5.4.
South Wales Police has a policy of prohibiting any of our officers or staff from being members of the BNP, or a similar organisation whose aims, objectives or pronouncements may contradict the duty to promote race equality. If you are, or have previously been a member of the BNP or a similar organisation, your application will be rejected.
You must have achieved a level 3 qualification (A level or equivalent) or successfully completed the online verbal reasoning and calculation assessment. Please note that your relevant qualification certificate must be uploaded at the same time as you submit your application. If you are not in possession of a valid certificate, at the time of submission, you will be unable to apply.
Candidates with visible tattoos may be eligible for appointment. Each case will be considered on its own merits, taking into account the number, nature, size, prominence, appearance and location of the tattoos. Tattoos must not be offensive to colleagues or members of the public or undermine the dignity of your role within the Force. Tattoos on the neck, face or hands are still deemed to be unacceptable but consideration may be given in some circumstances considering the size, nature and prominence of the tattoo. If candidates choose to have any additional tattoos during the recruitment process, after passing eligibility checks, the onus is on them to advise HR and provide appropriate photographs which will need to be checked.
The online application is the first stage of the recruitment process. You will complete a number of online tests and provide information which will assist us in determining your eligibility.
The answers you provide will determine whether you are likely to have the skills and abilities necessary to become a good Special Constable. If successful, you will be invited to the next stage of recruitment – the interview.
Proof of Qualification
You will be required to upload and attach your relevant Degree or Level 3 or equivalent Certificate before you submit your application. If you do not have a copy of this you will need to obtain one from the appropriate educational establishment.
If your Degree (or Level 3 qualification) was achieved outside of the UK, you must achieve ratification from a Higher Education Establishment within the UK to evidence your qualification is recognised at Degree standard (or level 3 standard).
Your interview will be based on the competencies contained within the role profile which was attached to the advert.
Use examples from your work, social, domestic or educational life to answer the interview questions. In these examples, we are looking for evidence of specific behaviours which research has shown to be essential to police work.
Be specific: we want to know what YOU said or did on a given occasion to deal with the situation. It’s therefore important that the examples you provide are your own experiences and as detailed as possible.
Try to use examples that you found difficult or challenging to deal with. These answers tend to achieve better marks.
We expect your answers to be relevant and focused. Please refrain from the use of jargon and slang as this is unacceptable.
Don’t leave it until the last minute to research the competencies required within the role profile and also the South Wales Police website.
Policing can occasionally be physically demanding, so you will need to be in fairly good physical condition to pass the fitness test. The test will basically measure whether your fitness levels are high enough. For the endurance test, you will be asked to run back and forth a 15 metre track in time with a series of bleeps. As the test goes on, the bleeps become increasingly faster to level 5.4.
You will also be required to attend a pre-appointment fitness test approximately prior to the anticipated appointment date and you must pass this to progress your application.
Due to the nature of police work, good health and fitness is paramount. However, applications are welcome from people with disabilities and every effort will be made to make reasonable adjustments if required. If you are successful at the interview stage you will undertake a medical examination.
There are certain medical conditions and disorders that may have a detrimental effect on your ability to conduct the role effectively; each case will be considered carefully as part of the medical process.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Your weight range will be assessed during your medical assessment. The healthy weight range is based on a measurement known as your body mass index (BMI). This can be determined if you know your weight and your height. The actual calculation is your weight (in kilograms) divided by your height (in metres squared). Guidance and easy to use charts on how to calculate your BMI can be found on the NHS website.
The NHS advises that a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 suggests a normal healthy weight. This means your body is not at risk of weight-related disease.
BMI standards for Special Constables are set by the Home Office. The current Home Office circular 59/2004 outlines this as between 18 and 30. Applicants who do not meet this standard may find their application delayed and / or will not be appointed.
Inaccuracies in BMI can occur if you are athletic or very muscular as this can give you a higher BMI even if you have a healthy level of body fat. In these cases, as part of the recruitment process, we will be able to provide a simple test to assess the percentage of your body fat.
Vetting and references
References are required to cover a minimum of 3 years of continuous employment history. If you have not been in employment for 3 years we will look to obtain education and personal references.
Drugs test and biometric vetting
You will also be asked to undertake a drugs test and provide information about any medication you may be taking. Legislation has been introduced that requires applicants to undergo biometric vetting.
On the day we will be asking you to sign a consent form to take your fingerprints and a sample of your DNA for the purposes of a speculative search and for your fingerprints and DNA profile to be retained on the Police Elimination Database (PEDb).
The purpose of obtaining fingerprints and DNA samples is to allow for a speculative search to be made against the local and national databases prior to your appointment to the police force. This is to ensure that you have not previously come to adverse police attention, which you have not informed us of, and also that you are not linked to any outstanding crime scenes.
If you are successfully recruited, you will attend formal training. Course details will be confirmed prior to your commencement date and will involve some evening and occasional weekend training.
In the training you will gain a good understanding of the many aspects of policing. You will learn about:
- The police service and the duties of a police officer
- Powers of arrest
- Common crimes
- How to prepare your evidence for court
- Self-defence techniques
- Emergency First Aid