Frequently Asked Questions
You’re only a Special, and you can’t arrest me?
A Special Constable holds the same powers and privileges as a regular officer and is entitled to arrest someone in exactly the same way.
Are the Police are only interested in recruiting young people?
Anyone over 18 years can apply to join the Special Constabulary and West Yorkshire Police welcomes all suitable applicants. There is no upper age limit for applicants.
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.
You can only work full-time?
Special Constables are asked to commit a minimum of 16 hours a month to the role. This will be 2 x 8 hour shifts. Some Special Constables work many more than this and tend to work up to ten hours on a shift, in line with the regular officers they are teamed up with. Specials work a variety of shifts – earlies, lates and nights- 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!
If you don't have any qualifications, you can't join the police?
You don’t need any formal qualifications to join the Special Constabulary, but you do need plenty of common sense, patience, enthusiasm, compassion, commitment and self-motivation.
You have to be tall to join the police?
There are no longer any height restrictions in place for either Special Constables or regular officers.
You have to be really fit to join the police?
While you obviously need a good level of fitness, you do not need to be an athlete. All Specials are required to undertake mandatory fitness testing as part of the application process and then annually from when they finish training. Read our Medical Standards page.
Police do not allow turbans or any other religious clothing?
The police service respects individuals’ religious or cultural needs. Special Constables throughout the country wear turbans whilst on duty and wherever possible, we try to accommodate religious clothing.
Police only want to employ white English people?
To be a Special Constable you must be a British citizen, EC/EEA national, Commonwealth Citizen or a foreign national with no restrictions on your stay in the UK and can be from any ethnic background. We also need to verify your personal background for the minimum of three years preceding your application.
We are very keen to welcome people from our under-represented communities to West Yorkshire Police, particularly if you have specific cultural knowledge or language skills.
Can I apply to be a Police Officer once I am a special?
There is a 2 year tenure in place and a clear expectation that one will fulfil 2 years’ service as a Special Constable ahead of a formal application to join as a Regular Officer.
Under exceptional circumstances, on a case by case basis, the ACC People may choose to consider any minor deviations away from this.
Special Constable Facts - did you know?
- West Yorkshire Police Specials are integrated into virtually every aspect of policing.
- Special Constables do drive police cars at varying levels of competency to be able to respond to public needs, and to do so complete the same driving courses as regular police officers.
- West Yorkshire Police Specials are governed by the same policies and laws as regular officers.
- Special Constables are not paid, but do receive meal and mileage expenses to ensure they are not out of pocket when they turn up to perform a duty.
What are the qualities of a Special Constable? - Could you be a Special Constable?
Applicants to the Special Constabulary must be a British citizen, EC/EEA national or a Commonwealth Citizen or a foreign national with no restrictions on your stay in the UK. We must also be able to verify your personal background for the minimum of 3 years preceding your application.
Be of good character and not hold a criminal record, be at least 18 years old on application, and in good health. Although you do not need any formal qualifications, a good standard of education is required and be able to read, write and be fluent in English and your eyesight must be within acceptable limits
The eyesight standards for new police officer recruits are:
- Aided vision (wearing lenses or spectacles) - 6/12 or better in either eye and 6/6 or better using both eyes (binocular vision) is required.
The recruitment process will assess your suitability in a variety of areas but we are mainly looking for commitment, motivation, flexibility and good interpersonal skills, with the ability to think on your feet in challenging situations.
While there is some paperwork involved in police work, don't be put off by a lack of formal qualifications we are interested in your potential, not paper qualifications. The kind of people the police service needs have good life skills and experience plus a strong community awareness. They need to be able to:
- stay calm in a crisis,
- communicate clearly,
- resolve disputes sensitively and appropriately,
- think laterally and solve problems,
- plan and take the initiative,
- be tolerant and work well in a team,
- be honest, fair and impartial,
- act with integrity,
- treat the public and their colleagues with respect and courtesy
Joining the specials opens up a world of opportunity for personal and professional advancement.
Certain occupations will preclude an application to the Special Constabulary where there could be a potential conflict in business interests. However, Special Constables are usually drawn from a wide variety of occupations and backgrounds.
Special Constables come from all walks of life : -
- They are volunteer police officers with full Constabulary powers
- Have the same powers and responsibilities as regular police officers
- Wear the same uniform and use the same equipment as regular police officers
- Volunteer 16 hours of their time a month which equates to around 200 hours a year
- Although you will volunteer your time, we pay expenses so you will not be out of pocket for giving your time to us.
- There are many benefits for individuals, the police service and the local community.
Certain occupations will preclude an application to the Special Constabulary where there could be a potential conflict in business interests. However some occupations with Chief Police Officer consent may be eligible for consideration. Special Constables are usually drawn from a wide variety of occupations and backgrounds. Please click here for further information about precluded occupations.
Page last reviewed March 2021.