The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) is set to welcome special constables to its 139,000-strong membership from 1 July following a successful campaign.
As members of the Federation, special constables will receive greater legal protection and representation.
Reaching out to the thousands of special constables serving shoulder to shoulder with their full-time colleagues, PFEW National Chair Steve Hartshorn said: “It is a real privilege to be able to welcome volunteer members of the Special Constabulary on behalf of the Federation, the National Board and the National Council in being able to join PFEW for the first time in our history.
“They have a long and rich history of serving society. They are appreciated by members of the public for assisting our regular police officers or at times leading in the protection of our communities.”
The Special Constabulary was formed in 1831 and its members serve with the same rigor and valour as full-time police officers. However, they have never had an umbrella organisation representing them and had negligible legal protection until now.
In 2020, special constables in the UK volunteered three million hours for free.
This month also marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Special Constable Glenn Goodman who served North Yorkshire. He was fatally shot on the A64 near Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, on 7 June 1992 after stopping a suspicious car to make a routine check.
PFEW Special Constabulary Lead Dave Bamber said: “Specials play a dangerous and difficult role in society, and they need support in the workplace to ensure they are treated fairly and not disadvantaged and the Federation will be there to offer that support.
“From a special constabulary point of view, the law change is a really big indication of acceptance within the police family and the Federation wishes to embrace them as well.”
With the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 coming into force from 30 June, special constables will now be able to sign up for PFEW membership to receive support and advice from elected workplace reps who have received full PFEW training on Police Regulations.
Explaining the importance of specials joining the PFEW, Mr Hartshorn added: “Special constables bring their own unique set of life skills into policing. It is only right that they have the same protection, support, and experience as their full-time colleagues when they need it.
“As members they will have access to PFEW services and the support of trained & accredited federation reps, our legal service providers and other experts who have experience in representing officers. They will also have access to many other benefits provided local and nationally by the PFEW’s network across England and Wales.
"I would encourage the special constables who are interested in joining as members to contact their local federation representatives, local branch board or visit the PFEW website to learn more.”
Along with the work already carried out by the Specials Working Group, a Branch Pilot Group has been established to ensure all Federation branches are supported regarding the joining process and all other aspects of this change.
Having access to legal protection will also open the opportunity for specials to take up Taser training, if approved by the local chief constable, if they wish to do so.
“As the undisputed voice of policing we speak for everyone across the rank and file to seek equity of treatment, when we represent, negotiate and influence others in our work,” said Mr Hartshorn.