Significant fall in specials a ‘huge loss’ to policing  

Cambridgeshire Constabulary volunteer ‘Specials’ put in shifts totalling more than 45,000 hours in 2020 – 4,000 more than...

Cambridgeshire Constabulary volunteer ‘Specials’ put in shifts totalling more than 45,000 hours in 2020 – 4,000 more than in 2019. - Credit: Cambridgeshire Constabulary  

The number of special constables working alongside police officers in Cambridgeshire has fallen over the past decade, figures reveal. 

Increases in workloads have made it impossible for some of the officers in England and Wales to volunteer alongside their day jobs, claims the Police Federation. 

The Association of Special Constabulary Officers has described a significant fall in numbers across the two nations as a "huge loss" to policing. 

Home Office data shows Cambridgeshire Constabulary had 169 special constables in March this year – down from 197 the year before. 

It represents a (17 per cent) drop compared to 2011, when there were 203. 


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However, Cambridgeshire has not suffered as much as might have been expected – with 2020 a bumper year for the force for the number of hours worked. 

Specials put in shifts totalling more than 45,000 hours in 2020 – 4,000 more than in 2019.  

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They attended more than 2,600 incidents and made or assisted 686 arrests. 

“That’s why it is all the more remarkable that some have willingly put themselves forward to volunteer on the front line throughout this period.  

Chief Constable Nick Dean said: “More than 45,000 hours supporting policing in the county is a fantastic and vital contribution and I would like to thank all our Specials for what they do.   

In 2020, specials contributed to policing the county through:  

Working 45,317 hours  

Completing 6573 shifts  

Launching 729 investigations  

Stopping 1737 vehicles  

Attending 2655 incidents  

Making or assisting 686 arrests  

Specials hold the same powers as police constables and work a minimum of 16 hours a month as volunteers. 

A fall in the number of specials within Cambridgeshire Constabulary over the decade came alongside a 16 per cent increase in full-time police officers, helped by a government-backed recruitment campaign for 20,000 more officers nationally by 2023. 

Across England and Wales, the number of special officers has reduced by more than half over the past decade, from 18,421 in 2011 to 9,174 this year. 

The Police Federation for England and Wales said a recent focus on recruiting more paid police officers, including some former specials, and an increase in workload for the volunteer officers were behind the demise in numbers. 

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