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Special Constable recruitment process

We are always looking to welcome new special constables.

The special constable recruitment process should take about five months, depending on reference checks and full accurate information being provided. You will need to successfully complete the following steps before starting a thorough training programme.

Stage 1 – Eligibility

During the eligibility process, we must check you meet all of the criteria detailed below before you can continue with your application.

To be a special constable, you must:

  • be 18 years and over (there is no upper age limit)
  • be committed to serving as a special constable for a minimum of two years
  • be a British citizen, citizen of the Irish Republic, European Economic Area (EEA), Commonwealth or other foreign national whose stay in the UK is unrestricted
  • be a resident in the UK for at least three years
  • live within the force border – however, we will consider an applicant who lives 15 miles or a 30 minute drive from the nearest station (please contact us for further information)
  • be able to perform a minimum monthly average of 16 hours’ duty, agreed around your availability
  • be successful in the vetting process
  • be in good health mentally and physically to undertake police duties
  • provide your medical history and be given a satisfactory medical clearance by the force medical officer
  • pass a fitness test which consists of Endurance Fitness (multi-stage shuttle run) 4 shuttles at level 5 (5/4)
  • have a corrected distance visual acuity of 6/12, in either eye and 6/6 or better with both eyes together
  • have a corrected low contrast distance visual acuity of 6/12 or better for a 10% contrast target with both eyes together
  • have a corrected near static visual acuity of 6/9 or better with both eyes together
  • have plenty of common sense, resilience, patience, enthusiasm, commitment and self-motivation

You must not:

  • be employed in any of the following occupations:
    • Armed forces personnel
    • Traffic wardens, civil enforcement officers and school crossing patrols
    • Neighbourhood, street wardens and other uniformed patrol wardens
    • Highways agency traffic officers employed in an “on-road” capacity
    • Police community support officers
    • Members of employers’ police forces and private constabularies
    • Magistrates, judges, justices’ clerks and CPS employees
    • Border force officers or HM Revenue and customs officers
    • Members of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner
    • Members of parliament
  • have a County Court Judgement (CCJ) which has not been satisfied
  • be currently declared bankrupt and for a period of three years afterwards
  • be subject to a Debt Relief Order and for a period of three years afterwards
  • be a member of certain national groups, for example, British National Party, Combat 18 or National Front
  • have any tattoos which would cause offence
  • have applied to another police force with the past 6 months
  • have been placed on the Police Barred and Advisory Lists within 5 years from the date of listing in the case of gross misconduct or 3 years from the date of listing in the case of poor performance
  • have any criminal convictions or cautions (minor offences will be considered)
  • be in a job that is considered incompatible with the role of a special constable, including armed forces, fire service and the security industry
  • have an active role in politics

It is not necessary to:

  • have any formal qualifications
  • have a driving licence
  • be a specific height

Business interests

Some occupations and business interests may not be compatible with the role of special constable. To determine compatibility, you may be required to explain the nature of your current employment and any business interests you currently have. For example, other volunteering roles or receiving rental income.

You may not be eligible for appointment if you, your spouse or partner, or any other relative, holds or has a financial interest in any licence or permit relating to:

  • liquor licensing
  • refreshment houses
  • betting and gaming
  • regulating places of entertainment

Decisions concerning eligibility are considered on a case by case basis.

Stage 2 – Application form

If you are successful at the online eligibility stage, you will asked to complete an application form.

You will need to fill in your personal details, employment history and references and upload your ID and proof of current residential address.

Disability support

If you have a disability or a neurodiverse condition (as defined by the Equalities Act 2010) we encourage you to tell us on your application so we can offer you support throughout the recruitment process.

When completing your application on our recruitment system, you can tick a box if you would like our Outreach Team to contact you to provide guidance and support.

The information you provide will be shared with our HR Advisory team, Occupational Health team and our Learning and Development Team. These teams will support you and ensure you have all the required measures in place to carry out your role.

Stage 3 – National Sift

Once your application form is received and checked, you will be invited to register for the College of Policing National Sift.

The National Sift consists of two exercises. These reflect the competencies and values relevant to the role of a Special Constable. You will be asked to complete a situational judgement test and a behavioural style questionnaire.

Situational judgement test

The situational judgement test measures your:

  • ability to choose appropriate actions in situations similar to those you could face as a Special Constable
  • judgement and ability to make effective decisions against the competency and values framework

Behavioural styles questionnaire

The behavioural styles questionnaire measures your typical behaviour and preferences at work.

The purpose of the questionnaire is to assess whether you have the right behaviours and attitudes to be effective in the role.

Stage 4 – Familiarisation event

Once you have been successful at the application stage, we will invite you to attend a Familiarisation Event.

The purpose of this compulsory event is to provide you with further information on the process of becoming a Special Constable. It will also give you an opportunity to hear from our serving Specials what it is like volunteering as a Police Officer in Avon and Somerset.

Stage 5 – Structured Interview

Following shortlisting, you will be invited to a face to face interview.

The interview will consist of a competency-based assessment.

Stage 6 – Pre-appointment checks

If you are successful at your assessment, you will be invited to complete a number of pre-appointment checks at Police Headquarters, Portishead.

These will include:

Security vetting checks

View the vetting process.

Fitness test

You must keep your physical fitness up to the required standard to pass your fitness test before commencing as a special constable. You are entitled to up to three attempts to pass the fitness test at six weekly intervals. However, failure at the third attempt will result in your application being rejected.

View the fitness test requirements.

Biometrics testing (fingerprints and DNA) and drugs test

All applicants are required to be biometrically vetted, which involves taking fingerprints and a saliva sample.

Drugs screening will also be carried out. This will involve taking a hair sample.


You will be required to complete a confidential medical questionnaire, which will be reviewed by our Occupational Health team.

The medical assessment will consist of vision testing including colour vision, hearing test and height, weight measurement.

These will be undertaken by an Occupational Health Advisor who will ensure you meet the required standards.

During the assessment, the nurse will talk to you about your body mass index (BMI). This is not a pass or fail element but the medical team are required to gather this data as part of your medical review.


We will send reference requests to all your previous employers in the past three years. If you haven’t been employed for three years we will ask for a character reference or an educational reference.

Stage 7 – Offer of appointment

Once all of the pre-appointment checks have been satisfactorily completed, you will receive a final offer of appointment and allocated a place on the next available training course.

In addition to the normal selection process, you will be assessed on your ability to commit to and perform the role of special constable within the Avon and Somerset police area.

Stage 8 – Training programme and posting

A special constable has the same powers and responsibilities as a regular police officer. Your training programme will provide you with the skills and knowledge for this.

Initial training

You will be expected to complete an induction day, a period of self-study  and then six intensive training weekends, held over alternate weekends.  You are required to attend all sessions of this programme.


When you have completed your initial training, you will be “posted” to a policing location and assigned a tutor. We will ask for your preferred posting location and will do our best to post you there or to another nearby location, subject to the availability of a suitable tutor.

You will work closely with your tutor to put your initial training into practice. You will shadow and work alongside them at a wide range of activities such as:

  • performing a search on someone
  • patrolling an area as there has been a report of a burglary
  • stopping traffic at the scene of a collision

During this time you will complete your learning portfolio with examples of your work and attend training sessions at Police and Fire Headquarters.

During your tutorship period you should fit in with the shift patterns of your tutor as much as possible.

Additional training

As you become more confident and gain more experience, you will attend a series of additional training sessions to build your knowledge and give you additional skills. All the time, you will be working towards gaining independent patrol status, which will allow you to work independently as a single-crewed police officer.

Independent patrol status

Only when we are confident that you are ready, will we award you with independent patrol status. By this time, you will have all the skills, experience and knowledge you need to police on your own.

The speed at which you achieve this will depend entirely on how many duty hours you are able to complete. Some officers achieve independent patrol status in a little over a year, others take much longer. National guidelines say that 3-5 years would be a reasonable time period.

We expect all special constables to work towards and attain independent patrol status.

Whilst the majority of special constables are assigned to patrol or neighbourhood policing, once you have obtained independent patrol status, you will have the opportunity to work alongside specialist policing teams such as Investigations, Digital Investigations Unit, Roads Policing Unit, and Ports Police. To be eligible for these specialist opportunities, you will need to pass a selection process when vacancies arise.


We ask that you perform a minimum average of 16 duty hours per calendar month.  Your shift pattern is flexible to suit your availability.

Ready to join us?

Stay up to date with our latest vacancies by registering for our job alert email service

To make a recruitment related query, contact our Talent Acquisition team.

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