Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom says Special Constables provide an important link between communities and the police.
Liz said the Force benefits from the skills and experience Specials bring from their life and work outside of policing.
Liz said: “Our Special Constables do a fantastic job. They come from all backgrounds, which allows Specials to be a vital link with the people and communities we serve and protect.
“They also bring a wealth of skills and experience that we almost certainly wouldn’t have on the Force if it wasn’t for our Specials.
“They play a really important role that helps to make a difference, and I know that many of our Specials will say the role has made a real difference to them as well.
“So it’s great that, as a Federation, we’re able to welcome them as members and can offer the same levels of help and support that we do for regular officers.
Liz’s comments echo those of Federation national Specials lead Nicky Ryan, who described them as an “amazing asset” to policing and said the key roles they play should be properly acknowledged.
Speaking on TalkTV as part of the channel’s Police Week, Nicky, who is also the Federation’s Welsh lead, said she did not feel the value of Specials was always fully appreciated.
Nicky said: “We need to acknowledge that day in, day out there are Special Constables up and down the country who are carrying out frontline duties, detective roles, fighting cybercrime, roads policing – they cover the whole range of duties.
“The skills that policing gets from them can’t be quantified. They are an amazing asset. We have career Specials with 25 or 30 years’ service and they have so much knowledge and experience.”
Nicky said some people joined the Special Constabulary as a route into a career in policing while others chose to sign up because they wanted to serve their community.
She said several current chief constables and senior officers had begun their policing careers as Specials.
“We have 7,401 Special Constables in England and Wales and last year they volunteered more than 2.5 million hours to policing which equates to just over £61.5 million,” Nicky explained.
“Special Constables can, and do, perform most of the same duties as their paid colleagues.
“They wear the same uniform, they have the same policing powers and they are expected to perform to the same high standards – performance wise and ethics wise – as paid officers. The only difference is they are volunteers.”
Nicky said Specials were not paid but were reimbursed for any expenses and often volunteered through a strong sense of community and commitment.
“We have all sorts of people, airline pilots, young mums, students – we have a whole range of people from different backgrounds,” she said.
“People do it for a variety of different reasons and we get to utilise their skills and they learn new skills from policing.
“There are all sorts of areas of policing that are opening up to Specials because we now acknowledge the skills and depth of experience that they have.
“We have people from the banking sector, people from the cyber world with a range of skills that far surpasses what we have in policing.”
The Special Constabulary dates as far back as 1831 but Specials were only allowed to join the Police Federation in July last year.