The number of special constables in Thames Valley Police has more than doubled in the last four years.
A recruitment drive has seen the number of special constables increase from 246 in 2008 to 719 in 2012, with another 700 applications waiting to be processed.
The drive is specifically to increase operational resilience and will mean that the general public will see more officers on the streets.
Many special constables go on to become police officers making it an excellent way to explore a prospective career path.
Special constables undergo the same training as a police officer. Their training involves a total of 144 hours spread over eight weekends.
Training officer Sergeant Sarah Cook said: “Since starting the double intake last September, we are training between 80 and 140 special constables every weekend in groups of about 40 per session. We do this alongside all the other training, including training for Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).”
When they have completed their training, special constables have the same powers and responsibilities as regular officers and provide a professional service to the same standard as the rest of the Force.
Chief Officer Nigel Woodley, said: “I am immensely proud that we have succeeded in doubling the number of special constables in four years. This has involved considerable team effort. I would like to convey my personal thanks to all the people involved in making this happen.
“This completes the ambitious target to increase the number of special constables in Thames Valley Police to 700 when I took up on my appointment as Chief Officer of the Special Constabulary.
“Thames Valley Police Special Constabulary performed over 230,000 hours of duty time last year which really highlights our importance and value in supporting our regular colleagues in times of peak demand.”
Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Richard Bennett said: “I am really pleased to be able to welcome so many more special constables to serve the communities of Thames Valley.
“Being a Special is challenging and rewarding and it is a great way to give public service. It takes a lot of commitment to complete the training and to achieve accreditation for independent patrol. We owe special constables a debt of gratitude as they volunteer so much support to their TVP colleagues.”
Special constables were the forerunners to the current police force. Known as peace officers in Anglo Saxon times their role has ebbed and flowed according to the needs of the time. It is perhaps a reflection of our more peaceful nation today that currently there are some 20,000 Special Constables in England and Wales compared to the 130,000 during the Second World War.