In most areas now, Specials are provided with the same equipment as their regular colleagues. While the exact type of equipment varies from force to force, typically a Special will carry a baton, handcuffs, a personal radio and some form of incapacitating spray. In addition, most police officers in the UK routinely wear a stab vest (body armour) too.
Standard Issue Kit
The beloved (but practically useless) wooden truncheon gave way to a baton in the early 1990's.
Several different types are used by police forces in the UK, a few of them are illustrated above. Each type of baton has a set of techniques for use. Officers receive "conflict training" on these skills. Batons are provided as a defensive tool, used by officers to protect themselves or others if necessary.
Many Police Officers like to purchase their own Baton Holders which are often better than the standard issue baton holders and provide better retention when the baton is stored yet keep the baton more readily accessible when it is required.
The "bracelet" style handcuffs (two cuffs linked by a chain) were replaced years ago by "rigid" style cuffs, these cuffs not only provide a method of restraint, but can be used to force a struggling prisoner to the ground, if necessary. Officers may also be issued with extra "Plasticuffs" when working public order or event security and potentially large numbers of people may need to be detained.
Every officer carries a personal radio ("PR") which they use to keep in touch with their control room. It can be a vital life-line!
All Home Office forces, as well as British Transport Police, have in the last few years introduced new digital "tetra" PRs (also known as "Airwave"). This radio system replaces the now aged analogue PR system.
The Airwave service is a digital radio communications network designed to meet the needs of the police and other public safety organisations.
The contract to provide the Airwave service was awarded in February 2000 by the Police Information Technology Organisation ( PITO ), on behalf of the Home Office. The service is based on the European open standard TETRA. TETRA is short for Terrestrial Trunked Radio, an open European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) standard for digital trunked radio.
There are three main types of Radio Earpiece which are used by Police Officers; In-ear covert acoustic earpieces, G Shape Radio Earpieces and D Shape Radio Earpieces. Officers personal preference for comfort and fit normally dictate their choice of earpiece.
Police officers in England, Wales and Scotland are now issued with an incapacitant spray as part of their personal protection equipment.
When squirted in the face of a violent or dangerous suspect, the spray creates a reaction with the mucus membranes, causing the eyes to sting and forcing them shut. It also makes the nose run uncontrollably (nice!). The effects wear off after a short time and there are no lasting side-effects.
CS spray is more commonly used, but a few police forces issue "PAVA" or "pepper" spray which has been found to be more effective in some situations.
CS Spray is normally carried on a belt mounted CS Spray Holder which keeps the spray canister attached by a lanyard to its storage pouch to prevent loss or theft of the CS Spray wh
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In addition to the stadard issue equipment, many officers like to purchase their own extras. Kit such as boots, belt equipment and tactical vests come in many varieties and styles to suit an officers personal requirements and aesthetics.
Below are some products that you may wish to purchase, along with suggestions and reccomendations of trusted brands to ensure that your kit is of the highest quality without breaking the bank.
Magnum Boots have long been the preferred choice of boots among police officers and their experience in the sector shows in the quality and design of their products. As a Specials had historically been given a boot allowance to purchase their own boots from between £40 and £60 depending on the specific force. Unfortunately due to the recent financial crisis and subsequent government cut backs some forces have removed the boot allowance and Specials must now purchase their own boots out of their own pockets, this however depends on your specific force. Boot prices can vary from £40 at the bottom of the market up to £150 for the highest spec available.
A good kit bag is invaluable for hauling all your equipment to and from the station and into and out of your car. A well designed bag will have enough storage capacity inside without being overly bulky and a selection of convenient dividers for keeping kit neatly and readily available, ideally including external pouches for immediate access items like a torch or first aid kit.
The piece of issue kit officers complain about most is the handcuff key. The standard key is small and fiddly to use at the best of times, let alone when dealing with a resisting suspect or when wearing bulky slash/needle resistant gloves. Good quality Handcuff Keys are available relatively cheaply at around £6 and come in a variety of styles and materials, the most popular being machined steel, but carbon fibre is also an option if weight is a factor.
Most forces will issue a limited range of belt kit with a basic selection of pouches. Many officers will find that the standard issue does not meet the needs of their duties and will opt to add additional duty pouches, key holders, torch holders and more depending on their needs. A belt mounted back support is also a popular addition.
A good quality torches not only make life as a police officer easier, it also makes it safer. Traditional strong brands in the police market have been Maglite and SureFire who have established names for quality and reliability. However recently Led Lenser Torches are rapidly gaining traction as a leader in the field of police torches with their rugged design, high output, long battery life and reasonable price.
Blackstone's offer a range of books on the field of policing and general law as well as promotional guides and study text books for advancement in the force and are widely accepted as a leading authority in the field. They also produce a specific Handbook for the Special Constabulary which is an invaluable guide to the roles and duties of a Police Special. The handbook is small enough to use as a reference on duty or for a bit of extra