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Is the term "Special Constable" out of date?


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Poll: Renaming the Special Constabulary (208 member(s) have cast votes)

Change the name of the Special Constabulary?

  1. No - leave it unchanged (124 votes [59.62%])

    Percentage of vote: 59.62%

  2. Voted Yes - please answer next question (84 votes [40.38%])

    Percentage of vote: 40.38%

Assuming you think it should be changed, what name(s) would you prefer?

  1. Special Police (7 votes [3.21%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.21%

  2. Police Reserve (41 votes [18.81%])

    Percentage of vote: 18.81%

  3. Voted Police Auxiliary (30 votes [13.76%])

    Percentage of vote: 13.76%

  4. Other (please specify by answering below) (22 votes [10.09%])

    Percentage of vote: 10.09%

  5. None of the above ( I voted no to the 1st question ) (118 votes [54.13%])

    Percentage of vote: 54.13%

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#101 Deividdo

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 07:17 PM

No, I think the title should remain "special constable", and that the collective name is unchanged as well.

#102 MerseyLLB

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 08:55 PM

Why?


Special Constables were raised in times of need historically, to assist JPs to quell riot or in times of emergency.

"The Special Constables Act of 1831 "for the better preservation of the peace" empowered two justices of the peace to appoint as many special constables as they deemed sufficient to combat any "tumult, riot and felony". " Source: http://bubwith.net/data/sp-cons.htm

Then if you follow the Special Constabulary's history from WW1, through the police strikes, to WW2 they were used to plug the gaps left by shortages of regular officers.

The closest to specials in role profile were actually Parish Constables who were part time volunteers and can trace their routes to 1617 and further with certain interpretation. They were appointed by magistrates.


These days we have a body of men and women who contribute many, many hours. As aforementioned, there are specials in all kind of specialist roles. They do, in a broad sense, the same job as a regular (I realise there is disparity with how much of the investigation process they are involved in) and are no longer wearing different uniform and sent to the local fete.

Whilst I agree that what the specials do is to be applauded, there is nothing that 'special' about them anymore. Up and down the country specials act as bobbies. They don't go out and and operate in a different way to a regular. So why the stigma? There are many people who, whilst not being anti-special, still attach a stigma to the specials, in a condescending way. The term Special, not to you or I, but to a member of public does not do the work involved justice. Like it or not 'special' gives an impression of amateur.

If it looks like a bobby, has the same powers as a bobby and acts like a bobby...it is a bobby to the public. Why confuse matters.

I am all for keeping identifying features for us, but that can be for internal purposes. However it does not benefit the public in any way that they see us on a different footing to a regular officer.

I am not ashamed of what I have just signed up to do. When I am attested in less than 2 months time I will stand proud as a constable, whether I am a hobby bobby or not. I didn't particularly enjoy being a PCSO towards the end, but I was still never ashamed.

#103 mdon

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:01 PM

Detention???


As far as I am aware although I am not 100% certain so please correct me if I'm wrong PACE just states custody officer Section 34 if I'm not mistaken.

#104 SBG

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:57 PM

36 - 3 Must be at least a Sergeant

#105 -AJ

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 10:09 PM

With all this PC vs Special talk though - If a SC were to be very keyed up on law, and was to take the SAME exam as a regular takes to become a sergeant - Then they also would be a sergeant I'm sure. I do not believe anywhere in law does it say a sergeant has to be paid - it just says that he has to know certain stuff and thus pass certain tests. I know forces don't do this, but for what reason could an SC not hold the same RANK as a regular officer? :)

*drops the open can of worms and runs*

#106 Sam Vimes

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 06:48 PM

With all this PC vs Special talk though - If a SC were to be very keyed up on law, and was to take the SAME exam as a regular takes to become a sergeant - Then they also would be a sergeant I'm sure. I do not believe anywhere in law does it say a sergeant has to be paid - it just says that he has to know certain stuff and thus pass certain tests. I know forces don't do this, but for what reason could an SC not hold the same RANK as a regular officer? :aok:

*drops the open can of worms and runs*


Passing the exam doesn't automatically make you a Sergeant, you need to be given a job first. Plenty of PCs hold the qualifications but aren't Sergeants.

A Special also isn't eligible to sit the exam as you need to be a PC who has completed the two year probation, or whose two years is up the year they sit the exam.

#107 mdon

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 07:08 PM

36 - 3 Must be at least a Sergeant


I stand corrected. Still goes to show that because officers hold the office of constable doesn't meant they are the same as has been argued between PC's and SC's

Edited by mdon, 11 February 2012 - 07:12 PM.


#108 Londonbased

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 07:53 PM

This is getting Off Topic again.

#109 Bad Lieutenant

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 08:52 AM

Keep the term Special Constable. In my experience the term is well respected and easily identifiable. Why change it?

Just another rebrand disaster.

I expect to get called many things when I hit the streetPosted Image. The issues on this thread are the least of my worries.

By the way everyone, I once completed a Marathon in under a minute. That was before they changed the name to Snickers

#110 supermancss

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 11:52 AM

I had to put other as it wouldn't let me just answer no :evil:


"SPESHUL PULEESE"

#111 matthewc182

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:03 PM

Remember when Coco pops changed their to Choco Krispies and the whole of the UK went mental!?

#112 CmdKeen

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:08 PM

I stand corrected. Still goes to show that because officers hold the office of constable doesn't meant they are the same as has been argued between PC's and SC's


Except the point was that they are the same in that they hold the same rank and office. And thus have exactly the same powers. Which means as far as a member of the public meeting you out and about is concerned there is no different.
They may have different responsibilities in terms of regulations, but different jobs within the police also have different responsibilities and requirements placed upon them so that is hardly a compelling argument.

The Honourable Artillery Company has come up already in this thread re their special constabulary. When you look at how their TA component works I think that is the model that could be used.

Give specials the same pre-nominal rank title as regulars, PC. For that is what they are, constables in the police. When out and about operationally people want a "PC" and frankly don't care whether they are full or part time. In just the same way a regular or TA soldier holds the same rank and is addressed the same way, the Taliban and fighting people outside a nightclub don't let you off lightly because you're a volunteer.
Yet at the same time the TA have their own ethos, identity, history and associations. There is no reason we can't use a rather archaic name for the group of volunteer constables. Frankly the "Special Constabulary" is much less bizarre a name than "The Honourable Artillery Company".

As has been said the role of the special constabulary has changed to be far more closely aligned with what regulars do. Specials go to the same calls and can be expected to fully interact with the public in the same way. Plenty of specials have more experience and are better at the job than a newly minted probationer, so the PC title isn't some kind of kite mark for quality and experience. I think it would be an important step in acknowledging the importance and contribution of specials.

Oh and voluntary does not mean the same thing as unpaid. The special constabulary is not based on being unpaid, it is based upon local people volunteering to augment the police without having to make a career out of it.

#113 SBG

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:37 PM

Oh and voluntary does not mean the same thing as unpaid. The special constabulary is not based on being unpaid, it is based upon local people volunteering to augment the police without having to make a career out of it.


Some excellent points - but the above is something that we miss at our peril!

#114 Sam Vimes

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 01:12 PM

Except the point was that they are the same in that they hold the same rank and office.


I disagree with that; we all hold the office of Constable... from the newest SC up to the Chief Constable... we are all Constables. We do not however hold the same rank for internal administration purposes, PACE, etc etc. What would happen to those who hold the role of S/Sgt or S/Insp? Would they now be referred to as Sgt or Insp? Because as you'll all know that'll lead to a whole world of pain with regards to PACE, overtime authorisations, and a host of other things that are rank-dependant.

My rank is that of PC, which does not reflect my powers or abilities, but it is recognition of the fact I have passed the recruitment and testing, passed a set level of standards during a 2 year Probation, and am subject to the terms and conditions of the role of a PC. It is recognition of what I do with the majority of my life and the position I hold within the Police family.

The role of SC - whilst having the same powers in law - is not the same as a PC. You are not bound by the same terms of service and pay and recalls to duty. You have not passed the same training and recruitment, and in the majority of cases will not be quite as competent as most PCs regardless of how new they may be. That said, the responsibilities that come with the title of SC as opposed to PC may be different, but different doesn't necessarily mean bad. Being an SC shows a voluntary decision to help in your communities on top of what others may consider a 'full life', it shows a dedication and willingness to help beyond that which I would consider to be the norm. These sorts of things that go along with your role are not things that are reflected by my title of PC; PC to mean just means I do it for a living, not that I do it in addition to a lifetime full of other commitments.

From a personal point of view I would feel a little put out by Specials all being referred to and called PC. I know quite a few Specials who are in that role precisely because they failed at Regular recruitment and are gaining a bit of experience, so to hear them using my job title as their own would get my back up a little as someone who didn't fail at application.

You are Special Constables, something which has it's own history and standards and expectations, and your job title has it's own prestige and gets respect for entirely different reasons. Different reasons doesn't make it bad; just different.

#115 mdon

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 08:30 PM

Except the point was that they are the same in that they hold the same rank and office. And thus have exactly the same powers. Which means as far as a member of the public meeting you out and about is concerned there is no different.
They may have different responsibilities in terms of regulations, but different jobs within the police also have different responsibilities and requirements placed upon them so that is hardly a compelling argument.

The Honourable Artillery Company has come up already in this thread re their special constabulary. When you look at how their TA component works I think that is the model that could be used.

Give specials the same pre-nominal rank title as regulars, PC. For that is what they are, constables in the police. When out and about operationally people want a "PC" and frankly don't care whether they are full or part time. In just the same way a regular or TA soldier holds the same rank and is addressed the same way, the Taliban and fighting people outside a nightclub don't let you off lightly because you're a volunteer.
Yet at the same time the TA have their own ethos, identity, history and associations. There is no reason we can't use a rather archaic name for the group of volunteer constables. Frankly the "Special Constabulary" is much less bizarre a name than "The Honourable Artillery Company".

As has been said the role of the special constabulary has changed to be far more closely aligned with what regulars do. Specials go to the same calls and can be expected to fully interact with the public in the same way. Plenty of specials have more experience and are better at the job than a newly minted probationer, so the PC title isn't some kind of kite mark for quality and experience. I think it would be an important step in acknowledging the importance and contribution of specials.

Oh and voluntary does not mean the same thing as unpaid. The special constabulary is not based on being unpaid, it is based upon local people volunteering to augment the police without having to make a career out of it.


No, they hold the same office but not the same rank at all! I agree with the comments above made by Sam Vines.

Even the chief comendant of the specials is out ranked by a probationary PC, simples.

The TA and police are nothing alike, in the TA you have to do the full training and promotion process and are apart of the armed forces and work when they are told to and can be deployed when told. As a SC they do not do anywhere near the same recruitment process, training or probation process and do not hold recognised ranks ie S/sgt. If you are an SC and you really think you are every bit as qualified as a regular PC and hold the same rank then I'm afraid you are delusional.

Edited by mdon, 13 February 2012 - 08:35 PM.


#116 Gabba

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 09:53 PM

No, they hold the same office but not the same rank at all! I agree with the comments above made by Sam Vines.

Even the chief comendant of the specials is out ranked by a probationary PC, simples.



may be true in 99% of forces, but not in Northamptonshire, our Special Superintendent does out rank regs of lesser rank. yes he has limited powers the same powers as every SC, but he does have the authority given by the CC. no can't auth a section 18, 60 or what ever but he does out rank the lower ranks, it's is an honorary rank but it is all the same a rank. he has his own parking space, office in the ACPO section of FHQ, he gets to drive what ever car he wants, he has all the privileges of rank, simples.

#117 pathca

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 09:55 PM

Way back, when I were nowt but a lass ,the recruiting criteria and training of specials was way less than it is now,but equally the expectations of us were less and the division between regulars and special much more marked.In fact when I joined,certainly in Lancashire, being a special was seen as a handicap to becoming a regular .There was little question of SCs and PCs being 'the same' we weren't but everybody accepted that ,and appreciated that (mostly ) we did our best within our capabilities .
Over the years there have been dramatic changes in the whole construction and role of the Specials .From being expected to be largely fete fairies, to effective officers ,to such an essential part of the police family that often the regulars couldn't manage without them.
In that respect maybe the term ' Special ' is outdated ,but perhaps we should approach the issue from a different perspective ? Promote the specials and the difference between them and PCSOs ,define and develop the Specials role and make that national ,like the regulars .Include in that specialization if appropriate ,but the Special may have to offer a degree of commitment in return.Essentially we need a 21st century approach to an historical organization .After that it maybe a name change is appropriate personally I hope not

#118 mdon

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 11:25 PM

may be true in 99% of forces, but not in Northamptonshire, our Special Superintendent does out rank regs of lesser rank. yes he has limited powers the same powers as every SC, but he does have the authority given by the CC. no can't auth a section 18, 60 or what ever but he does out rank the lower ranks, it's is an honorary rank but it is all the same a rank. he has his own parking space, office in the ACPO section of FHQ, he gets to drive what ever car he wants, he has all the privileges of rank, simples.


Is it just him/her that holds some of the few privileges of rank or does your special chief comendant also out rank regulars? I take it this special super can also act as silver in deployments and deploy resources etc.

#119 SBG

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 11:29 PM

Is it just him/her that holds some of the few privileges of rank or does your special chief comendant also out rank regulars? I take it this special super can also act as silver in deployments and deploy resources etc.

For the record I have acted as Silver and control incidents.

I have often been a bronze or a serial commander with regs under me





Any how we are way of subject

#120 Gabba

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 11:36 PM

Is it just him/her that holds some of the few privileges of rank or does your special chief comendant also out rank regulars? I take it this special super can also act as silver in deployments and deploy resources etc.

we don't have a comendant, acting as Silver has never been tested but we have had S/Insp (like myself) running New years (just gone) acting bonze aka Oscar One all night.

Edited by Gabba, 13 February 2012 - 11:42 PM.


#121 mdon

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 07:22 AM

we don't have a comendant, acting as Silver has never been tested but we have had S/Insp (like myself) running New years (just gone) acting bonze aka Oscar One all night.


I suspect the special supt rank thing is just a respect thing as I can't see any force having an unqualified person controlling situations.

I understand the special bronze thing also as I have been put down as bronze on a op but it meant nothing as I have never done the bronze course. If anything kicked off a bronze PC or regular sgt would take over in an instant.

#122 David

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 07:23 AM

OK can we please get back to the topic now - this is a discussion regarding name changes. Thanks.

#123 Giraffe

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 04:37 PM

Immediately after David's post three people have chosen to continue discussing whether PCs outrank SCs.

I have deleted these posts and any further off topic posts will also be deleted.

:whistle:

To remind everyone - is the term "Special Constable" out of date?

#124 Dan_05

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 05:01 PM

I think there are some convincing arguments for both, but the one thing we do need to address regardless of the name issue, is the actual professionalism of the organisation.

Far too many SC's seem to join and treat it like the cub scouts, not a professional and diciplined service. Will a name change help with that? Possibly it would be the start, but I think a lot more needs to be done internally.

Edited by Dan_05, 14 February 2012 - 05:07 PM.


#125 Jimmynut24

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 04:35 PM

Police Constable - the public dont need to know were Specials and regulars will know we arent full time by looking at the colar number. I looked at my personel page and it stated part time even though its voluntary. Bring unity as one police organistation in each of our countys and stop the divide! If I need a name for the regs to call me its Jim not the Special




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