1. Where will I be posted/when will I find out?
You can choose during training which Area (or BCU - basic command unit) you are posted to and in most cases, the exact station. It's very rare that recruits don't get posted to the station they choose but it can sometimes happen due to numbers within the Area. Wherever you are posted, you can transfer at any point in your career with a valid reason and approval from your supervision.
2. When do I get my CS spray, baton and handcuffs?
You will get most of your protective equipment upon the completion of training - in most cases, on the night you are attested.
3. When can I get a driving course?
There are currently no plans for any further driving courses to be run for the Special Constabulary.
4. When do I get my uniform?
During training you will need to arrange an appointment with the Force Tailor to go for a uniform fitting. Your uniform will be issued at one of your training weekends for you to wear for the remainder of your training.
5. What items do I get in my uniform?
2 white shirts, 2 pairs of trousers (lightweight and heavyweight), black clip on tie (male) or chequered cravatt (female), black blouson jacket, lighweight yellow hi-viz jacket, waterproof yellow Gore-tex high-viz, shoulder slides and eppaulettes, Custodian helmet and flat cap (male) or female police hat.
6. Do you take home the uniform?
Ideally, wherever you are posted you will get issued a locker to store your uniform/equipment and so won't need to take it home. However there will be instances where you will need to take uniform home - these may include taking it home for cleaning, or attending an event or training outside of your area or station.
7. Will I be issued with a taser?
Currently only authorised firearms officers and officers in non-firearms specialist units carry Tasers. It remains to be seen whether their use becomes more widespread in the future.
8. Will I get a locker in my station?
Everybody should have one ideally, however lockers are a scarce resource and often even experienced officers do not have one. However if you don't have one, your supervision within the Special Constabulary will usually work hard to ensure you get one within a reasonable timescale.
9. What other equipment should I buy?
With the exception of boots, there is no other equipment that it is necessary for you to buy. However common items officers choose to purchase themselves include an extended handcuff key, belt pouches for documentation/ticket books, and a second torch that may be smaller and/or more powerful than the force issue Maglite.
10. Do I need to buy a pair of boots?
Yes. The most common and popular boots for police officers are Magnum Classics, currently retailing at around £40-45. You will recieve up to £30 renumeration per year in Boot Allowance through your expenses. SC trainers and/or BCU supervisors will give you more information on their specific criteria for claiming and paying out Boot Allowance.
11. Do I need to take a fitness test?
There is currently no fitness test in the recruitment process for Special Constables in Merseyside Police.
12. How do I get access to Force systems?
You will be afforded access to most systems a regular police constable would have access to, providing access is required to fulfill your role properly, and you have completed the necessary training. Further input on I.T. will be given at your training weekends.
13. What will we be trained on?
Training covers Diversity, the role of the Special Constabulary, how to use a Pocket Notebook, arrest powers (police and civilian), and common basic laws such as the Theft Act, Offences Against the Person Act, Common Law - you will also cover some force procedures and policies as well as I.T. and radio training. It's important to remember though that a large amount of your ongoing training and professional development comes from actually going on duty with experienced officers and training sessions once attested and posted to your Area.
14. What do I need to wear for training?
Initially you should be dressed smart/casual, then once issued your uniform you should wear it for training weekends unless directed otherwise by the trainers (e.g. for defence training weekends).
15. What do I need to bring with me for training?
A notepad and pen will be sufficient for the first day - after that you will need to bring all training materials issued to you throughout training, including pocket notebook, or as directed by the trainers.
16. Will I be exposed to CS?
Yes. All recruits to the Police are exposed to CS spray once on initial training.
17. What are the effects of CS?
This will be covered in depth on the relevant training day. Briefly, however, it causes the eyes, nose and throat to sting, the airways of the nose/throat to constrict, eyes to water and the nose/throat to produce a lot of mucus.
18. What happens during the CS exposure?
You will usually have to walk around an enclosed space which has been sprayed with a fine mist of dilute CS. taking one or two breaths with your eyes open.
The effects are greatly reduced compared to those felt by those who are sprayed with a full-strength stream of CS by the police, however it will be enough for you to fully appreciate the effects of CS spray.
19. What does PSP training involve?
It currently consists of 2 weekends of defence training covering unarmed defensive tactics, tactical communications; baton, handcuffs and CS spray use - most importantly though it will include classroom work on the theory and legal aspects of the use of reasonable force.
20. What is the PIRT?
The Police Initial Recruitment Test - a timed test on basic English and Maths skills. You will be invited to sit this test in the early stages of the recruitment process.
21. What am I likely to be asked in the interview?
There is no set structure or set question bank for interviews. However you should be prepared to explain why you want to join the Specials, and do some research in order to be familiar with current initiatives in Merseyside Police, the Chief Constable's vision for Merseyside Police and other similar documentation, lots of which is available on the Force website. You may be asked about certain qualities of a police officer and how you have demonstrated or experienced them in your personal life so far.
22. What preparation should I do for the interview?
As above, look into current initiative and operations being run in Merseyside Police on the force website. Contact your local Special Constabulary, they may be able to spare some time to meet you, and answer your questions or explain more about what they do.
23. What happens after I am attested?
Procedures differ from area to area. Generally you should meet a supervisory representative from your Area/BCU on the night of your attestation, or shortly afterwards. You may get a tour of your station, be introduced to your new colleagues and may arrange you first duty.
24. Do I need to attend a medical?
Not normally. You will need to fill in a medical questionairre as part of your application, and anything that causes concern may require you to meet with Occupational Health so they can investigate further or gain clarification from you.
25. Do I need to give a urine, blood and hair sample?
Taking such samples as standard is not currently part of the recruitment process. However at any time in your police career, you may be asked to provide one of the above samples as part of the Force's policy on drug use by officers and random drugs testing.
26. What background checks are performed?
An enhanced disclosure CRB check, a Home Office security check and checks via local Force intelligence systems (including those of other Forces if you live outside of Merseyside, or have done for a significant period in the past).
27. If I have a conviction does it affect my application?
Not in all cases. Obviously serious convictions or custodial sentences will always cause an application to be discontinued. Minor road traffic offences or 3 points on your licences may not be a problem dependent upon the offence. Always include full details of any convictions etc on your application - failure to do so will cause you serious problems if they are discovered at a later date.
28. If a member of my family has a conviction does it affect my application?
As above - it may, it may not. Each case that arises is considered on an application-by-application basis. Contact the Recruitment department if you are worried, or for further information.
29. What type of duties can I expect to do?
The duties you may find yourself doing are wide ranging. In the main you will find yourself working with a Dedicated (cummunity/neighbourhood) team consisting of police officers and PCSO's, however there is scope for experiencing working with other teams/departments and attachments can be mutual arranged between your Supervision and the relevant team/department. You will also be expected to go on duty at special events that require a police presence.
30. Can I do football duties?
Currently, working within football grounds requires a level of public order training that is not available to Special Constables. However, if you work in an Area or station that covers football grounds, you may find yourself able to work in the areas immediately around the ground on matchday, or focusing on other aspects of policing that accompany football matches, such as heightened levels of car crime in the areas around football grounds.
31. When on duty are Specials always on foot or do Specials ever patrol in vehicles with regular officers?
Work in Dedicated teams usually consists of a good mixture of both.
32. How much do you recieve for expenses when you are a Special?
It varies depending upon how many duties you do per month, and how long they are. You will recieve expenses for travel costs and subsistence (food/drink) when on duty. Expenses rates, and how to produce and submit expenses claims, will be covered in depth during training.
33. Do we get a bounty payment?
34. Do many Specials go on to join the regulars?
Yes - in fact, many people join the SC in order to gain experience of policing and 'test the water' without making the big transition to policing as a full-time job. Joining the Specials however does not make the application process to join the regular force shorter.
35. How long from first applying will it take before you first go on duty if you are successful?
The average length of time is approximately 4-6 months. This is mainly due to CRB and other security checks that have to be sent away.
36. Are there any restrictions on joining the specials?
There are restricted occupations, and an age range of 18-50 years. Also as stated earlier, previous convictions or those of family members may prove to be barriers to your application.
37. What are the situations where a Police Constable should wear a hat?
Any time when out in public and not in a police vehicle.
38. When do you wears flat hats?
When on mobile vehicle patrol and outside of that vehicle. Or when inside some vehicles such as large carriers (long wheelbase vans for transporting officers).
39. Does a diversity type question cover race, religion, beliefs and or special needs?
The concept of "diversity" covers all the above and more.
40. Does my warrant card carry any freebie entitlements?
There is a force policy on Gifts and Hospitality. There are a limited number of approved offers of hospitality towards police officers - any other offer (free food etc) should be declined. For example, officers may use buses free of charge with those bus operators that have agreed this with the Force. However this is technically putting yourself "on duty" as a police officer and you would expected to assist the driver or deal with any incidents that may arise during the journey - a failure to do so would be a neglect of duty. Without any radio or protective equipment, and in the confined space of a bus, putting yourself on duty this way is generally not advisable especially as an inexperienced officer or trainee recruit. If you attempt to use your warrant card to obtain discounts or similar for yourself in a manner outside the Gifts and Hospitality policy, this would be seen as a serious disciplinary offence.
41. Can I carry my warrant card around with when off duty?
It is advisable to carry it at all times, even when off duty.
42. How many Specials are there within Merseyside Police?
The number changes rapidly as new recruits are joining all the time. The Chief Constable wishes to have 600 Specials by the end of 2008, and there is space in the collar numbering system for up to 999 Specials.
43. Does anyone know if and when we get the photos from our attestation and if we have to pay for them?
You will be posted them shortly after your attestation.
44. Do we get the single ones and the group one?
Yes, you get both types of photo.
45. What is the Caution?
"You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned anything you may later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence".
When a person is being interviewed or charged, this part changes to ".....may harm your defence if you do no mention now anything you may later rely on in court. .... "
46. Once I am sworn in can I go straight on duty the next day?
Technically yes though it would be more advisable to meet with your station Specials supervision and have a tour etc of the station first; and arrange for your first duty to be with them or other experienced Specials.
47. Who runs the Specials/What is the rank structure?
There are Special Constabulary supervisors, Special Sergeants, usually at each station in each BCU who will be your first point of call for most training/welfare needs and more. These are in turn supervised by Special Inspectors within the BCU and each area has one Special Chief Inspector.
Additionally, in the regular force there are Neighbourhood Inspectors who manage the neighbourhood policing for that station, including Dedicated teams and the Specials they contain. They are answerable to the Chief Inspector (Neighbourhoods) and Superintendent (Neighbourhoods) within each BCU Command Team, which is headed up by the Area Commander who is a Chief Superintendent.
At Police Headquarters, there is a Chief Officer and a Deputy Chief Officer for the Special Constabulary, who are both serving Specials. They are responsible for running the Special Constabulary as a whole, taking a whole Force view, and work closely with the Chief Officer Group at Headquarters.
48. Are there any restrictions on the amount of hours I can put in?
You should do a minimum of 4 hours per week - however this is more commonly referred to as 16 hours per month rather than a strict requirement for at least 4 hours each week of the month.
There is no maximum limit, however if you do an excessive amount of hours with the Specials you may be asked to reduce the amount you do for your own health and safety as well as to avoid breaching the European Working Time directive. Not doing excessive hours of policing is especially important if you also have a demanding full-time job.
49. What is the difference between level 1, 2 and 3 and how are they achieved?
A level 1 Special is a new recruit who as passed initial training and can only patrol with at least 1 other level 2 or 3 Special.
Level 2 is obtained by passing a test at Mather Avenue training centre 14 weeks after completing initial training and means you are able to patrol with newer level 1 recruits, as well as other level 2 and level 3 officers, but not independently.
Level 3 is obtained by collecting a portfolio of evidence that is signed off by the SC training officer and the Chief Officer, authorising you to patrol on your own should you wish.
50. Does having laser eye surgery affect my application?
No, in most cases.
51. Can I use the gym in the station?
Check with your supervision. Some stations will allow this. Some gyms are maintained by regular officers' organisations that officers contribute money to on a monthly basis and so may only allow those officers that contribute to use the gym.
52. Will I be able to join the police federation?
Currently Specials cannot be members of the police federation, however if you do need advice your local Federation rep may take it upon themselves you give you advice anyway. This is entirely their own decision and they are not obliged to.
53. What legal assistance or representation is available to Specials, if they need it?
Reynolds Dawson are Home Office appointed solicitors for Specials who find themselves under invesigation for misconduct or any alleged criminal offence that has occured on duty. If you ring Reynolds Dawson they will apppoint solicitors in Merseyside closer to your station or home address to advise or represent you. Reynolds Dawson themselves can also give advice over the phone if that is all the situation warrants. You will be given the number on documentation you recieve during training. All legal fees are covered by the Home Office. It should be noted that Specials are subject to the same disciplinary regulations as regular officers and as such should be afforded the same processes in disciplinary investigations.
Frequently Asked Questions - Merseyside Police
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