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Paying Specials

The Special Constabulary is basically a voluntary organisation; it relies heavily on the principle of people giving up their own time to make their local community a better place.

However, perhaps in recognition of the fact that people have so many other responsibilities and possible ways to use their time, in the Police Reform Act of 2002 the Government provided for specials to be paid but left it up to individual police forces and police authorities to decide if, when and how much they might pay.

Scotland led the way and in 2004 introduced a national scheme.

Scottish Specials must complete a minimum of 50 4-hour duties per year, must go on duty at least once a month for a year, and must attend a certain number of training events, and a certain number of 'force events' (such football matches, demonstrations etc.). In return they are paid £1,000 per year - the force pays tax and national insurance so this is the "take home" figure.

To date (January 2011), England and Wales have been more piecemeal in their approach leaving it to individual Police Authorities to decide. 

As a result, there is a wide variation in incentive schemes for Specials across England and Wales. Where forces are offering a payment, it is often in the form of an annual "bounty", of between £500 and £1,000, paid for performing a certain number of hours per year and attending a certain number of training sessions.

Some areas took a different approach and offer Specials a discount on council tax.

Inevitably, in the new era of 'austerity' following the credit crunch and subsequent election of the coalition government in 2010, a number of forces have already closed down their payment schemes, citing the need to cut budgets.

These payments and incentives are by no means nationwide and the majority of forces are still relying on their Specials to turn up for free. To be fair, most Specials don't do it for the money!

Whether paid or not, Specials can claim their out of pocket expenses - this means mileage, car parking, and under certain circumstances, subsistence - one or more meals taken during a duty period.

Links:

Ongoing debate/discussion about payment

Poll relating to paying Specials


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