Number of special constables in Suffolk drops by 60% in 10 years

The number of special constables in Suffolk has dropped in recent years

The number of special constables in Suffolk has dropped in recent years. Inset, Karen Harris of Citizens in Policing - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown/ Karen Willie

The number of special constables working alongside police officers in Suffolk has fallen by nearly two-thirds over the past decade, new figures reveal. 

The officers, also known as "specials", hold the same powers as police constables and work a minimum of 16 hours a month as volunteers. 

Home Office data shows Suffolk Constabulary had 121 special constables in March this year – down from 137 the year before. 

It represents a stark (62%) drop compared to 2011, when there were 318. 

A fall in the number of specials within Suffolk Constabulary over the decade came alongside a 3% increase in full-time police officers.


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The Police Federation said the decrease in specials was in part due to increasing workloads in volunteer’s day jobs.  

Chairman John Apter said: “More and more has been expected of special constables. 

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“These extra pressures have caused some to leave the service, as they cannot juggle their day jobs with what is expected of them."

Karen Harris, manager of Citizens in Policing, said that the decrease in specials was part of a wider issue and that the smaller number of volunteers were carrying out more hours of work.  

“Nationally, there has been a decline in numbers within the Special Constabulary and, in recognition of this, the National Citizens in Policing Team has recruited a National Coordinator to assist with this. Therefore, the decline is not just a Suffolk issue,” she said.  

“Over the years, we have also seen a number of special constables join the regular constabulary as part of the Operation Uplift programme. This combined with being unable to train new special constables during the pandemic, has added to the decline in Suffolk’s numbers. 

“In Suffolk, although the numbers may have declined, the voluntary contribution in terms of hours, has gone up considerably. For example, in 2013, 246 officers completed an average of 242.5 hours per officer over the year. This is compared to 2020, when 123 officers completed an average of 350.8 hours per officer over the year. This is a significant increase in the number of volunteered hours.” 

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