Northamptonshire Special Constabulary Insights project

The Northamptonshire Special Constabulary Insights project, currently being delivered by the IPSCJ under the Centre for Citizens in Policing, provides an in depth insight into the experiences of Special Constables.

This research explores the activities, views and experiences within Northamptonshire’s Special Constabulary, with a focus on the following policy and practice questions:

  • What are the motivations behind applying to become a Special Constable?
  • What can police forces do to increase recruitment, improve training, improve competency and increase retention rates of Specials?
  • What are the experiences of Special Constables?
  • What activities are Specials carrying out when on duty?


The initial phase of this project is qualitative in nature and will comprise of a series of semi-structured interviews with Special Constables in order to find out what motivated them to volunteer for the role, their perspectives on training, how they integrate with regulars and their experiences of carrying out their role.

Targeted interviews will then be completed with dormant Specials and resigned Specials to uncover reasons for discontinuing service and provide recommendations as to how retention could be improved. Interviews will also be completed with Special Sergeants to capture their views.

This will be followed up by interviews with strategic level staff within Northamptonshire Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire regarding how Specials are utilised within the force, organisational cultures and the strategic direction of the Special Constabulary.

An activity analysis of Specials will be completed alongside the qualitative research, taking a detailed look at what Specials do in their roles and how they are utilised by the regular police force. The activity analysis will provide an evidence base from which strategic decisions regarding Special Constabularies can be made.

The final report will deliver findings and recommendations that will show what works in recruitment from a marketing and assessments perspective, how training meets the needs of recruits and how it might be improved for competency and enjoyment purposes, and how Specials feel about their roles and interactions with regular police officers.