Special Constabulary Eligibility Requirements2024-01-18T09:53:56+00:00

Special Constable Eligibility Requirements

Whilst we welcome applications from people of all backgrounds, there are some Special Constabulary eligibility conditions that all applicants need to meet before you register your interest.

Check your eligibility

You must be aged 17 years or over to apply to be a Special Constable. If you’re successful in the application process you are not able to start volunteering until you turn 18.  There is no upper age limit for applying to the police service as a Special Constable.

You must declare any other employment or business interests you intend to maintain.

The purpose of this is to ensure business interests and additional occupations do not conflict with the work of the police, undermine public confidence or adversely affect the reputation of a Special Constable or Northumbria Police.

Certain occupations are not eligible to become a special constable, or are eligible with approval from the Chief Constable.

Occupations which are ineligible (but with some variations as described):

  • Armed Forces Personnel
  • Armed forces reserve members: RN Reserve, RM Reserve, Territorial Army, RAAF, are eligible but their reserve commitments take priority over police duties.
  • Police staff investigators (PIP 1 and PIP 2)
  • Traffic wardens, civil enforcement officers, and school crossing patrols.
  • Neighbourhood and street wardens, and other uniformed patrol wardens.
  • Some Highways Agency Traffic Officers (includes Welsh Assembly Traffic Officers) – those employed in an ‘on road’ capacity are ineligible.
  • Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).
  • Members of Employer’s police forces and private constabularies.
  • Certain roles concerned with the administration of the law.
  • Magistrates, Judges, Justice’s clerks, CPS employees.
  • SOCA (Serious and Organised Crime Agency) staff: SOCA staff with immigration officer and/or revenue and custom officer powers are ineligible; SOCA staff, including those designated with constable powers, are eligible subject to agreement by the Director General of SOCA and the Chief Officer of the force.
  • Members of Police Authorities may be considered for appointment as special constables in a different area to where they are a member of the police authority, with permission of the authority and at the discretion of the Chief Office of the force.
  • Immigration Officers.
  • Occupations with client privilege are eligible but at the discretion of the Chief Officer of the force, and where necessary, subject to approval of the employer.
  • Members of medical and health professions are eligible provided their local NHS Trust or Health Authority has no objections.

Occupations/interests where appointment as a special constable is at the discretion of the Chief Constable of the Force;

  • Holders of premises or personal licences, designated premises supervisors, and licensees of betting/gaming premises.
  • Warrant Officers.
  • Private Detectives.
  • Inquiry Agents.
  • Employees of Security Organisations.
  • Security Personnel, guards and door supervisors: Persons involved in the private security industry will be ineligible to become a special constable if their job involves the potential for them to use their position as a constable for their own advantage or that of their employer, e.g. contact with the public, patrolling/guarding buildings, etc.
  • Members of the Fire Service – Now eligible for appointment as special constables, subject to agreement between the Chief Officers of the police force and the relevant Fire Service.

Cautions or convictions will not necessarily preclude you from appointment. It will depend on the nature and the circumstances of the offence.

Applicants who fail to declare a relevant matter, including any conviction, caution and judicial or other formal disposal, whether spent or not, will be rejected on the grounds of integrity.

It is not appropriate to identify a prescriptive list of convictions and cautions that should lead to rejection of an application. Each case will be considered on its own individual merits in relation to the role being undertaken within our standard vetting procedures.

Applications for a position as a Special Constable where that you may be in the evidential chain will be rejected in all cases where:

  • offences were committed as an adult or juvenile which resulted in a prison sentence (including custodial, suspended or deferred sentence and sentences served at a young offenders’ institution or community home);


  • the applicant is a registered sex offender or is subject to a registration requirement in respect of any other conviction.
  • For all other convictions or cautions there is a rebuttable presumption that applications should be rejected; in particular, the following may result in rejection:
  • offences where vulnerable people were targeted
  • offences motivated by hate or discrimination
  • offences of domestic abuse

View further information and the documentation to support the professional standards for vetting issued by the College of Policing.

Whilst our health and fitness requirements are not nearly as demanding as is often assumed, you will need to be able to cope with the physical and emotional demands of the job. This includes for example, being able to deal with volatile or traumatic situations and cope with working long shifts.

It’s important you are aware that at the point of recruitment you will go through a thorough health screening and medical assessment, which can result in an unsuccessful application due to previous or ongoing health conditions that may create an unacceptable risk in the role. Support is in place to help our police officers; however, the recruitment standard is set to protect yourself, our officers, and members of the public and to optimise successful recruitment of long-term police officers into the force.

We cannot assess your medical history prior to a conditional offer of employment so please ensure you read through the Home Office Medical Standards and Annexes A & B to understand if your medical history or any current conditions may have an impact on your eligibility for the role. Those documents set out the current best medical advice in relation to medical fitness to be appointed as a police officer. Whilst each application will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, it is likely that your application may not be successful if you apply when, for example, still on mental health treatment, have had a recent major operation or have recently had an epileptic seizure.

As part of our medical checks, you will also be expected to pass a BMI analysis with 18-30 as recruitment standard. Getting to the expected level of health and fitness can be very different depending on each person – we’re all unique! – but can be achieved with some determination, practice, and support.

You will need to look smart and clean at all times when representing the Force on any duty. Religious or cultural clothing can be worn, provided it is suitable for the purpose.

Headwear – If you wear a turban or an Imama Shareef a force badge must be on display. Anyone wearing a hijab or skullcap must wear their headwear over it when on foot patrol.

Facial hair – operational officers should not have a long beard, because of health and safety risks; although we can make exceptions for religious reasons.

Jewellery – Religious requirements to wear jewellery, are judged on their own merit. They are only allowed if not a significant health and safety risk and unobtrusive.

Police officers are in a privileged position with regard to access of information and could be considered potentially vulnerable to corruption. Most applicants have debts, such as mortgages, undischarged student or other loans, and credit/store card debts. Whilst this is generally accepted, applicants to the police service should not be under pressure from undischarged debts or liabilities and should be able to manage loans and debts sensibly. The emphasis is on sensible management of debt.

If you have a discharged County Court Judgement you may be considered. However we will not accept an application if you have an existing County Court Judgement outstanding against you.

If you have been registered as bankrupt and your bankruptcy debts have been discharged, you will be considered after three years from discharge of the debt. However, we will not accept you if you have been registered bankrupt and your bankruptcy debts have not been discharged.

If you are the subject of a current Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), you will not be considered.

The fitness test allows an assessment to be made of your endurance to ensure you are able to meet the demands of operational policing.

The test focuses upon aerobic capacity. You will carry out a shuttle run over a 15 metre area and run in time with a bleep. At the end of each level the time in between the bleeps is shortened and you therefore have to run faster to keep up with the pace. The Special Constable pass mark is level 5.4. This involves running for approximately 3 minutes 40 seconds. If you do not think you can achieve this level, you should ensure you start improving your fitness levels as soon as you can (please check with your doctor before making any big changes to your fitness regime).

We have a policy to prevent officers and staff from becoming members of organisations or groups whose aims, objectives or pronouncements may contradict our duty to promote equality (e.g. BNP, Combat 18, National Front etc.).  Therefore, if you are a member of a proscribed organisation or other group, you will not be accepted.

To be eligible for appointment, you must be a British citizen or a citizen of a country that is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. Commonwealth citizens and foreign nationals are also eligible but only if they are resident in the UK free of restrictions. If you are a Commonwealth citizen or other foreign national, you must provide proof during the recruitment process that you have no restrictions on your stay in the UK and that you have the right to work in the UK in accordance with post-Brexit immigration requirements.

You must have been continually resident in the UK for the three year period immediately before an application is made. This is to satisfy the requirement to vet all applicants in an equitable manner.

You are only able to apply to become a Special Constable at one police force at a time.

You can also apply to become a Police Officer to either the same force or another force at the same time as you apply to become a Special. However if either application is successful and you are invited for an interview, we would ask you either withdraw from the other applications or place them on hold.

The eyesight standards you need to meet with spectacles or contact lenses can be found here.

This contradicts everything the role of a police officer stands for – if you are currently using any illegal drugs, this will rule you out of the recruitment process automatically.

You will be tested for substance misuse during the recruitment medical process. You may also be subject to substance misuse testing at any stage during your career with us.

Tattoos do not prevent applicants from becoming a Special Constable; however tattoos on the face are not acceptable other than for religious or medical reasons. In addition, tattoos, whether visible or otherwise should not:

  • undermine the dignity and authority of the office of constable;
  • cause offence to members of the public or colleagues and/or invite provocation
  • indicate unacceptable attitudes towards any individual or section of the community
  • indicate alignment with a particular group which could give offence to members of the public or colleagues; and
  • be considered inflammatory, rude, lewd, crude, racist, sexist, sectarian, homophobic, violent or intimidating.

Although tattoos will not prohibit applicants from joining Northumbria Police (subject to the above), it is recommended they are covered when at work to maintain a professional image. The dress and appearance protocol outlines that Special Constables should wear appropriate work wear which covers tattoos as far as possible when at work, which will be issued accordingly.

If your tattoo is determined as not acceptable, your application will not be progressed.

Frequently asked questions about our vetting process

What are the most common mistakes when completing vetting applications and how can these be avoided?2023-08-25T11:07:08+01:00
  • Missing information – take your time and carefully read through the questions and any available guidance.
  • Always be honest – if you’re asking yourself whether you need to declare something on your vetting form, include it.
  • If you can’t remember or provide specific details. Include a rationale detailing why.
  • Provide your full address history (including any student accommodation).
  • Always provide a full list of family members, including half siblings, stepfamily and the full details of a partner or spouse.
  • Not including details of boyfriend/girlfriend under the spouse/partner section (we require details of those with whom you are co-residing as partners or those you are married or in a civil partnership with)
  • Make sure you provide maiden names, dates of birth and addresses for all the people listed on your vetting forms.
  • Declare all previous interactions with the police. All police involvement is recorded on our systems; fail to declare it and your honesty and integrity will come into question.
  • Include details of any criminal associates.
How do I let you know there has been a change in my personal circumstances?2022-06-15T08:36:18+01:00

It is important that the Force Vetting Unit is made aware of any changes in your personal circumstances both during and after the vetting process.  You are responsible for communicating these changes.

You should make the Force Vetting Unit aware of:

  • Any change in your personal or financial circumstances (e.g. new spouse/partner, dependent or co-resident, new loans or mortgages etc.)
  • Any significant change to your role which might be sufficient to require a different level of vetting.
  • Any convictions or cautions for criminal offences or involvement in criminal investigations relating to either yourself or anyone included on your original vetting or application forms.
Will I be told the reasons for a refusal?2022-06-15T08:35:44+01:00

There are many reasons why an applicant can be refused and where possible the applicant will be told the reasons.  However there are a number of situations where they cannot be told because the information held may relate to a family member, criminal associate or may be subject of an exemption from disclosure under the Data Protection Act.

Can I appeal if I am refused?2023-08-25T11:09:07+01:00

You may appeal a vetting decision where you believe one or more of the following factors apply.

  • Further information is available that was not considered by the decision maker
  • The vetting rejection was disproportionate considering the circumstances or details of the case
  • The decision was perverse or unreasonable
  • No explanation was given for the decision

Any appeal must be in writing and must clearly set out the grounds for appeal. Appeals are dealt with by a senior officer or member of staff who is independent of the original decision-making process and has not been previously involved in the case. Applicants should address their appeal to the Force Vetting Unit in the first instance who will pass the appeal, along with any rationale for the decision, to a senior officer or member of staff who will look into the case and respond directly to the applicant.

How long does the vetting procedure take?2023-08-25T11:10:17+01:00

Each case is treated on its merits and therefore it depends on what information is found during the checks. Sometimes it is necessary to call the applicant to interview so that their personal may be discussed and sometimes it is necessary to make enquiries in other forces or with other bodies. Therefore, we do not give a set time to complete a vetting file but deal with them as quickly as possible.

Are you eligible? Join a recruitment event and become a Special Constable with #TeamNP

Register your interest

Are you eligible? Join a recruitment event and become a Special Constable with #TeamNP

Register your interest